The Met, MoMA, Hirshhorn, Detroit Institute of Arts, Smithsonian American Art Museum among lenders to ambitious fall exhibition of serial paintings
Repeat/Recreate: Clyfford Still’s “Replicas” September 18, 2015–January 10, 2016
Denver, CO—The world’s most intact public collection of a major American artist will become even more comprehensive this fall. Repeat/Recreate: Clyfford Still’s “Replicas” will bring fifteen additional works of art to Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum for an exhibition of Still’s closely related compositions that he called “replicas.” Repeat/Recreate will provide a new and greater understanding of Still’s process and methods, while challenging the popular understanding of Abstract Expressionism as an outpouring of impulsive creativity. On view September 18, 2015–January 10, 2016, the exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center.
The pairings date from 1925 to 1974. The Museum is borrowing works from the Detroit Institute of Arts, Glenstone, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as well as four private collections. Nineteen of the works featured in Repeat/Recreate have never been shown publicly.
Repeat/Recreate: Clyfford Still’s “Replicas” is curated by David Anfam and Dean Sobel, director of the Clyfford Still Museum. Anfam—who organized Jackson Pollock’s Mural: Energy Made Visible, currently on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice—is senior consulting curator at the Clyfford Still Museum and director of the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center. The exhibition catalogue includes more than fifty full color plates as well as essays by David Anfam and Neil Benezra, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The catalogue will be available for purchase at the Museum and shop.clyffordstillmuseum.org in mid-September.
There are more than 70 works in the exhibition, including 43 paintings as well as etchings, lithographs, watercolors, and other works on paper. Works range in size from just 5 by 3.5 inches to as large as 16 by 9.75 feet.
Often only small divergences are detectible between Still’s replicas, which range from duos to trios. In other instances, an earlier composition is recast with strikingly novel chromatic choices or on a somewhat changed scale. “Rather than take these ‘doubles’ and ‘triples’ as evidence of an iconoclastic modernist mindset— like, say, a forerunner of Andy Warhol’s proliferating pop culture symbols—it may be more appropriate to locate them in the lineage of Titian or Rembrandt, both of whom made thoughtful copies or variants of the same subject,” said David Anfam. “That among the artistic predecessors whom Still studied were Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh seems notably significant, as each famously worked in series. Still’s serial procedures have a similar kind of recurrent intensity about them.”
“The mere existence of these replicas throws much of popular culture’s perception of Abstract Expressionism off balance,” said Dean Sobel. “This exhibition illustrates how paintings of Still, Pollock, Rothko, and Motherwell were not the outpourings of unbridled and fleeting creative impulses but were, in fact, the result of slow, methodical deliberations that could—and would—be recreated in marvelous variations. These vanguard ‘irascibles,’ as they were dubbed in 1950, were more traditional than what many viewers might oftentimes suspect. Whether it be Pollock’s poured and drip works, Rothko’s basic juxtaposed rectangles, Newman’s ‘zips’ or Motherwell’s Elegies to the Spanish Republic, replication is at the core of Abstraction Expressionism as a whole.”
ABOUT THE CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM
The Clyfford Still Museum opened in November of 2011 to promote public and scholarly understanding of the life and work of Clyfford Still (1904–80). Considered one of the most important painters of the twentieth century, Still was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years following World War II. In addition to approximately 9,000 square feet of exhibition space devoted solely to the artist’s work, the Museum also houses the Clyfford Still Museum Archives and the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center. The Los Angeles Times calls the Museum “a marvelous model for what a single-artist museum can be;” Smithsonian Magazine describes the Museum as “among the best art museum experiences anywhere.” The Museum was designed by Allied Works Architecture, which received the 2013 Design Award, 2012 Honor Award, and 2012 Craftsmanship Award from regional chapters of the American Institute of Architects for the project.