Denver, CO – August 28, 2023 – The Clyfford Still Museum (CSM) will highlight how it stewards and preserves collections for future generations through careful display; scientific and historical research; and art conservation in the new exhibition Spotlight: Inside Collections Care and Conservation, opening on September 15.
Co-curated by Bailey Placzek, curator of collections, James Squires, chief conservator, and Pam Skiles, senior paintings conservator, the exhibition includes never-before-seen Clyfford Still works, behind-the-scenes views of museum collections and conservation practices, and archival objects illustrating Still’s studio practice and preservation philosophy.
Still directed how the Museum would dedicate ample space to conservation and collections storage through his will. For Still, the long-term care of his collection included organizing and storing his paintings in a chronological manner to facilitate the interpretation and study of his work. The Spotlight exhibition is accordingly organized chronologically, to provide a thorough overview of Still’s 60-year career.
All nine of the Museum’s galleries also include collections care and conservation-themed spotlights that delve into the theory, materials, process, and preservation techniques related to Still’s work. Each vignette explores an issue or topic relevant to the care of CSM’s collections, offering viewers an enhanced understanding of Still’s artwork through a conservator’s lens. Spotlight concepts build in complexity throughout the installation. This organization provides a linear way of understanding modern conservation’s philosophical scope and preservation-related practices related to CSM’s collection.
“In this exhibition, we share cleaning techniques we’ve used on Still’s paintings, as well as decision-making processes that go into approaching a treatment,” said Skiles. “We also discuss the art materials Still used, how that affects the aging of his works, and how we approach them as conservators.”
The exhibition includes several features:
- Two archival cases featuring objects and conservation tools from the Clyfford Still Archives
- Five never-before-seen paintings, including one presented unstretched on a panel strainer.
- 14 works on paper on view for the first time
- A rotation of works on paper midway through the exhibition
- Perspectives from CSM collections staff, Alan Phenix (retired conservation scientist from the Getty Conservation Institute), elementary students from Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment, and local painters Rochelle Johnson and Kaitlyn Tucek in the digital guide
“Conservation is important for museums to help preserve the collections for future generations to appreciate and study,” said Skiles. “I hope visitors come away with a better understanding of how we approach conservation at the Museum and what sorts of things conservators think about when caring for an art collection. It’s a window into museum activities that visitors don’t always get to see.”
Spotlight: Inside Collections Care and Conservation will run from September 15, 2023, to May 5, 2024. The Museum will offer various programs and events during the exhibition. Visit clyffordstillmuseum.org/events for a schedule of upcoming programs.
About the Clyfford Still Museum
Designed by Allied Works Architecture to display the revolutionary art of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, the Clyfford Still Museum opened in November 2011 in Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District. Considered one of the most important and mysterious painters of the 20th century, Clyfford Still (1904-1980) was among the first generation of abstract expressionist artists who developed a new and powerful approach to painting in the years during and immediately after World War II. The Museum’s collection represents more than 93% of the artist’s lifetime output. As the steward of Still’s art and legacy, the Museum’s mission is to preserve, exhibit, study, and foster engagement with its unique collections; generate outstanding exhibitions, scholarly research, educational and other cross-disciplinary programs that broaden the definition of a “single-artist” museum; and be a gathering place for the exploration of innovation and individual artistic endeavor. Connect with the Clyfford Still Museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or at clyffordstillmuseum.org.
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