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clyfford still | museum
Installation image of four abstract black and yellow paintings
Installation view of gallery 5 in Dialogue and Defiance, photo by CSM

Program Recording: Curatorial Talk with Valerie Hellstein

The downtown art scene in New York City in the late 1940s and early 1950s was a tight-knit community. While Clyfford Still embraced individuality above all, he was not a solitary, lone individual painting for his own sake and was an active participant in this community. The exhibition Dialogue and Defiance: Clyfford Still and the Abstract Expressionists explores this community of artists and Still’s place within it and hopes to dispel the myth of the artist as an isolated genius. Guest curator and art historian Valerie Hellstein took us into the world of the Abstract Expressionists with her talk to see how we might rethink this community. The talk took place in the CSM lobby on June 6, 2024.

Valerie Hellstein is a scholar of Abstract Expressionism, and is writing a book on Abstract Expressionism and “The Club,” a New York City loft where artists, intellectuals, critics, poets, and musicians gathered to present ideas, debate, listen, and share their work. Hellstein has written essays and articles and given talks on various aspects of Abstract Expressionism for over fifteen years. She has a PhD in art history from Stony Brook University, and for a decade she taught modern and contemporary art to college students and adult learners. She also worked for a time as a researcher at the Willem de Kooning Foundation in New York. Before becoming the managing editor at the Denver Art Museum, she taught courses at the University of Denver and CSU and led weekly tours at the Clyfford Still Museum.

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