Stories We Tell: The Collection Two Ways – Clyfford Still Museum

Exhibition

Detail of two Clyfford Still oil paintings

PH-1069, 1978 (detail). Oil on canvas, 90 x 68 inches. Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO and Clyfford Still, PH-618, 1942 (detail). Oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 33 3/8 inches. Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO. © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY

Stories We Tell: The Collection Two Ways

Due to the temporary closure, this exhibition has been postponed to 2021.

Due to the temporary closure, this exhibition has been postponed until 2021. Exhibition dates are subject to change.

Curated by Bailey Placzek and Dean Sobel, this exhibition digs deep into the Museum’s vaults to present the collection in two complementary but alternate ways as a means to understand how artworks and their meaning can change based upon curatorial strategy. (We welcome you to take part in our experiment.)

Museums go to great lengths to organize their collections for their various audiences:  by culture, maker, nationality, chronology, stylistic movement, theme, size, and even by degree of formal artistic training (so-called “folk” art).  While thoughtful presentation of artworks is essential (could you imagine an installation of works arranged alphabetically?), every strategy has its own strengths as well as shortcomings.

Oil painting by Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still, PH-1069, 1978. Oil on canvas, 90 x 68 inches. Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO. © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY

This exhibition begins with a new chronological presentation in the first five galleries. In the remaining four rooms, the artworks are grouped into specific thematic categories regardless of their chronology. The primary strategy for both displays is to elucidate some of the main artistic foundations that ground Still’s art, including his stylistic path from representation to abstraction, the role of figuration, color, machines, and doubling in his art, an example of how an image changes across media, and finally Still’s conception of artistic space.

Both arrangements reveal these aspects through different methods, so that visitors with diverse learning styles and experiences can relate to the collection and understand Still’s art in more than one way.  Moreover, this exercise emphasizes the importance of a multiplicity of approaches when presenting artworks to the community.

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