Although Clyfford Still regarded photography primarily as a record, the medium played a distinctive and under-appreciated role in Clyfford Still’s biography and work. Clyfford Still & Photography is the first exhibition to explore this subject in depth and from different historical and critical perspectives. Nearly 70 photos from the Clyfford Still Archives (which holds some 23,000 photographic images) ranging in date from 1905 until the mid-1970s are included in the exhibition, along with six comparative paintings and other related archival materials such as photography books, magazine clippings, and ephemera.
Photographs intersected with Still’s life on diverse levels, ranging from photographs he took in the 1930s as reference points for various paintings and works on paper to those that privately bear witness to a more intimate side: Still’s evolution from soon after his birth in 1904 to the final years before his death in 1980. Archival photographs also provide the sole remaining traces of artworks by Still that have otherwise been lost to posterity. Finally, certain landscape photographs from Still’s concluding two decades in Maryland exhibit a striking beauty and sometimes evoke paintings done many years before. Despite their uncertain authorship, these images (discovered within his personal archive) bear the vital stamp of Still’s creative spirit. When examined in totality, the objects illustrate what amounts to a life in pictures.
Installed in the Museum’s first three galleries, Clyfford Still & Photography accompanies an installation of other masterwork paintings and works on paper from the collection spanning his entire career and illustrating his remarkable path to abstraction.
Clyfford Still & Photography is presented in collaboration with Month of Photography Denver, a biennial celebration of fine art photography with hundreds of collaborative public events. Additional reproductions of Still’s photographs will also be on view at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center at 1070 Bannock Street, two blocks from the Museum. These works will be part of CPAC’s exhibition exploring abstract photography, Inspiration | Expression, on view February 16 through April 20, 2019.