The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver Colorado has agreed to loan the Royal Academy an unprecedented nine major paintings from the Museum’s collection, for a defining exhibition of Abstract Expressionism, opening September 2016. This will be the first comprehensive survey of the movement to be mounted in Europe in over 50 years.
Since opening in November 2011, the Clyfford Still Museum has established itself as a dynamic and pioneering institution, redefining the potential for single artist museums. Over the course of the past five years, the Museum has mounted thought-provoking exhibitions and created innovative programming that has engaged both the local community and visitors from all 50 states and over 30 foreign countries. Through these initiatives the Museum has created renewed interest in Still’s practice, bringing his work to the forefront of art-historical dialogues while also keeping it engaged with the contemporary landscape.
From the outset, the museum’s mission has been to redefine Still’s work in the art-historical canon, and to make this previously hidden collection accessible to a contemporary audience,” said Clyfford Still Museum Director Dean Sobel. “During our first five years in operation we have mounted exhibitions that explored major new discoveries about Still’s work, presenting it in a new light. We have been pleased with the overwhelmingly positive reception of Still’s work by our visitors who, in particular, appreciate the opportunity to explore Still’s artistic development over 60 years—from his early representational works to his mature abstractions. In celebration of our anniversary year we look forward to continuing to expand the ways we think about and understand Still’s work.
The loan of some of Still’s finest masterpieces from the collection to the forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy represents an extension of the Museum’s mission to advance the work and legacy of Clyfford Still. The exhibition, which presents Clyfford Still, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning as the pivotal figures of the movement, will provide people from around the world a once-in-a-lifetime chance to encounter these tremendous paintings in person and to reconsider the narrative around the Abstract Expressionism movement as a whole. Because this is an initiative that will help redefine post-war American painting, the museum feels it is critical that Clyfford Still be included in the strongest possible way.
Over the past five years, the Clyfford Still Museum has provided unprecedented access to Still’s work, presenting more than 650 works by Still in 15 exhibitions at the Museum that variously looked at Still’s paths to abstraction; his achievements as a colorist; and his interest in myth as a basis for his evolving imagery, among others. The Museum has published four scholarly catalogues on Still, produced an hour-long documentary film on the artist’s life and work, hosted keynote lectures by national art and architecture critics, launched an innovative school visit program, discovered and digitized the only known moving images of Still, and hosted free programs to engage the Denver community.