The Clyfford Still Museum: Exploring the Legacy of a Visionary Artist

June 4, 2023

The Clyfford Still Museum, located in the Golden Triangle Creative District in Denver, is renowned for housing one of the most well-preserved public collections of any major artist in the world. Spanning across two stories and covering an area of 28,500 square feet, the museum was designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture with the specific purpose of showcasing Clyfford Still's artwork.

Clyfford Still, considered one of the most significant painters of the 20th century, was an influential figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement. The museum's collection consists of over 3,125 works, which represents more than 93 percent of Still's artistic output from 1920 to 1980. Visitors can explore nine captivating galleries displaying his art, along with a range of historic photographs, objects, and letters sourced from the Clyfford Still Archives.

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In addition to the extensive collection, the museum offers interactive features, tranquil outdoor terraces, and glimpses into storage and conservation areas. Visitors can also engage in hands-on art creation activities in the studio, participate in exciting programs and events, and indulge in shopping opportunities.

Situated west of the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building, the Clyfford Still Museum is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts, providing a comprehensive and immersive experience into the life and artistic journey of Clyfford Still.

The Clyfford Still Museum provides visitors with a unique opportunity to delve into the legacy of Clyfford Still, an artist who maintained a strong commitment to his artistic vision without compromising for monetary gain or recognition. Throughout his artistic journey, Still's style evolved from depictions of outdoor scenes, people, and machinery to more abstract forms, colors, and lines that aimed to convey ideas and emotions. His large-scale canvases were meant to immerse viewers and allow them to experience his art fully. Still intentionally refrained from titling his works, encouraging people to form their own interpretations.

By exploring the museum, visitors can chart their own path of discovery to learn more about Still, his artwork, and the inspirations that shaped him. They can also gain new perspectives on his work and explore the museum's unique architecture. The museum provides opportunities for individuals interested in joining its team through open job postings and volunteer opportunities. Additionally, visitors can stay informed about recent news and press releases related to the museum and learn about its efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI).

The history of the Clyfford Still Museum is rooted in the artist's desire for his work to be experienced as a cohesive whole. He believed that viewing his artworks collectively, rather than individually, was crucial to understanding his artistic development and vision. In his will, Still stipulated that his entire collection be given to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to the display and care of his art. The goal was to preserve the integrity of his work and eliminate distractions from other artists' works. After his death in 1980, the Clyfford Still Estate was closed off from public view.

Numerous American cities vied for the internationally renowned Still collection, and in 2004, Patricia Still, Clyfford Still's wife, selected Denver as the recipient after then-Mayor John Hickenlooper agreed to fulfill the will's stringent terms. Patricia also bequeathed her own estate to the city, which included select paintings by Clyfford Still and his complete archives. In 2006, the Clyfford Still Museum secured a plot of land in Denver's Civic Center Cultural Complex, and the design of the museum was entrusted to Allied Works Architecture, led by Brad Cloepfil.

After breaking ground in December 2009, the Clyfford Still Museum opened to the public on November 18, 2011. It reintroduced the life and work of Clyfford Still, shedding light on one of America's most significant yet enigmatic artists. The museum received over 830 paintings, 2,300 works on paper, more than 23,000 photographs, and numerous archival objects assembled by the Stills.

The Clyfford Still Museum stands as a testament to the artist's vision, providing a space where his complete body of work can be appreciated, studied, and experienced by visitors from around the world.

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