New art museum for Denver

Above: A rendering of the planned Clyfford Still Museum. Below right, his painting 1947 PH 118.

A few days ago the Clyfford Still Museum broke ground on its future home in the heart of the Denver’s arts district. Scheduled to open in 2011, the museum will feature 2,400 works by the abstract expressionist. It was quite a coup for the city because Still (1904-1980) has virtually no connection to Denver. However, Dean Sobel, the museum’s director, says the artist did spend much of his time in the West. “His staunch independence and pioneering role in the development of a new American art links with the spirit of this western city,” he says.  

Still’s widow, Patricia, personally selected Denver from 20 cities that vied for the collection. Conditions were stringent: The notoriously private artist wrote in his will that his artistic estate could go only to an American city that would agree to build a museum just for him. Works by any other artist could never be shown alongside his pieces. In 2007, a New York Times article estimated that if the collection went on the auction block, it would be worth $1 billion. Sobel predicts that the museum “will move Denver further into the top echelon of cultural destinations.”

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