Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clyfford Still Museum Opens + A Holiday Dinner Party for 4

Interior of Clyfford Still Museum (Copyright Clyfford Still Museum)

The New
Clyfford Still

Painter Clyfford Still was one of the most important abstract expressionists and ranks with the greats like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Today, 31 years after his passing, he is finally ready to exhibit his work.

 Clyfford Still - 1957-J No. 2 (PH-401) 1957 Oil on Canvas, 113 x 155 in.
Copyright Clyfford Still Museum Photo: Peter Harholdt
The art world is all flying into Denver, Colorado this week to see the new Clyfford Still Museum as it opens its doors to the public. The museum will be reintroducing the life and work of one of America’s most significant yet least viewed and understood artists. This new museum, which houses 94% of Clyfford Still’s total creative output, will allow the public to explore the artist’s 60-year career, including figurative works from the 1930s, paintings from the 1960s and 1970s and hundreds of works on paper that the artist created on a near-daily basis. The museum will house a collection of approximately 2,400 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures all by this one artist. It will be providing an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the full scope of Still's legacy and influence on abstraction in painting and on subsequent American artists.
Clyfford Still - Self-Portrait (PH-382), 1940
Oil on Canvas, 41 1/2 x 38 in.
Copyright Clyfford Still Museum Photo: Peter Harholdt

After achieving national recognition and prominence for his abstract works in the 1940s, Still, disliking the politics and commercialism of the art world, ended his relationship with all of his galleries and dealers in 1951. He rarely publicly exhibited his work thereafter. Following the artist’s death in 1980, the Still collection was sealed off completely from view. Still’s will stipulated that his estate be given in its entirety to an American city willing to establish “permanent quarters” dedicated solely to his work, ensuring its survival for exhibition and study. In August 2004, the City of Denver, under the leadership of then Mayor John Hickenlooper, was selected by Still’s wife, Patricia Still, to receive the substantial Still collection. In 2005, Patricia Still also bequeathed to the city her own collection, which included select works as well as Still's complete archive. 
Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, Colorado
Photo courtesy of Allied Works Architecture.
The new Clyfford Still Museum building, built diagonally across from Michael Graves' showy postmodern Denver Public Library and in the shadow of Renzo Piano's "Fortress" and the "Ocean Liner" sized and shaped Daniel Libeskind Denver Art Museum buildings, was designed by architect Brad Cloepfil. The exterior is quite understated but pleasant. The galleries of the museum have a striking ceiling and other interesting design details.  The city first raised $7.5 million in private funds to start construction on the $29 million building. Later enough money was raised to completely pay for the construction of the building with private funds. Recently, Sotheby's auctioned four of Patricia Still's collection of paintings, which brought in $114 million. The sale will net $85 million to establish an endowment which will be used to support the new museum. 
Clyfford Still - 1949 No 1 (PH-385) 1949
Oil on Canvas, 105 1/2 in. x 81 in.
Copyright Clyfford Still Museum Photo: Peter Harholdt
The museum’s inaugural exhibition features approximately 110 works drawn from the Still collection, exploring both the artist’s early arrival at complete abstraction as well as the ongoing significance of figuration on his later work. The exhibition includes a number of never-before-displayed paintings, works on paper, and objects from Still’s personal archives, as well as the only three sculptures by Still in existence.
Copyright Clyfford Still 
The vast majority of Clyfford Still's work has never been exhibited or even seen outside of his family and a few art historians. Still's works in the public realm, before the opening of this museum, only represented six percent of the artist’s creative output. 
Copyright Clyfford Still 
This week's opening of The Clyfford Still Museum will provide unprecedented insight into the life and work of a singular great American abstract expressionist artist. 
More information on Clyfford Still's life and career can be found below in the Postscript section. Also check out the photos of the galleries and the opening ceremony in the Postscript section.

(Sources: Clyfford Still Museum press release and various Denver Post articles. Photos courtesy of Clyfford Still Museum and Allied Works Architecture © 2011.)

(Roasted Pork Shoulder 
- A Holiday Dinner Party)
is at the end of this issue.

Postscript Section: 
Photos of the Clyfford Still Museum opening ceremony.
+ More Information on Clyfford Still - His Life and Career

Main staircase to the galleries.

Designed "Grassworks"
are on both of the two Terraces.
Clyfford Still's nephew helped direct
 the collection toward Denver.
Museum Architect: Brad Cloepfil
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
reads a Clyfford Still Museum proclamation
with the help of Museum District City Council
Representative Jeanne Robb
and other Denver City Council Members.
Clyfford Still Museum Director
Dean Sobel
Director Sobel and Clyfford Still's daughters
unveil the museum - behind the red curtain.
Lobby of Museum

All of Clyfford Still's art
is based on the figure.
One of three sculptures
in the collection.

Still's painting smock
The original group of Abstract Expressionist Artists.
Clyfford Still is in the second row, third from the right.
(Source: All images in the Postscript section were taken at the Clyfford Still Museum. The artworks shown fall under the © copyright of the Clyfford Still Museum. Photos by Jack A. Atkinson © 2011.)

Story of Clyfford Still's life. 
Clyfford Still was a leader in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. Still's contemporaries included Philip GustonFranz KlineWillem de KooningRobert MotherwellBarnett NewmanJackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Though the styles and approaches of these artists varied considerably, Abstract Expressionism is marked by abstract forms, expressive brushwork, and monumental scale, all of which were used to convey universal themes about creation, life, struggle, and death ("the human condition"), themes that took on a considerable relevance during and after World War II. Described by many as the most anti-traditional of the Abstract Expressionists, Still is credited with laying the groundwork for the movement. Still's shift from representational painting to abstraction occurred between 1938 and 1942, earlier than his colleagues, who continued to paint in figurative-surrealist styles well into the 1940s.

Still was born in 1904 in Grandin, North Dakota and spent his childhood in Spokane, Washington and Bow Island in southern Alberta, Canada. Although Abstract Expressionism is identified as a New York movement, Still's formative works were created during various teaching posts on the West Coast, first at Washington State University (1935–41). His work of this period is marked by an expressive figurative style used in depictions of the people, buildings, tools and machinery characteristic of farm life. By the late 1930s, he began to simplify his forms as he moved from representational painting toward abstraction. In 1941 Still relocated to the San Francisco Bay area where, following work in various war industries, he became a highly influential professor at the California School of Fine Arts, now known as the San Francisco Art Institute. He taught there from 1946-1950 (with a break in the summer of 1948 when he returned to New York). It was during this time when Still "broke through" to his mature style. Still also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1943-45.

Still visited New York for extended stays in the late 1940s and became associated with two of the galleries that launched the new American art to the world — Peggy Guggenheim's The Art of This Century Gallery and the Betty Parsons Gallery. Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim, who gave him a solo exhibition at her Art of This Century Gallery in early 1946. Later that year, the artist returned to San Francisco, where he taught for the next four years at the California School of Fine Arts.
He lived in New York for most of the 1950s, the height of Abstract Expressionism, but also a time when he became increasingly critical of the art world. In the early 1950s, Still severed ties with commercial galleries and in 1961 moved to Maryland, removing himself further from the art world. He remained in Maryland with his second wife, Patricia, until his death in 1980. Following his death, all works that had not entered the public domain were sealed off from both public and scholarly view. 

(Source for biography: Wikipedia)

A Holiday 
Dinner Party 
(4-6 people)

Roasted Pork Shoulder
Cocktails: Warm Cheese and Crackers
Wine: Big House Red
Entree: Roasted pork shoulder with apple dressing.
Side Salad: Roasted Tomato with diced roasted red peppers and watercress.
Warm Crusty Bread
Dessert: Rum Cake and Coffee

When guests arrive, fix your favorite mixed drink, then microwave some brie until soft and creamy. Serve with your choice of crackers and a spreader or butter knife.

Recipe for Roasted Pork Shoulder
1 four pound boneless pork shoulder
1 jar of cinnamon apple slices
2 Tbls chopped onion
2 Tbls chopped celery
2 Tbls butter
2 cups whole wheat toasted bread cubes
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Start with a boneless pork shoulder and allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Cut a pocket for the dressing through the fatty side of the meat. Saute onion and celery in the butter for 5 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup syrup from apples with toasted bread cubes, salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Stuff the shoulder with this mixture. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel, score the fat with a crisscross pattern, spray all over lightly with cooking oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up. Cook the pork shoulder in a slow oven (325 degrees F.) for 3 hours. Add apple slices to the pan and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove and allow meat 10 minutes to rest before carving. Serve meat slices with some dressing. 

Recipe for Roasted Tomato with Roasted Red Peppers and Watercress.
Cut an x in the top of 6 tomatoes. The night before set oven to 150 degrees. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast uncovered overnight  After cooking, cut the top off of the tomato, dress with diced roasted peppers, watercress and dressing (olive oil and white vinegar 3 to 1+ squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of salt & pepper). Serve this tomato salad on a separate salad plate.

Rum Cake
Buy a pound cake and slice it lengthwise into three layers. Spread Rum Custard Cream between the layers. Sprinkle dark rum on top of the cake, then spread with semisweet chocolate frosting. 

 - Recipe for Rum Custard
2 Tbls dark rum
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbls flour
1 egg beaten
2/3 cup light cream
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a double boiler add sugar, flour, egg and light cream. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Chill for 1 hour, then fold in whipped cream.

 - Recipe for Chocolate Rum Frosting
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate bits
2 Tbls soft butter
1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
2 Tbls dark rum

Melt chocolate in a sauce pot or double boiler over hot, not boiling, water. Add butter, sugar and rum. Stir until smooth. Let cool 15 minutes or until it thickens some, then spread on cake.

Until later,


ARTSnFOOD All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images are ©  copyright individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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