Clyfford Still Museum opens Vincent / Clyfford exhibition

Clyfford Still Museum presents Vincent / Clyfford, a focused exhibition exploring connections between Vincent Van Gogh and Clyfford Still on view September 14, 2012 through January 20, 2013. Vincent/Clyfford coincides with the Denver Art Museum’s landmark presentation Becoming Van Gogh (October 21, 2011 through January 20, 2013), and will be complemented by a series of public programs that invite visitors to discover parallels in the work and creative visions of the 19th-century Dutch painter and 20th-century American artist.

Vincent van Gogh Two Peasants Digging, 1889. Oil on canvas, 29.1 x 36.6 in. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Photo (c) Snark / Art Resource, NY.

In the early twentieth century, the once-neglected Van Gogh became highly regarded among European artists, collectors, and critics. By the 1920s, Van Gogh had attained huge popularity in the United States, culminating in the 1930s with Irving Stone’s romanticized biography Lust for Life (1934) and the Museum of Modern Art’s blockbuster retrospective the following year.

Vincent/Clyfford features approximately 20 paintings and works on paper created by Still during this formative period of his career, from the late 1920s and 1930s. These works display direct parallels with Van Gogh’s preferred subject matter—including vignettes of agrarian labor, moody landscapes treated as soul-scapes, and dark interior scenes—as well as his use of the grotesque to accentuate the plight of human beings living on the edge. Still’s tough childhood experiences farming on the prairies of Alberta, Canada, aligned him with Van Gogh’s own close identification with the land and those who toiled on it to survive and both artists interpreted these experiences and perspectives into their creative output. Cycles of growth, decay, and rebirth in their work are evoked in their through recurrent symbols such as corn, the sun, and the sower. Still’s paintings also echo Van Gogh’s in their rich color palette and heavily troweled painterly surfaces.

The exhibition will include extended wall text as well as interpretive materials that illustrate reproductions of Van Gogh works so that visitors can explore these aesthetic, gestural, and thematic comparisons directly. In addition, the Still Museum will launch a series of special gallery talks and public programs that invite further examination of the work and aesthetic styles of these two iconic artists.

The exhibition is curated by David Anfam, the Museum’s Adjunct Curator

For more information about the Clyfford Still Museum, please visit

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