Art News from Around the World

Libeskind's Latest: Dresden

Daniel Libeskind's Military History Museum Grand Opening
Dresden's Museum of Miltary History - photo © Bitter Bredt, courtesy Studio Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind, the architect behind the Denver Art Museum's 2006 addition has yet another museum commission under his belt with the opening of the Dresden Museum of Military History this week.
  • Click Here for details from the Studio Daniel Libeskind Website
  • Click Here for some pictures from online magazine De Zeen


Vik Muniz Waste Land on DVD


One of the most exciting exhibits to wind through Denver over the last few years was the 2007 Vik Muniz exhibit at the Museo de las Americas. Muniz is internationally known for his witty riffs on the history of art, recreating great masterpieces out of chocolate sauce, PB&J and dust to name just a few of his eclectic media. One of his themes, portraits from arranged junkyard detritus, became the narrative of an Academy Award nominated documentary "Waste Land" which had a brief one week run in Denver last year, and is now available on DVD and as a streaming selection on Netflix. The film by Lucy Walker chronicles Muniz' travels from his US base in Brooklyn back to his native Brazil where he collaborates with scavengers who eek out a living plucking recyclables from
"the world's largest garbage dump" and then chronicles their myriad self-portraits built up from the intricately arranged refuse. - KLH


Cast Your Vote: Art of Video Games

The Smithsonian Museum of American Art in DC is planning an interesting exhibit "The Art of Video Games" which will highlight the work of the behind the scenes creatives responsible for the last 40 years of gaming graphics and effects. While the exhibit is still over a year away (spring 2012), the museum is currently taking votes for the top game graphics via the exhibition's website at The graphics are divided into 5 eras, from the 70s to now, and I found myself growing sentimental while perusing some of the classics, not to mention quite amazed at how exciting and fresh some of the images are from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

And my votes for Denver's best take on video games through art go to: 1) Kym Bloom's Pac-Man riff "Fruits of the Chase" from her 2010 exhibit at Kanon; and 2) Lee Wiesenfeld's twisted take on
Pac-Man "The Gobbler" -KLH

Still from Microsurgeon, 1982 by Rick Levine
Kym Bloom - "Fruits of the Chase"

Still from Lee Wiesenfeld's 2008 video "The Gobbler"


SFMOMA Chooses Snøhetta Over Adjaye

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - Third Street Entrance - Photo by Ken Hamel/

David Adjaye, the architect behind Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art at Delgany and 15th, had been in the running to design a major expansion at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, however on July 21st the museum announced the selection of Norwegian design house Snøhetta as the architectural lead on the $250 million project. While SFMOMA currently boasts 65,000 sq feet of exhibition space, the expansion will add 100,000 sq ft of additional gallery and public space, and also create a home for the outstanding Fisher Collection which is currently on display but only until September 19th. - KLH

Click here for the press release.

Read more: SFMOMA Chooses Snøhetta Over Adjaye


The new Mather:Kunst in Amsterdam rises from the ashes of Andenken Denver

Andenken Gallery, long a Denver underground staple is in transition: after life on 21st and Market and then 30th and Larimer, under the auspices of Hyland Mather and then Tom Horne, the gallery is more or less closed as it was. Hyland has opened "Mather:Kunst" in a "new Andenken Gallery" space in Amsterdam, and Tom has moved out of the Block Building to 555 Santa Fe Drive into the new Black Book Gallery opening this Friday June 4th. - KLH

Black Book Gallery
555 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204

Builderdijkkade 60


Leo & His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli

Leo Castelli (left) with Andy Warhol (right) 1966 - NY Times

For your summer reading list: Author Annie Cohen-Solal’s 2009 biography of NY art impresario Leo Castelli was recently translated from the orignal French into English and released in the US as "Leo & His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli."

From the LA Times Book Reveiw by Mark Lamster: A dealer and his galaxy of art stars in 'Leo and His Circle"
Of Castelli's family history, Cohen-Solal provides more information than the average reader, especially one hoping for a gossipy art-world tell-all, may be willing to bear. Indeed, she has practically created two independent books joined at the middle, one examining the Castelli family's trials and tribulations over five generations, the second picking up in detail after Leo's arrival in the U.S. in 1941, a refugee from the Nazi extermination machine. Both, it should be said, are well worth reading.


Whitney Says Goodbye to the UES

Whitney Downtown - Rendering by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper, Robertson & Partners

(from the press release)

In an historic decision for the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to break ground on a new museum building in downtown Manhattan in May 2011. Located in the Meatpacking District on Gansevoort Street between West Street and the High Line, the six-floor, 195,000-square-foot building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, will provide the Whitney with essential new space for its collection, exhibitions, and education and performing arts programs in one of New York’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

The fundraising campaign for downtown, currently in its leadership phase, has already reached $372 million, which represents 63% of the $590 million goal. The total project budget is $680 million, which includes $230 million for the endowment, as well as construction and land costs.

“The Board’s decision to break ground next spring is the crucial next step in the evolution of our downtown museum, one which will ensure that the Whitney can boldly realize its mission to be the defining museum of 20th- and 21st-century American art,” said Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum. “I am thrilled by the remarkable strides we’ve made with this transformative project and am enormously grateful for the unfaltering devotion and commitment of our Board, the City and State, our downtown neighbors, the arts community, and all of our supporters.”

Robert J. Hurst, co-chairman of the Whitney Board of Trustees, said, “With this vote, the Board of Trustees has signaled definitively its commitment to realizing this immensely important and exciting new building project.” Co-chairman Brooke Garber Neidich said, “We are heartened to have reached nearly two-thirds of our fundraising campaign goal, a full year before groundbreaking. It reflects the tremendous enthusiasm for this project and the future of the Whitney.”

“The museum will be a dynamic new presence downtown,” said Neil G. Bluhm, president of the Board of Trustees, “both as an architectural landmark designed by the great Renzo Piano and as a vital resource that engages the neighborhood, enlivens the cultural dialogue, and welcomes the people of New York and beyond.”

The vote to break ground on the site is the latest in a series of major project milestones. Last year, the Whitney entered into an agreement with the City of New York to purchase the site; the museum has completed the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) zoning process, and demolition of the site has begun. The building is projected to open to the public in 2015.

The Board also has agreed that the Whitney will continue discussions with The Metropolitan Museum of Art regarding the potential use of the Whitney’s uptown building on Madison Avenue. The boards of both institutions have authorized the discussions to determine the scope and timing of this potential collaboration.

Read more: Whitney Says Goodbye to the UES

NY Times "30 Minutes" with Daniel Libeskind

Architect Daniel Libeskind - photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Vivian Marino of the NY Times interviews Daniel Libeskind, architect of the Denver Art Museum's 2006 expansion at 13th and Acoma and master plan architect for the reconstruction of the NYC World Trade Center complex post 9/11. From the interview:

Q: Many call you a “starchitect.” How does that make you feel?

A: I couldn’t care less. But the truth is people have rediscovered architecture. Ground zero had a lot to do with raising expectations, because it was a public process and people were very involved and there was an emotional resonance.  I consider this a renaissance: a rediscovery that architecture isn’t just a bunch of concrete slabs, that it’s cultural and has to have a sustainable idea to it.


USPS Squeezes Abstract Expressionists Down To Size


There's something incredibly ironic about taking art known for its bold scale and shrinking it down to a postage stamp, but these new stamps from the USPS will no doubt add a nice touch to your next bulk mailing... - KLH

(from the press release)

United States Postal Service Honors Abstract Expressionists

The U.S. Postal Service honors the artistic innovations and achievements of a group of artists who moved the United States to the forefront of the international art scene with the release of the Abstract Expressionists commemorative postage stamps. The vibrant stamps feature works by Hans Hoffmann, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Joan Mitchell.

“These bold artists used art to express complicated ideas and primitive emotions in simplified, abstract form,” said Linda Kingsley, USPS senior vice president, Strategy and Transition. “Although these stamps can’t compare in size to their real-life canvases, they bring the passion and spirit of abstract expressionism to an envelope near you. The Postal Service is proud to pay tribute to the legacy and unique perspectives of these revolutionary artists.”

Abstract expressionists believed that art no longer depicted experience but became the experience itself. They emphasized spontaneous, free expression and allowed personal intuition and the unconscious to guide their choice of imagery. Other shared traits include the use of large canvases and an emphasis on paint texture and distinctive brushstrokes.

"The abstract expressionists began one of the most important art movements in the last century, placing New York and American art at the very center of the art world for the first time,” noted Louis Grachos, director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, home of four of the works featured on the stamps. “The Albright-Knox Art Gallery was one of the first museums to begin collecting abstract expressionist paintings, and we are very proud that work from our collection was chosen by the Postal Service as some of the finest examples of the period.”

One of the most influential art teachers of the 20th century, Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) pioneered a method of improvisational painting that helped shape the development of abstract art after World War II. The Golden Wall (1961) features his trademark “push and pull” technique: geometric shapes that animate the canvas by seeming to shift and overlap.

Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) created a uniquely American blend of inspiration from late medieval and early Italian Renaissance masters, European cubism, and the freely expressive line of surrealism in his innovative “Pictographs” of the 1940s. Romanesque Façade (1949) brings together his aspiration to be intuitively understandable to everyone and to convey a universal emotional reality.

Mark Rothko (1903-1970) is best known for his monumental paintings of two or more rectangles floated within a field of color. Orange and Yellow (1956) features two rectangles painted in the vibrant tones that Rothko favored. Far from static, the rectangles seem to stretch and contract, while translucent, luminous colors bring them to life.

Influencing much of the American abstract art that followed, Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) developed an original style that combined cubism and surrealism with his own disguised imagery. The Liver Is the Cock’s Comb (1944) — one of his largest and greatest pictures — uses abstract forms to camouflage a deeply personal portrait of his family at home.

Clyfford Still (1904-1980) painted ponderous, abstract canvases to convey universal themes about the human condition. 1948-C (1948) illustrates his signature style of richly textured surfaces, expressive lines and shapes, and sublime color in an expansive field. Still kept tight control of his work, much of which has never been seen.

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) transformed the traditions of European art to create his own energetic and unconstrained style. While much of his work was entirely abstract, de Kooning’s best-known paintings blend abstraction and figural representation. Skittering black lines, shifting shapes, fragmented body parts, and flashes of color fill the surface of his 1948 work Asheville.

Barnett Newman (1905-1970) created deceptively simple works often characterized by large, even expanses of a single color punctuated by one or more vertical lines, which he called “zips.” One of several works based on ancient Greek mythology, Achilles (1952) does not feature a zip but rather a swath of red paint that moves down the canvas to end in a ragged edge.

Best known for his poured paintings, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) created spontaneously painted works that marked a break with artistic tradition. For Convergence (1952), he laid blue and white clouds and loops of red and yellow atop a black-and-white base. The expressive color and drawing are so fresh that the paint still looks wet.

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) viewed literature and philosophy as integral components of his art. He is best known for the “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” series, an ambitious group of somber abstract paintings. Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34 (1953-1954) features black bars and ovals and vertical white stripes that partly obscure colors that refer to the flag of the Spanish Republic.

Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) created expansive paintings with an energetic style distinguished by large gestural strokes, driving brushwork, and emotional intensity. She is perhaps best known for her ability to communicate the visual sentiments of nature — or, in her own words, “to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower.” La Grande Vallée 0 (1983) is one of 21 opulent French landscapes.


Libeskind Does Vegas

Daniel Libeskind's "Crystals" at the Las Vegas City Center (bottom left) - photos by Ken Hamel/

At one time, Las Vegas was known primarily for smoke filled casinos, gaudy neon buffets and Wayne Newton-esque entertainment, but that was then; the new Vegas is "CityCenter," a 21st century mélange of glass and steel smack dab in the heart of "the Strip." The project brings together world renown architectural superstars including Rafael Vinoly (Cleveland Art Museum expansion), César Pelli (Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers), David Rockwell (London's "Glass Gherkin"), Helmut Jahn (the architect for the local Auraria campus library among other significant structures worldwide) and Daniel Libeskind (of the DAM's Hamilton Building.) The starchitects' projects are chock-full of contemporary artwork from the likes of Frank Stella, Julian Schnabel, Henry Moore, Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer and Robert Rauschenberg, giving the entire complex the urban vibe of an art museum (which is incredibly ironic given that the local Las Vegas Art Museum is on temporary hiatus until the "economy turns around.")

Regardless of CityCenter's Hail Mary financing and Green-ness (or lack thereof, per Adobe Airstream's Leanne Goebel), the project is a site to behold and a must see for any fan of art and architecture passing time in Sin City. And the rank-and-file focal point is undeniably Daniel Libeskind's "Crystals" (aka the shopping mall component of the project) as only a press release can summarize: "showcasing an unparalleled array of the world’s most exclusive retailers and forever redefining the Las Vegas retail experience."

As staunch a critic of Libeskind's DAM experiment as any, I have to say I was impressed with Crystals and found Libeskind's hand much lighter in service to commerce as opposed to art. The interior spaces are open and light filled, soaring up into a variety of obtuse steeple like expanses. In spite of CityCenter's provenance on the Strip, Libeskind's exterior commands attention in a very sophisticated, one might argue understated manner, given the world of pyramids, castles, faux-Paris/NY City-scapes and shipwrecks that abound nearby.

While it's painless to stroll right into Crystals ground level from the Strip, I recommend starting at the Bellagio (an event in itself, with the magnificent Dale Chihuly glass lobby and Conservatory currently decked out for the Chinese New Year) where the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is hosting an exhibit highlighting the work of the "Artists and Architects of CityCenter," a worthwhile gallery overview of the talent crammed into CityCenter (on display until April 2010.) But visiting the Crystals via the Bellagio more importantly lets you enter from the Monorail stop that connects the Bellagio to the Crystals and drops you off at the building's top level allowing you to wind your way into the belly of the building, much like descending from the 4th floor of the DAM's Hamilton building (albeit without the dread and vertigo.) Also be sure to pick up the "CityCenter Fine Art Collection" pamphlet at the mall's information desk which features a guide to the 17 major artworks on display throughout the CityCenter complex.

Crystals is not without it's own Libeskind controversy: Torontonians have aptly pointed out that Libeskind sold them a design based on the Royal Ontario Museum's gem and mineral collection and have now found their local ROM Crystal recycled Vegas-style (David Fleischer: "Anything but Crystal Clear") while LA Times critic and Libeskind hater Christopher Hawthorne posits: "What to say, really, about an architect who has now recycled the same mournful, jagged forms that he deployed in the deeply moving Jewish Museum in Berlin and in his design for the World Trade Center site for use in a high-end shopping mall on the Las Vegas Strip?"

Click here for additional pix of the Crystals interior...

Additional CityCenter news:


Read more: Libeskind Does Vegas


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