I happened to be in Denver this January and was fortunate to have visited the new exhibition: at the Denver Art Museum: “Wyeth, Andrew and Jamie in the Studio” curated by Timothy J. Standring of the Denver Art Museum Staff through Febuary 7, 2016. Standring's interpretation is: “It’s so off the wall, serious, and yet playful with all the different colors and shapes,” he said. “The effect is quite dizzying actually. It’s fabulous.” I have to agree, although those are not the sentiments I might have expected before visiting the show. Andrew Wyeth is primarily known as a realist painter, so well known for the girl sprawled on the grounds of the Cushing House in “Christina's World” from 1948. At a time when abstract expressionism by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, to name a few, were stealing the critics headlines, Andrew Wyeth was winning the admiration of legions of art lovers worldwide with his representations of the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine. Wyeth often noted: “I paint my life.” Despite immense popularity, critical assessments of both his art and legacy remained mixed during his lifetime but the abstract pendulum has continued to move and the representational subjects so loved by Wyeth have gained new respect as exemplified in this new exhibition at the Denver Art Museum. As an aside, it is the art of Jamie Wyeth that really steals this show.
The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, with a collection of more than 70,000 works of art divided between 10 permanent collections including African, American Indian, Asian, European and American, modern and contemporary, pre-Columbian, photography, Spanish Colonial, textile, and western American art. In 1971 the museum opened the 24-sided, two-towered North Building by Ponti in collaboration with James Sudler Associates of Denver. On October 7, 2006, the Denver Art Museum nearly doubled in size when they opened the Frederic C. Hamilton Building which includes new galleries for its permanent collection, three temporary exhibition spaces, art storage, and public amenities. The entire museum complex totals more than 350,000 square feet. The 146,000-square-foot Frederic C. Hamilton Building, a joint venture of Daniel Libeskind and Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects in 2000, is situated directly south of the North Building. Libeskind's design, referential to the original Ponti building, recalls not only the mountain peaks that provide a powerful backdrop for the city, but the intricate and geometric rock crystals found in the foothills of the Rockies.