Beautiful, inspiring, soaring - Daniel Libeskind's 2006 addition to the Denver Art Museum slices and dices space, daring the viewer to find a right angle as it shoots across the street pointing toward the original buildings. Clad in titanium and glass, the sculptural Frederic C. Hamilton is a monolithic wonder inside and out.
Known to have challenges in the dryness department during rains, my recent visit there on a very wet day confirmed that, yes, the building leaks. But drips notwithstanding, it is a spectacular structure. Once inside, Boettcher Canyon Walk beckons you to ascend. Hiking up the stairs, nature is abstracted via twinkling starry lights and areas of shadowed darkness juxtaposed with those washed with daylight.
In a collaboration between artist Miyajima and a group of invited Denver citizens, ENGI comprises 80 mirrored discs, flashing numerals one through nine in ascending or descending order.
Even seating has unconventional angles.
The skywalk connects old and new buildings and on one side, a model of the new Clyfford Still Museum, overlooks its construction site below. (Note: opened in November 2011, it will be featured in an upcoming post.) A leading 20th Century painter and developer of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Still bequeathed over 2,400 pieces to the lucky City of Denver. Some of the special features of the new 30,000 square foot museum will include a unique cast concrete exterior and state of the art daylighting system.
This birds-eye view of the walkway, Libeskind building, and The Big Sweep by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg is from the top floor of the seven-story South building (below) designed by Italian Gio Ponti and local architect James Sudler. Completed in 1971, it has twenty-four sides clad in glass tiles that were specially designed by Dow Corning.
Slits of windows provide views that allow us to appreciate exterior architectural details, while allowing just the right amount of daylight into the galleries without damaging the art.
Denver Art Museum has one of the best collections of Native American Art in the world, and the spacious installations throughout the galleries pay homage to each piece as art rather than an anthropological specimen. Most are exhibited out in the open, giving the work an unusual degree of accessibility.
DAM is also known internationally for its Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art.
Creative learning centers are sprinkled throughout the galleries, and the comfortable seating and study areas invite visitors to stay awhile to learn more.
The Lutz Bamboo Gallery (upper right) delicately displays collections begun by Walter and Mona Lutz in 1945 when they met and married in her home country of Japan. There they scoured the countryside and antique galleries. In the next three decades they traveled to China and Korea, expanding their holdings and family; the gallery now rotates bamboo objects from three generations.
Mid-Century Modern furniture and objects are thoughtfully and openly displayed. Like the Native American galleries, this system makes objects more accessible.
California's not the only place for happy cows, as evidenced by Dan Ostermiller's sculpture Scottish Angus and Calf. Rendered, on a huge scale, in the tradition of 19th century animalier art, the sculpture pays homage to the cattle culture of Colorado, from which Denver’s economy and society benefited for generations.
The marketing department has fun with the museum's acronym on everything from coffee mugs to erasers. DAM - that is great art!
To learn more: Denver Art Museum
Keep cruisin'....Kimball Art Museum