Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kirkland Museum's "Colorado 15" Exhibit

A big stir among the art world and the press happened in 1948 when a group of 15 Colorado artists broke off from the Denver Artist Guild.  For they wanted to express themselves in "modernist" styles.  The Kirkland Museum has a fabulous exhibit right now featuring these 15 artists; "15 Colorado Artists: Breaking With Tradition."  Sixty-three years ago, columnist Lee Carey of the Rocky Mountain News wrote, "The influence of decadent Parisians... Picasso and Cezanne... has even been felt in the west.  Santa Fe has been damaged by it and Denver has not wholly escaped the blight... In western art, western literature and bourbon, I'll take mine straight."  Don't you love it?  I wonder what Mr. Carey would have to say about some of the art today.
Paul Smith's painting, Hillside and Houses, was inspired by Cezanne's landscapes.  I can easily picture this scene in many of the old mining towns in Colorado.
 Keeping with the influences of Picasso, Smith also was attracted to Cubist abstracts.
I really like this self portrait by Jean Charlot.  Originally from Paris, he worked as a muralist along side Diego Rivera. 
 An overview of one of the rooms at the Kirkland Museum with a mix of its permanent collection and works of some of the Colorado 15.
Mina Conart main medium was painting but she also experimented with textiles, serigraphs, mosaics and ceramics, all with an underlying reference to spiritual and medieval themes.
I bet Mina's painting of the bull, titled "Jupiter," was heavily influenced by this lithograph of Pablo Picasso's.
My husband, Len, and I particularly liked Angelo Di Benedetto's "Burlesque."  He incorporated the faces of David Rockefeller, Joseph Stalin as well as his cousin and barber into the painting.  Bendetto commented on his work that "the painting shows the vulgarity of the audience, not the girl."  This reminds me of the post I wrote on May 5, 2010 on the mural that was painted in 1941 by O'Gorman in the library in Patzcuaro, Mexico.  He incorporated the faces of Mussolini and Hitler into his work, comparing them to the evils of the conquistadors.  O'Gorman also worked with Diego Rivera.
I love the movement of Frank J. Varva's "Topsy - Turvy."
Varra was also a successful impressionist muralist.  This is his work titled "Old Washington Park" which today is better known as Roxborough State Park which is in the outskirts of Denver.
Then there is Vance Kirkland himself.  He was years ahead of the group, already immersed in the world of aabstracts.
It is a wonderful show and should you be in Denver, go see it.  It runs through the end of July.

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
1311 Pearl St.

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