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Thursday, February 26, 2015

I had my mind blown in Denver

"Split Bush," Harry Bertoia, 1968.

Last Friday, my partner in crime Deidre took me to the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, which is a really long title for what is essentially a little slice of Heaven located in downtown Denver. The museum holds the personal collection of Vance Kirkland (1904-1981), a renowned Colorado painter and art teacher. The Kirkland Museum is housed in the artist's studio and adjacent buildings and features more 3500 works by its namesake and many famous international artists.

"Yellow Vibrations on Grey, Mysteries in Space," Vance Kirkland, 1972.

Kirkland had synesthesia, "a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second." For Kirkland, this presented itself as the ability to "hear" color. Classical music provided the most "desired alloy" of colors for him.

Kirkland's studio.

In order to paint his very large canvases, Kirkland, who was only 5'2", improvised a strap system to suspend himself over his paintings which would be placed on skateboards for ease of movement.

All of that is well and lovely, but what really blew my pants off was the sheer volume of furniture by 20th-century masters. And it's all over the place with no real timeline or exhibition design (see above).

Miz Deidre admiring one of the dozens of cases of pottery and fine china.

It's like stumbling into Aladdin's Cave if Aladdin had a predilection for the works of early to mid-20th century artisans. I went absolutely bonkers, literally sprinting across rooms from one masterpiece to another. These are but a tiny sampling of the scads and scads of photos I took...

A case of Clarice Cliff pieces.

"Red/Blue Chair," Gerrit Reitveld, 1918.
"Zig Zag Chair," Gerrit Reitveld, 1932-34.

"Paimio Scroll Chair," Alvar Aalto, 1930-31.

"Child's Tooth Chair" and "Molar Chair," Wendell Castle, 1969.

 A purple(!!!) Eames rocker.

 "Malitte Seating System," Matta, 1966.

 "Ribbon Chair and Ottoman," Pierre Paulin, 1965-66.

 "Arabesque Lounge Chair," Folke Jansson, 1955.

 Tiled console table, Gio Ponti, 1941.

 Detail of the tile top.

Game table, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, c. 1927.

"The Souper Dress," Andy Warhol, 1966-67.

The museum is basically one enormous cabinet of curiosities filled with (the very valuable) bits and bobs of a magpie collector with an incredible eye for the exceptional. Works include pieces by Paul Evans, Joe Colombo, Cesare Casati, Verner Panton, Cartier, René Lalique, George Nelson, Jean Prouvé, Finn Juhl, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, Eva Zeisel, Eero Aarnio, and Alexander Girard and many, many others.

In 2017, the Kirkland museum will quadruple its size in a move to a brand new building a few blocks away, close to the famed Clyfford Still Musuem. If you're in Denver and have an afternoon, I cannot encourage you enough to make time for a visit. The right hemisphere of your brain will thank you.


Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

How very cool! It appears that the coziness of the space enhances the viewing of the collection, unlike most museums.

Carol in Denver said...

I found myself suffering from oppressive visual overload at the Kirkland Museum. Maybe the new digs will allow some breathing room.