About Us... et al. In the West Gallery at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is About Us..., put together by freelance curator Mark Addison, who brought in two dozen works of conceptual realism by a raft of internationally known artists in addition to pieces from his own collection. Addison is a major collector, arts advocate and donor who has had a long love affair with conceptual realism. This show takes up the topic of "art about who we are and how we live" and "the big questions of life," according to Addison's statement. In the East Gallery is The Look of Nowhere, an installation by Colorado's own Scott Johnson. It's absolutely great. Walking through the installation feels like a trip to a haunted house, an effect heightened by the spare and dramatic lighting. The last of the three exhibits at BMoCA is Jezebel, a Carla Gannis solo displayed upstairs in the funky and tiny Union Works Gallery. The New York artist does digital prints of staged situations starring steamy women. Through September 6 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th Street, Boulder, 303-443-2122, www.bmoca/org. Reviewed July 10.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The fall opener at the Center for Visual Art is a conscientious survey of the careers of Christo and Jeanne-Claude as seen through their personal print collection documenting their pioneering conceptual work that began in the 1960s. The exhibit, which includes more than a hundred works of art, is a major effort and clearly proves that, like Warhol, Christo and Jeanne-Claude were accurately anticipating the direction of contemporary art over the intervening four decades. Beginning in 1963, Christo began to fantasize about covering landmarks around the world in cloth secured by cables. The show includes ideas such as covering the Flatiron Building in New York, the Pont Alexandre in Paris, and the Vittorio Emanuele monument in Milan. The prints and drawings are all credited solely to Christo, while credit for the environmental pieces, like "Over the River," is shared with Jeanne-Claude. "Over the River" is set for Southern Colorado and will be the second piece by the artists in the state; "Valley Curtain" was installed in Rifle Gap back in the '70s.Through November 1 at the Metro State College Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207, www.metrostatecva.org.
Clyfford Still Unveiled. A master and pioneer of mid-twentieth-century abstract expressionism, painter Clyfford Still was something of an eccentric in the artist-as-egomaniac stripe. His antisocial behavior led to a situation where 94 percent of his artworks remained together after he died — a staggeringly complete chronicle of his oeuvre that is now owned by the City of Denver. As a planned Clyfford Still Museum won't be completed until 2010, the institution's founding director, Dean Sobel, decided to preview a baker's dozen of Still's creations at the Denver Art Museum. Sobel uses the very small show to lay out most of the artist's career and stylistic development. Still worked his way from regionalism to surrealism, then wound up developing abstract expressionism with one of the greatest abstract paintings imaginable, "1944 N No. 1" — and the rest is art history. Through November 16 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed July 26, 2007.
Picasso Etchings, 1966-1971
Susanne Kühn. Using pictures to tell stories was definitely a no-no in classic modern art and for the first three quarters of the twentieth century. That changed in the 1980s and '90s, when narrative painting made a huge comeback in contemporary art circles. One of the vanguards of this movement was the New Leipzig School from Germany. The artist featured in the eponymous solo Susanne Kühn, at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, is too young to be part of that movement, but her work is definitely the heir to it. Cydney Payton, director and chief curator of the MCA, put the exhibit together and has written an essay for the catalogue. Kühn's approach to picture-making is complex, with a decidedly photographic quality to her renderings. But the colors are strangely toned-up, which denies any sense of photographic realism. Kuhn also uses subtly different points of view and therefore employs differing perspectives, which also works against the idea of strictly representing external reality. But these disconnections meld as much as they collide with one another. Through September 21 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, ww.mcadenver.org. Reviewed June 19.
Landscapes From the Age of Impressionism. Bringing the easel into the sunshine is rather pretentiously called plein-air painting, which simply means painting outdoors. But the fact that the word "air" is used — even if it is in French — is telling, because many of these artists went on to try and depict the air itself as it enveloped the landscape. This approach, which was new and different in the nineteenth century, is the underlying organizing theme of this traveling show in the Gallagher Family Gallery at the Denver Art Museum. It features more than three dozen landscape paintings from the collection of New York's Brooklyn Museum, all of which were painted — or at least sketched out — right on site. The Denver stop has been arranged by assistant curator Angelica Daneo so that viewers can take a straightforward trajectory through the material, beginning with the painters of the French Academic tradition, continuing with the French impressionists, and winding up with the critiques of impressionism done by American artists. Through September 7 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed June 19.
Picasso Etchings 1966-1971. In the 1960s, Picasso was in his eighties, in declining health and living as something of a recluse in the south of France. This marked a big change from his traditional lifestyle, for which he had invented the concept of the celebrity artist; during the first half of the twentieth century, he seemed to always be out and about in just about every realm of French culture, from high society to the Marxist intelligentsia. So when he was housebound at the end of his life — he died in 1973 — he started to populate his pictures not with what he saw, but with his memories and with imagery from the history of art. There are characters from his turn-of-the-century Rose Period next to 1930s-style surrealist renditions of his former lovers along with a depiction of an old master thrown in for good measure. Though he continued to paint, he also did etchings, and that's the focus of this interesting exhibit at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The etchings have been loaned by Leslie Sacks Fine Art in Los Angeles, with curator Tariana Navas-Nieves having made the selections. Through September 14 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581, www.csfineartscenter.org.
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