Art Review

Clyfford Still

Next month the Clyfford Still Museum presents a sampling of its spectacular collection of work by the late abstract-expressionist giant, including "Self-Portrait," from 1940 (detail pictured). The exhibit, being mounted at the Denver Art Museum, will be the first opportunity to see the CSM's collection on display — and the last time to see any of the Still pieces until after the Brad Cloepfil-designed building is completed, projected for 2010.

A friend recently forwarded me an article from the New York Times that quoted Cloepfil regarding his current project, the willful destruction of 2 Columbus Circle, a 1960s formalist masterpiece by Edward Durell Stone in Manhattan. For several years, a who's who of American architecture, including Yale architecture school dean Robert A. M. Stern and former Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, had campaigned to save the Stone building, which led Cloepfil to bemoan their lack of intellectual sophistication.

Cloepfil is quoted as saying, "It could have been a more fascinating conversation about the nature of preservation. The debate never got beyond whether this piece of work merited critical preservation." Let me translate: Why actually discuss preserving the building when you can masturbate while fantasizing about how not to?

I have no idea what Cloepfil's Still Museum will look like, but it's hard for me to imagine that anything other than mediocre could come from a mind like his. My friend who sent me the Times article included a single observation in the message box: "What an idiot." After reading the story, I can't agree. He's not an idiot; he's a pretentious moron.

There is the possibility of a happy outcome, though: Maybe the three stooges from the Justice Center project — James Mejia, Guillermo Vidal and Charles DesMoineaux — will be put in charge of the CSM's construction. They ran off Stephen Holl (a truly great architect), so maybe they'll ultimately run off Cloepfil, too. It's our only hope.