“It’s only by seeing the totality of a man’s life that you can get a measure of it,” or so the painter Clyfford Still told the New York Times in 1971. Four decades later, the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver—which opened in November—offers visitors as close to a total view of the pioneering Abstract Expressionist’s life as he could have possibly wanted. Actually, he insisted on it.
Famously imperious, egoistic, and cantankerous, Still was one of American art’s great mid-century mavericks, known for his raw, abstract paintings from the forties and fifties, featuring jagged fields and fissures in earthy, fiery tones that manage to feel both primal and transcendent. The artist exhibited his work infrequently, and he only sold or donated 150 or so of the roughly 2,500 pieces he created. When Still died, in 1980, he stipulated that nothing in his estate could be sold or given away. The art, all of it packed into his widow’s house in Maryland, had to go to a city that would agree to build a museum with the sole purpose of preserving and showing his work—and only his work.
Set your clocks. This fall the world shifts to “Pacific Standard Time,” the festival of exhibitions and performances highlighting southern California’s contribution to American postwar art and design. Involving more than 60 institutions, Pacific Standard Time gives a West Coast perspective to the period from the mid-1940’s to the 1980’s when the U.S. supplanted Europe as the center of the art universe. Highlights: “Crosscurrents in L.A. Paintings and Sculpture 1950–1970” (Oct. 1–Feb. 5, 2012), at the Getty Center, is a survey ranging from the sculpture of Billy Al Bengston and John McCracken to the conceptual Pop of Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari.
“Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980,” at the UCLA Hammer Museum(through Jan. 8, 2012), sheds new light on the dynamism of African-American expression in the turbulent 60’s and 70’s.
The Museum of Contemporary Art explores post-Vietnam political and social upheaval in works by Raymond Pettibon, Bruce Nauman, and others in “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–1981” (through Feb. 13, 2012).
“California Design, 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art(through Mar. 25, 2012) includes furniture and decorative objects that epitomize California style.
During his 25-year career, the musician, DJ, and tea entrepreneur has traveled the globe, staying in thousands of hotels—which helped inspire his new album, Destroyed (Mute, $15), and an accompanying book of his snapshots (Damiani, $40). T+L checks in with him about his life on the road.
Q: Tell us about your latest project. A: My photos document the unglamorous side of touring. And almost every song on the record had its genesis in a hotel room, usually at around three a.m.