Considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, Clyfford Still (1904–1980) was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists who developed a new and powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. After the artist’s death in 1980, the Clyfford Still Estate was sealed off from public and scholarly view. Still’s will stipulated that his estate be given in its entirety to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to his work, ensuring its survival for exhibition and study. In August 2004, the City of Denver, under the leadership of then Mayor John W. Hickenlooper, was selected by Still’s wife, Patricia Still, to receive the substantial Still collection. In 2005, Patricia Still also bequeathed to the city her own estate, which included select paintings by her husband as well as his complete archives. The Still Museum collection, which represents 95 percent of the artist’s lifetime output, includes approximately 3,125 works created between 1920 and 1980.
The Clyfford Still Museum opened in 2011 and is the newest addition to Denver’s burgeoning Cultural Arts District located adjacent to the Denver Art Museum in the city’s Civic Center Cultural Complex. The two-story, 28,500-square-foot building was designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture specifically to display Still’s work. The museum allows visitors the unique experience to understand the legacy of Clyfford Still, an artist whose life has been shrouded in mystery and the bulk of whose work has been hidden from public view for more than 30 years.