In 2013, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) continued to strategically enhance the breadth and depth of its collection through a variety of major acquisitions, both gifts and purchases, across all of its curatorial departments. The ongoing refinement and expansion of the museum’s collection exemplifies the DAM’s enduring commitment to maintain a diverse collection that reflects the community and provides invaluable ways for audiences to learn about cultures from around the world.
2013 selected acquisition highlights include:
Architecture, Design and Graphics Department
Ron Arad, Rolling Volume Chair, 1989.
While much of Ron Arad’s early work is characterized by the use of found materials, Arad has used steel—an easily manipulated material that affords experimentation with a multitude of finishes—almost exclusively in his furniture designs. The Rolling Volume Chair (1989), forms part of the Volumes series (1988), a seminal body of work that furthered Arad’s examination of the expressive possibilities of welding and helped refine his iconic style. Each limited edition object from the series explores Arad’s interest in the opposing concepts of empty and full; soft and hard; and light and heavy.
Dually working as a sleek abstract sculpture and a functional piece of furniture, the Rolling Volume Chair is weighted to balance the sitter and tilt upwards when not in use to create an expressive volumetric form. This gift by Robert and Lisa Kessler marks the first work of Arad’s to enter the collection.
Native Arts Department
Kent Monkman, Fisher River Band Cree, Lot’s Wife, 2012.
Canadian artist Kent Monkman works in a variety of media including painting, film/video, performance and installation. Inspired by his Cree ancestry, Monkman seeks to alter historical perceptions of native peoples on issues such as cultural oppression, representation, gender and sexuality. His work challenges viewers with a retelling of the past that illuminates overlooked aspects of history and celebrates the Native American community’s heritage.
In Lot’s Wife, which is based on the biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah, Monkman invokes the character of Lot’s wife to tell the story of the relocation and feelings of loss experienced by the artist’s great-grandmother, Caroline Everet. Similar to the expulsion of Lot’s wife, Everet was forcibly removed from her home by the Canadian government and relocated elsewhere.
Monkman states, “Lot’s wife was punished for looking back at her homeland as she was being expelled from it. I have transposed the punishment of Lot’s wife to my alter ego Miss Chief for looking back and for the sin of having a memory.” Through this work, Monkman warns against losing sight of history and how unfortunate events of the past can reoccur in present.
This acquisition demonstrates the native arts department’s commitment to actively collecting and presenting contemporary native art.
Modern and Contemporary Art Department
Nick Cave, Untitled, 2013.
Contemporary artist Nick Cave debuted a new body of work in Nick Cave: Sojourn at the Denver Art Museum June 9–September 22, 2013. The exhibition took visitors on a journey through the artist’s imagination and featured 40 new artworks including 26 new Soundsuits. The museum acquired this untitled Soundsuit creation that embodies the colors, textures and multi-sensory elements that are characteristic of Cave’s artwork. The piece includes the artist’s signature combination of figurative form with an assemblage decorative motif that has defined his oeuvre over the last 20 years. The work also represents a significant shift towards installation, an important takeaway from Cave’s mid-career exhibition at the DAM.
Cave’s work relates to the DAM’s growing collection of artists of his generation such as Leonardo Drew, Tucker Nichols, Shinique Smith and Kathryn Spence.
Petrie Institute of Western American Art
Thomas Moran, Snowy Range, 1896.
Frederic Remington, The Broncho Buster (Wooly Chaps), first modeled in 1895.
Frederic Remington’s The Broncho Buster (Wooly Chaps) and Thomas Moran’s Snowy Range are part of a transformative gift that has further strengthened DAM’s holdings as one of the nation’s most significant collections of western American art. In August 2013, the DAM announced that Denver collector Henry Roath will gift the museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art (PIWAA) approximately 50 artworks by seminal masters of the American West including Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington and Ernest L. Blumenschein. Considered one of the best private collections of western American art in private hands, the Roath collection focuses on art of the American Southwest with a particular strength in works from members of the Taos Society of Artists.
Further enabling the continued growth of DAM’s western American art collection, Roath has also contributed a financial gift of $500,000 to help establish a fund for future art acquisitions, which has already garnered more than $1 million in total donations.
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