Bonfils-Stanton Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, Levels 3 & 4, Hamilton Building
Renowned for its impressive collection of modern masterworks and outstanding contemporary objects, the modern and contemporary collection represents more than a century of artistic innovation. Encompassing over 12,500 works made since 1900, the museum’s collection includes works by such artistic luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as 33 paintings, drawings, and collages by the acclaimed abstract-expressionist Robert Motherwell. The collection also holds representative works from the major post-war art movements, including abstract expressionism, minimalism, pop art, conceptual art, and contemporary realism.
It is also home to the Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive, a repository that counts over 8,000 objects in its collection.
Collection of Polly and Mark Addison
Among the early supporters of the newly formed department were Polly and Mark Addison, who joined other enthusiasts to found the Alliance for Contemporary Art (now named DAM Contemporaries) in 1978, a group whose fundraising activities have helped the department underwrite many important purchases and programs. In the early 2000s, the Denver Art Museum’s acquisition efforts were enhanced when the Addisons initiated an active gift-giving program. Colorado residents and long-time museum supporters, the Addisons are passionate, intelligent collectors of contemporary art in all media who generously share their finds—from time-based work and sculpture to installation art and photography—with the museum. Audience favorites such as Jim Green’s Singing Sinks (located on level one of the North Building) and Charles Sandison’s Chamber (conceived of and installed for the exhibitions Embrace! and Blink! Light, Sound and the Moving Image) are among the many important works the Addisons’ support has brought to the museum.
Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan
Learn more on the Logan Collection page.
Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive
The Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive contains over 8,000 works of art and design, along with extensive documentary material. This internationally important repository is dedicated to the legacy of the Austrian-born Bauhaus master who lived in Colorado for 28 years. The core of this collection and archive came through the artist’s bequest, and scholars visit from around the world to engage in research here. Selected works are displayed on the lower level of the Hamilton Building.
Born in 1900 in Austria, Herbert Bayer immigrated to the United States in 1938. He moved from New York to Aspen in 1946 at the behest of Walter Paepcke, chairman of the Container Corporation of America. Bayer’s influence is still evident today, especially at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies.
Unless otherwise noted, all publications were published by the Denver Art Museum. Many of the titles are available to purchase in the Shop.
- Women of Abstract Expressionism. Edited by Joan Marter; Gwen Chanzit, curator. Denver Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2016.
- Nick Cave: Sojourn. Kyle MacMillan and William Morrow. Denver Art Museum, 2013.
- Collecting Ideas: Modern & Contemporary Works from the Polly and Mark Addison Collection. Nancy B. Tieken. Denver Art Museum, 2013.
- Companion to Focus: Robert Motherwell from the Collection. Nancy B. Tieken. Denver Art Museum, 2011.
- Companion to Focus: The Figure, Art from the Logan Collection. Nancy B. Tieken. Denver Art Museum, 2011.
- Overthrown: Clay Without Limits. Volumes I and II. Gwen Chanzit. Denver Art Museum, 2011.
- Companion to Blink! Light, Sound and the Moving Image. Jill Desmond. Denver Art Museum, 2011.
- Embrace! Volumes I and II. Christoph Heinrich, Denver Art Museum, 2009–2010.
- RADAR: Selections from the Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan. Dianne Perry Vanderlip, Gwen Chanzit, et al. Denver Art Museum, 2007.
- From Bauhaus to Aspen: Herbert Bayer and Modernist Design in America. Gwen F. Chanzit. Boulder: Johnson Books, 2005.
- The View from Denver: Contemporary American Art from the Denver Art Museum. Dianne Perry Vanderlip et al. Denver Art Museum/Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, 1997.
- Visions of America: Landscape as Metaphor in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the Denver Art Museum and the Columbus Museum of Art, 1994.
While the modern and contemporary department was not officially established until 1978, it has its roots in the 1950s, when the visionary Lewis Wingfield Story served as assistant director of the museum. Story’s commitment to contemporary art was profound, and for three decades he was almost solely responsible for keeping the spirit of contemporary art alive at the DAM. Story also successfully advocated that the modern and contemporary collection encompass photography, a field that was not particularly popular or even accepted as a serious art form by most American museums in the early 1970s.
In 1976, under the leadership of Story and the newly appointed Director Thomas N. Maytham, the Board of Trustees made the critical decision to begin acquiring contemporary American art. Among the museum’s first major acquisitions was Frank Stella’s Warka I (1973). Two years later, Maytham appointed Dianne Vanderlip the museum’s first curator of modern and contemporary art and charged her with defining the newly minted department’s direction and collecting efforts. For more than 25 years, Vanderlip built not only the collection, but also lasting relationships with artists, gallery owners, and influential collectors.
Modern and contemporary curator Gwen Chanzit arrived in 1980, first to work on the Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive, and then in a broader curatorial role that she maintains today. Christoph Heinrich—now the Denver Art Museum’s director— joined the department as a curator in 2007 and contributed mightily to the collection that has grown to more than 12,500 works in a variety of media.
Early donors Lucile and Donald Graham, T. Edward and Tullah Hanley, Marion G. Hendrie, the Charles Francis Hendrie Memorial Collection, Vance and Anne Kirkland, and Kimiko and John Powers contributed to the museum’s rich modern collection. More recently, donors such as Jana and Fred Bartlit, Merle Chambers and Hugh Grant, and the Eleanor and Henry Hitchcock Foundation have made major contributions to the expanding collection of contemporary art.
- Gwen F. Chanzit, Ph.D., Curator of Modern Art and the head of the Modern & Contemporary Art Department
- Rebecca R. Hart, The Polly and Mark Addison Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art
- Danielle St. Peter, Interpretive Specialist
- Renée Miller, Curatorial Assistant
- Julie Augur, Adjunct Curator, Drawings
- Hugh Grant, Adjunct Curator, Kirkland Collection
- William Morrow, Polly and Mark Addison Associate Curator of Contemporary Art 2012–2014
- Jessica Brunecky, DAM Contemporaries 2010–2014
- Christoph Heinrich, The Polly and Mark Addison Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art 2007–2009
- Dianne Vanderlip, The Polly and Mark Addison Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art 1978–2007