As these summer days continue to reach peak levels of heat, a great alternative to sweating under the sun is visiting the air-conditioned galleries of the Denver Art Museum. In August, four don’t-miss exhibitions are closing, so now is the perfect time to escape the heat and catch the following inspiring, thought-provoking art installations.
Following World War II, the United States experienced its first American-grown modern art movement: abstract expressionism. The avant-garde movement allowed artists of the era to be more experimental and capture more intimacy within their pieces. This exhibition celebrates the loose brushwork and informal drawing style of the movement in its presentation of abstract works from the DAM’s collection by artists including Robert Motherwell, Joan Mitchell and Deborah Remington.
Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out – On view through Aug. 6, Hamilton Building – Level 3
Each contemporary piece in Audacious has the potential to start a dialogue about the world around us. The simplified and, at times, crude depictions in the featured works question cultural conventions as they encourage guests to look twice and think critically. With key contemporary works from the DAM’s collection and signature loans from local collectors, the exhibition highlights artists—Martin Maloney, Ana Mendieta, Barbara Kruger and Christo, among others—making art to convey ideas about culture, human relationships and political issues. If you previously saw the exhibition when it opened, consider a return trip; a handful of thought-provoking artworks were rotated into the Audacious gallery in February.
The exhibition also includes an interactive activity in which guests can place a small colored block in a test tube next to an artwork. Each color represents an emotion (optimistic, angry, empathetic, hopeless, empowered or confused) and provides a visual representation of the varying visitor reactions.
Word Dance: Selections from the Collection of JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey – On view through Aug. 6, Hamilton Building – Level 3
“In some cases words are intended to be read, in others language serves to lend artistic nuance, while still others set out to diffuse the text, confounding the mind,” said art collector JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey, whose collection inspired the exhibition Word Dance. “Each artist is master of his/her own uniquely devised system employing words in an artistry which invites curiosity and demands intimacy; a visual dance across the page.” Text and movement unite in Word Dance with a selection of artworks based on a theme of visual communication. This exhibition comprises works-on-paper from Hickey’s collection that all include text. “While exploring drawings concerned with words, letters or a connection with language, I found a rhythm and movement in these words, hence ‘Word Dance,’” said Julie Augur, adjunct curator of drawings, modern and contemporary art, regarding Hickey’s collection.
Tableau – On view through Aug. 20, Hamilton Building – Level 2
Step into a theatrical fairy-tale world created by Denver illustrator Hadley Hooper. The multitalented artist illustrated, printed, scanned and enlarged her hand-drawn images to set the scene, which was inspired by old theater sets. “These images are familiar, and maybe a bit unsettled,” said Hooper. “They could be oversized creatures from a picture book of fairy tales, but the story is deliberately left undefined.” The immersive installation welcomes visitors to become part of the set, take pictures and share their stories on social media using the hashtag #TableauDAM.
Image: Joan Mitchell, Dune, 1970. Oil paint on canvas. Gift of Dr. Charles and Linda Hamlin on the occasion of Dianne Vanderlip’s 25th year with the Contemporary Collection, 2001.653. © Joan Mitchell Foundation.