Showing Off Highlights Recent Modern and Contemporary Acquisitions

Contemporary American Indian artist Virgil Ortiz presents Revolt 1680/2180 in conjunction with the new presentation

Showing Off: Recent Modern and Contemporary Acquisitions, a new installation of modern and contemporary art, opens May 17 at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). The presentation features gifts, promised gifts and works that the DAM has purchased over the last seven years. Showing Off includes the first-ever, complete presentation of the Revolt series by internationally renowned fashion designer, ceramicist and graphic artist Virgil Ortiz. Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz is the next feature in the DAM’s ongoing initiative to present new work by contemporary American Indian artists.

Showing Off spans level four of the Hamilton Building and consists of 53 works by artists Nick Cave, Leonardo Drew, Eric Fischl, Ben Jackel, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, John McEnroe, Julian Opie, Nam June Paik, Shinique Smith, Stacey Steers and Mark Wallinger, among others. This installation includes approximately 25 works that have not previously been on view at the DAM.

Man viewing Ben Jackel’s Pay Attention, 2012. Pine wood and graphite; 162 x 64 x 11 in. © Ben Jackel.

A prominent piece in the rotation is a monumental wood halberd titled Pay Attention by Colorado native Ben Jackel. Jackel is storming the art world with an arsenal of weapons crafted from clay and wood. Agnes Martin’s White Rose painting, made of acrylic paint and graphite, is another important piece in the rotation and represents one of the finest examples of this well-known abstract artist’s work. The painting is a recent addition to the DAM’s permanent collection.

“Our permanent collection serves as a primary artery to spark and inspire ideas for the next big show,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director at the DAM. “Our modern and contemporary collection continues to strategically grow and shape its identity. It reflects who and where we are now and tells future generations about us. I’m delighted to have the museum showcase the breadth of our latest and promised acquisitions.”

Virgil Ortiz, Velocity, 2011. Clay, slip, and wild spinach paint. Promised gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the collection of the Denver Art Museum. © Virgil Ortiz.

Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz, a primary feature of Showing Off, highlights 31 figurative ceramic sculptures, 23 of which are promised gifts, and uses contemporary art to blend historic events with futuristic elements. The exhibition is set against American Indian artist Virgil Ortiz’s graphic murals, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a storyline that Ortiz created about survival, self-determination and empowerment. The story begins with the historic Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and ends in a futuristic revolt in 2180. Although individual groups in this exhibition have been publicly displayed, this is the first exhibition to encompass the entire Revolt series. Curated by John Lukavic, associate curator of native arts, Revolt is part of the DAM’s initiative to recognize contemporary American Indian artists.

“Ortiz is an American Indian artist who fuses age-old materials and techniques with contemporary and futuristic imagery,” said John Lukavic, associate curator of native arts at DAM. “By sharing the entire Revolt series, we hope visitors will walk away knowing more about an important part of American history and with an appreciation for figurative art. This exhibition is an extension of our commitment to feature American Indian artists who actively engage in today’s vibrant and diverse art world.”

“The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 is a real incident that happened in American history and is not told in any mainstream school history books,” said Virgil Ortiz. “Using traditional methods and materials of clay ceramics fused with a modern twist allows me to share an important part of history, all while exposing visitors to my vision of the Revolt series and my heritage.”

Figures in Revolt, such as Velocity (2012), Steu and Cuda (2014) and Aeronaut—Cuda (2015), demonstrate Ortiz’s mastery of clay, while his complex and intricate line work speaks of a style all his own. Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz is on view May 17, 2015 through Jan. 10, 2016. The exhibition is included in general admission. An exhibition catalog will be available in The Shops and online in May 2015.

Showing Off: Recent Modern and Contemporary Acquisitions and Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz are organized by the Denver Art Museum. The exhibitions are presented with generous support from Vicki and Kent Logan, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4, Comcast Spotlight and The Denver Post.

Media Resources

The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org.