Clyfford Still Museum Exhibition Recreates Exhibition Staged in 1959 in New York

Clyfford Still Museum Exhibition Recreates Exhibition Staged in 1959 in New York

Modern Masters: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery celebrates the era of modern art, the roughly 100-year period of artistic revolution, based mostly in western Europe and the United States, which began around 1870. The story of the exhibition, which opens March 2, is told exclusively through examples from the superlative collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.

When the Albright-Knox Art Gallery made the decision to tour masterworks from their collection, it made obvious sense—given Still’s deep involvement with that institution—for the Clyfford Still Museum (CSM) to get involved. DAM and CSM had been looking for new opportunities for collaboration and to explore a joint-ticketing arrangement, so this exhibition has launched that occasion as well.

Given the richness of CSM’s collections, we knew it would be possible (and hopefully enlightening) to recreate key exhibitions in Still’s career, so in conjunction with Modern Masters we are recreating Still’s seminal one-person exhibition at the Albright-Knox. 1959: The Albright-Knox Art Gallery Exhibition Recreated, on view February 14-June 15, was important for a number of reasons. It was among the largest of Still’s career and the first exhibition since he effectively broke ties with the art world in 1951. Included among the 72 paintings in that exhibition were then-little-known works made during the 1930s as well as major paintings made in New York (but never shown) during the 1950s, such as PH-48 included in Modern Masters. This exhibition bolstered Still’s relationship with the Albright-Knox, which culminated in Still’s gift of 31 paintings to that institution in 1964.They presented another Still exhibition in 1966, this time celebrating the works included in the gift.

The CSM exhibition will include selections from the original exhibition that are now in the Clyfford Still Museum collection along with materials from the Clyfford Still Museum Archives. Extensive exhibition enhancements also will be featured in CSM's Boettcher Foundation Education Gallery, including an audio recording of Still reading his catalog introduction to the 1959 exhibition and an interactive that allows visitors to walk “virtually” through the original Albright installation. A new “story viewer” (our short video segments accessible in the museum) has also been produced for this exhibition.

It’s worth noting that virtually every important artist associated with abstract expressionism—Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, and Still himself—is represented by a major masterpiece in the Modern Masters exhibition, thus providing an unparalleled context for the art of Clyfford Still.

Your Modern Masters ticket includes admission to the Clyfford Still Museum, through June 15, 2014. Same-day attendance is not required, but you will need your ticket. For more information about 1959, visit

Image credit: Archival photo of Still’s exhibition in 1959. © Clyfford Still Museum Archives.

Dean Sobel is the director of the Clyfford Still Museum.