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.
In September 2018, the Herbert Bayer Archive was transferred to the Denver Public Library. It is now available seven days a week in the Western History and Genealogy Department at the Central Library. To arrange for access to the Bayer Archive while the collection finding aid is being updated, please contact the Western History and Genealogy Department either by phone, 720-865-1821, or email.
During the Martin Building renovation project, the modern and contemporary art galleries are closed. Please view select pieces from the Denver Art Museum’s modern and contemporary art collection in these exhibitions currently on view:
- See the Eyes On exhibition overview page for the latest information on the multi-year contemporary art series.
EXPLORE THE COLLECTION ONLINE: Browse artworks from the modern and contemporary art collection anytime. Check back often for additions and updates.
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 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.
The Bayer Collection and Archive is closed because of the museum’s Martin Building renovation project. We regret that we are unable to access this collection at this time.
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.
Join a docent for a 30-minute, in-depth look at an aspect of the museum’s collections or something special happening in the galleries. More
Often dubbed “the surrealist sculptor par excellence,” Cuban artist Agustín Cárdenas (1927-2001) participated in the surrealist group’s activities, most notably their international exhibitions, both in Paris and abroad during the postwar period.
Having enjoyed early recognition in Cuba before relocating to the French capital in 1955, Cárdenas’s five-decade career gained momentum at a moment when the surrealist movement was waning, however. More
Join artist Anna Kaye in our fun and informal creative art sessions. Bring a drawing or sketching project of your own or get started on something new. More
Internationally renowned artist Michele Oka Doner works across media including works on paper, sculpture, design, costume, site-specific installations, and public art.
Oka Doner is perhaps most well-known for her design acumen as she creates functional objects such as candelabras and tableware that allude to organic forms—from elements of nature to the human body.
Spanning five decades, Oka Doner’s creative output demonstrates her lifelong appreciation for the natural world and her ability to integrate notions of function with beauty.
Doors open at 5:30 pm. More
Senga Nengudi is one of the most celebrated artists working in installation and performance art since the 1960s.
Often incorporating found materials, Nengudi’s work explores notions of race, ethnicity, culture, and gender identity.
Based in Colorado Springs for more than thirty years, Nengudi creates video and music expanding upon her conceptual work by incorporating ritual dance and further engaging the cross-cultural dialogue central to her practice.
Doors open at 5:30 pm. More
Journey along the circuit of balconies, landings, and stairs within the atrium of the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building to discover the fifteen digital artworks that make up Phantom Canyon: A Digital Circuit. More
Experiment with watercolors, paint a portrait, or create your own abstract masterpiece. On the weekends from noon to 3 pm see demonstrations by local artists. More
The Light Show at the Denver Art Museum explores physical and symbolic representations of light in art through a thought-provoking narrative. The exhibition features about 250 objects drawn from the DAM’s nine curatorial departments. The Light Show focuses on the quest by humanity and artists to understand physical light in the natural world as well as metaphorical, spiritual, and divine representations of light. More
News & Stories
Like many artists before her, Jordan Casteel is drawn to Harlem's vibrant street life and arts scene. Casteel's early paintings depicted black men and their relationships with one another. Later, the people and streets of Harlem became the subject of her work. As the artist shifted her gaze to her community at large, a focus on locally owned businesses emerged—the Ethiopian restaurant that she frequents, a shop owned by an acquaintance—which led to more frequent representations of women. More
On Saturday, February 23, artists, scholars, and curators will meet at the Denver Art Museum for a symposium on Who Owns Culture? Appropriation & Appreciation in the Global Art World. As a global art museum with artworks from many cultures around the world, the DAM is proud to contribute to this complex and ongoing discussion. More
Conceptual artist Devon Dikeou spoke at the Denver Art Museum as part of the Logan Lecture series, Artists on Art: From Any Angle. She used the evening as an opportunity to consider a quote by John Baldessari: “Instead of looking at things, look between things.” More
Artist Shantell Martin gives life advice and talks about contemporary art during her 2018 Logan Lecture at the Denver Art Museum. More
Chinese-American artist Xiaoze Xie talks about China, media censorship, and banned books during his Logan Lecture. Visit Eyes On: Xiaoze Xie through July 8, 2018. More
The Denver Art Museum recently announced that three curators joined the museum. Below is a brief introduction. Stay tuned for more information and opportunities to get to know them and their growing art collections.
Tianlong Jiao, Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art More
Unless otherwise noted, all publications were published by the Denver Art Museum. Many of the titles are available to purchase in the Shop.
- Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place/artistas contemporáneos exploran el concepto de lugar. Rebecca S. Hart. Denver Art Museum, 2017.
- 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.
- Rebecca R. Hart, Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
- Julie Augur, Adjunct Curator, Drawings
- Caitlin Swindell, Curatorial Assistant
- Laura Almeida, Curatorial Fellow
- Danielle St. Peter, Interpretive Specialist
- Jennifer Miklosi, Contemporary Alliance Manager
- Shannon Corrigan, Curatorial Assistant 2019
- Kaitlin Maestas, Curatorial Assistant 2015-2017
- Hugh Grant, Adjunct Curator, Kirkland Collection
- Gwen F. Chanzit, PhD, Curator Emerita of Modern Art and the Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive 1980-2016
- 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