Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Golden Fleece

Angelika flew out to join me for a few days around Thanksgiving, and with her came wintery, snowy weather infused with wonderful holiday atmosphere. The weather prior to her arrival had been in the '60s and 70's which is nice, but I was ready to feel the impending holiday season.

The plaza outside of the Denver Art Museum.

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we headed down to the Denver Art Museum. It was her first time to see the new Hamilton building. Currently on view at DAM is an exhibit of Color field painting, and an exhibit of objects from the Louvre called Artisans and Kings which required an additional special admission ticket of $8 over the $10 museum admission. Our friend John had an allotment of additional tickets to the exhibit so we didn't have to pay which was fortunate, because that would have been a horrendous waste of money had we had to shell it out ourselves. I have no problem paying an additional amount for a special exhibit at a museum, and I can appreciate the circumstances behind bringing a truly special exhibit to a venue. However, charging a premium for this exhibit is an extraordinarily cynical manuever on the part of the museum; throw the Louvre's lable on an exhibit, and the yoekels won't care what they're seeing. Hell, it's from the Louvre. Dig some crap out of the closet ship it to the new world and hold a glorified antiques road show in a $90.5M home? for contemporary art. The majority of the exhibit consists of well crafted over-the-top tacky decorative objects that had been personal possessions of of Louis and Marie Antoinette. As Angelika said, the history behind the objects is far more interesting than the actual objects. We were far more interested in the drawings included in two small galleries downstairs. Two small galleries. Sort of slim pickings to warrant an additional charge, and time stamped tickets. There's an uninspiring Titian painting, and a Velasquez portrait of La Infanta Margarita, the distinction of which, as promoted by the Museum, is that it was kept in Louis XIV's mother's bathing chamber.

How enlightening.

The additon of small oak curbs on the museum floors helps prevent folks from bruising their heads on the angle walls.

I guess I hope that the scheme to charge an extra premium was planned from the beginning, and it didn't arise as a strategy to make up for any shortfall in revenue given that this year's attendance numbers fell far short of projections, particularly as staff levels were drastically cut after the opening of the new wing.

It's an ok show-of decorative work, with some wonderful drawings, but there's no way in it warrants time specific tickets......

The Hamilton building's best interior attribute; the staircase.

The upside of Artisans and Kings being shown in the Anshutz Gallery is that Color as Field exhibit benefits by being seen in a gallery that does not detract from the work on display. This is a beautiful exhibit with many powerful paintings including a stunning, large ochre Motherwell, (the title of which I forget) some great Olitski's among many others. The Color as field exhibit is more than worth its price of admission. As this exhibit is tucked away in the main floor gallery in the North building, three or four paintings from the show are actually on display back in the Hamilton building, in order to draw traffic across the bridge to see the rest. Unfortunatly, these paintings play the role of sacrificial virgins which fare poorly at the hands of the killers of the sublime that are the Hamilton's galleries. Color as Field is on exhibit through Feb 3 and is worth a visit.

MCA's rooftop walkway as seen from below.

After leaving the valley of the DAMned we feasted on bison burgers in Larimer Square and then off to the newly opened but not quite finished MCA . The new building designed by David Adjaye sported unpainted joint compound patches on the walls and unpainted grinded down welds on the metal handrails above the atrium. The building provides a maze-like unfolding as you move from gallery to and floor to floor. The current offering is the inaugural exhibit "Star Power: Museum as Body Electric", featuring the work of seven artists from seven countries.

MCA's cafeteria

Before I was politely busted for taking photos in the rooftop museum's cafeteria I did manage to snap a few shots. I look forward to returning to this space in the future. The scale of the building is such that provides succinct a dose of contemporary art with out being overwhelmed right in the heart of LoDo.
From the MCA, we stopped into the Tattered Cover for hot beverages and extendsive magazine perusal. And I bought a book.

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