Some of the public collections of Denver, Colorado, are featured in this, the millennium's final installation of Twentieth Century American Sculpture in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. The renaissance of public art in Denver has been largely motivated by our three-term mayor, Wellington E. Webb, and his wife, Wilma. During the mayor's tenure, the city has commissioned a number of large public art projects, and the Denver Art Museum has acquired a number of major works to enliven the grounds of the Civic Center Cultural Complex. We have been fortunate to be able to round out our selection with works drawn from the collection of the Ginny Williams Family Foundation and the Museum of Outdoor Arts. The ensemble gives a rich cross section of some of the major trends that have shaped twentieth-century American sculpture.
We selected The View from Denver as our theme for this exhibition because we wanted our choices to reflect where and who we are and where we look to mine the artistic wealth that enhances our community. Living as we do, almost in the center of the country with the nearest city of equal or greater size over eight hundred miles away, the view from Denver is vast and inspires us to look in every direction to acquire our works of art. Closest to home, Denver artist Robert Mangold created the whimsical Windsong III, a sculpture that catches the intense Denver winds, sometimes spinning so fast its polychrome funnels become a blur. Deborah Butterfield lives north of us, in Montana, and Willy, Argus, and Lucky, the three bronze horses we commissioned from her, symbolize for some the very essence of life in this part of the country. Living south of us in New Mexico is Hopi artist Preston Duwyenie, whose Cloud Stone reinterprets a myth of his tribe depicting the union of Mother Earth and Father Sky. A look west to the San Francisco Bay Area connects us to the long tradition of figurative work exemplified in Manuel Neri's untitled work. While living in New York, Los Angeles-born Isamu Noguchi created Remembrance out of wood in 1945 as a stage set for one of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham's performances. Later cast in bronze, its sensuous forms contrast sharply to Icarus, an early, exquisitely emotional work by Chicago resident and internationally acclaimed artist Richard Hunt. Looking east beyond Chicago brings us to the kinetic sculptural forms invented by George Rickey and Harry Bertoia. Other artists who live in or around New York and who have also helped shape the international dialogue surrounding twentieth-century sculpture include Louise Bourgeois, Ellsworth Kelly, Claes Oldenburg, and Isaac Witkin. All of these artists have enhanced the view from Denver, and we are pleased to be able to share their works with our fellow citizens.
In closing, I would like to thank First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for her continuing interest in public art and for her support of these White House installations. I would like to acknowledge the support of Betty Monkman of the White House staff and to thank Michael Johnson of the Denver Art Museum for his intelligent oversight of the project. I am also grateful to the three curators of this installation: Cynthia Madden Leitner of the Museum of Outdoor Arts, Dianne Perry Vanderlip of the Denver Art Museum, and Ginny Williams.
Lewis I. Sharp
The Denver Art Museum
Untitled (EK 680)
Willy, Argus, and Lucky
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