The Denver Art Museum is on a roll. The institution has been staging one stellar exhibit after another. On the stiletto heels of the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit (shown only in Paris, Madrid and… Denver) to Madeleine Albright’s unusual collection of pins commemorating her diplomatic career, the DAM now brings to Colorado “Becoming Van Gogh,” the first major display of his work in the Rocky Mountain region.
Seven years in the making, this exhibit traces the artist’s career from his modest beginnings as a Dutch Masters wannabe in the style of Rembrandt to his discovery and use of color. Many viewers will be surprised by the relative absence of the riotous, swirling brush strokes of Van Gogh’s more famous “Starry Night” period. Instead the exhibit focuses on the early Vincent — landscapes and peasant scenes in browns, grays and muddy hues. As viewers proceed, they will be able to observe how Van Gogh’s skills and perspective evolved.
Curators Timothy Standring and Louis van Tilborgh were cognizant of the range of viewers this exhibit would attract. So they structured it to appeal to both the average museum-goer and the art history afficionado who prefer to focus on the more esoteric and obscure roots of Van Gogh’s evolution.
The exhibit is composed of 90 paintings donated by more than 60 lending institutions from around the world. “Becoming Van Gogh” is a DAM exclusive. Standring put it succinctly. “The world is gobsmacked that Denver got this exhibit.”
As such it is bound to attract many out-of-town visitors. Christoph Heinrich, DAM director, said that for prior exhibits of this caliber, 40 percent of the museum-goers came from outside Denver. Capitalizing on this, Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, has teamed up with about 11 hotels in the area to create packages and promotions around the exhibit. (www. vangoghdenver.com). Style Matters heard that tix are already going fast.
State Senator Pat Steadman, looking quite natty in a tuxedo and bow tie, attracted more than just Style Matters’ attention. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made sure to point out to the crowd that Sen. Steadman is a member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee. Friend Enedina Andrews is wearing a lovely red burnt velvet top.
At the news conference announcing the show, Deputy Mayor Cary Kennedy summarized the importance of these blockbuster exhbitions. “Becoming Van Gogh keeps the DAM in the forefront of the art world,” she said. And it’s one more “get” that will help make Denver a world class city.”
Judie Schwartz, whose Style Matters columns appear in The Colorado Statesman, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents seminars on the importance of a professional image, shopping tips and fashion trends. She can be reached at:
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