An evening of art appreciation |

An evening of art appreciation

Daily Staff ReportVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

Abstract Expressionism, the first American art movement to garner international attention following the Second World War, will take the stage and screen when the Vail Symposium hosts its summer art dinner on Thursday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. at Vista at Arrowhead.

In addition to learning about the finer points of abstract expressionism as conveyed through the work of one of its founders, Clyfford Still, diners will also have the opportunity to browse an eclectic art auction. Showcasing some of the Valley’s finest artists, this auction will serve as a fundraiser for the Vail Symposium, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is almost entirely donor-funded.

Led by a group of American artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Clyfford Still, Abstract Expressionism brought the center of the art world from Paris to New York. These artists are united by their use of abstract forms, expressive brushwork, and monumental scale.

Like many modern movements, Abstract Expressionism describes a general attitude, linked together by individuality, spontaneity, and morality, rather than the themes of social realism and regional life from previous decades of American art. Universal themes of creation, life, chaos and death took on considerable relevance during the post-war period.For this richly illustrated lecture, Dean Sobel, director of the Clyfford Still Museum, will not only introduce why Abstract Expressionism is often heralded as the “triumph” of American art, but also how after 40 years of searching, Still’s heirs chose Denver as the home for nearly 2,500 of the important artist’s work. The museum is scheduled to open adjacent to the Denver Art Museum in 2009. This lecture will also reveal how Still, though lesser known than many of his contemporaries, was perhaps Abstract Expressionism’s greatest innovator. Described by many of the most anti-traditional of the Abstract Expressionists, Still is credited with laying the groundwork for the movement. His relative obscurity in the public’s awareness was due to his own stipulations on how his work could be displayed. Following his death in 1980, all works not already in the public domain were sealed off – until now.Appointed as project director of the Clyfford Still Museum by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in 2005, Dean Sobel is an apt ambassador to the public from the world of Abstract Expressionism. Sobel was former director of the Aspen Art Museum and chief curator of the Milwaukee Art Museum. He has also written extensively on post World War II American Art. Sobel has authored several books on art. The Vail Symposium’s Abstract Expressionism Art Dinner and Auction will be held on Thursday, Aug. 16 at Vista at Arrowhead. Space is limited, and reservations are required. Tickets to the Art Dinner and Auction are $85 for Vail Symposium contributors and $105 for all others. Please call 476-0954 or purchase your tickets online at The auction is accessible to the public at through Aug. 16.

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