The Denver Art Museum has some new competition, the about-to-open Clyfford Still Museum right next door. The two museum buildings could not be more different. The Liebskind addition to the DAM is wildly exuberant. The restrained Still Museum is mature and settled.
Designed by Brad Cloepfil, principal of Allied Works Architecture of Portland, Oregon, the new museum underwhelms where the Libeskind addition dominates. The Still building itself is beautiful in the way that Lauren Bacall is beautiful--simple, elegant, and gracious. And she needs to be gracious with Lady Gaga sitting next to her. I love both women and both museums, for very different reasons, and it is remarkable to see them next to each other. Where Liebskind's building focuses on the architecture, Cloepfil's defers to the art. It is a simple box (modernist revival?), but that is what the program calls for for most art museums. In the Libeskind building, you can't escape from the architecture--it looms and threatens to capsize. In Coepfil's building, it is the art that is outrageous. Lady Gaga might be a lot of fun, but Lauren Bacall is the better bet for the long haul, as Humphrey Bogart certainly understood.
The Denver Post has a few articles. (Photo credit to them, too). There will be many more once the museum opens tomorrow.