Denver can sell works from Still estate

Clyfford Still in his studio, 1973? Clyfford Still in his studio, 1973? Photo: Sandra Still Campbell?, © Estate of Clyfford Still

A Maryland circuit court has ruled that the estate of Patricia Still, the late wife of abstract expressionist artist Clyfford Still, can release four paintings to the city of Denver before they are formally acquired by a new museum dedicate to the artist set to open this year. This will allow the city to sell the works, potentially raising an estimated $25m for the museum, although this must be set aside for the endowment and collections-related expenses, according to the court’s decision.

The Patricia Still Estate donated 400 works to Denver in 2005 following a gift the year before of 2,000 works from the Clyfford Still Estate: roughly 96% of the abstract expressionist’s work. The gifts came with the condition that Denver build a museum by 2014 to house them. Clyfford Still was a garrulous figure who publicly and aggressively sparred with the art world establishment while he was alive, and so the collections unsurprisingly came with further strings attached: Patricia Still prohibited the display of other artists’ works besides her late husband’s, banned the loan of any of Still’s works and insisted that no cafe or auditorium be allowed on the museum’s future campus.

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