Art in Small Bytes

While social distancing at home, we are all hungry for glimpses of normalcy and things we miss from our previous experiences. We are spending more time with digital bytes of data to connect and learn virtually.

In computers, a “byte” is a unit of data made of eight zeros and ones that represents a character such as a letter or number. As in the computer world of bits and bytes, Kirkland Museum groups smaller pieces together to create a larger, unified whole.

For this virtual exhibition, we broke down a vignette grouping of period objects or artworks in the Museum into smaller pieces. We invite you to take a deep dive and “byte” into the Italian Modern vignette from Modern Gallery 7, pictured here. Double click on the image to see a larger version, then scroll down to byte into it and learn more about each individual piece.

The Museum’s Modern Gallery 7 is anchored by three vignettes highlighting American, Scandinavian and Italian Modern design. Why does Italy get a section of its own? Because Italy, along with the United States and Scandinavia, is one of the “powerhouses” of Modern design, according to Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant.

The flowering of Modern design and architecture seems more concentrated in Scandinavia, Italy and America, which is why it was so exciting for me to compare these three together in one gallery.”

Hugh Grant

Pucker Up!

This eye-catching sofa is Studio65’s best known design and gained its inspiration from Salvador Dalí’s The Face of Mae West which may be used as a Surrealist Apartment, 1934–1935, and was created as a tribute to Salvador Dalí.

Bocca Sofa designed by Studio65
Bocca Sofa
1970
designed by Studio65 (1965–present)
manufactured by Gufram

The phone was a gift from two artists whose paintings hang just above! After seeing the Museum’s new acquisition, the Bocca Sofa in 2017, the Felix’s knew they had the perfect accessory to go with it, the Hot Lips phone. Learn more about artists Tracy & Sushe Felix below.

Hots Lips Phone
Hot Lips Telephone (Model 410R-TF)
1983
designed and manufactured by TeleQuest (1983–1990)
Gift of Tracy & Sushe Felix

Gio Ponti Furniture

These three pieces of furniture in the vignette were designed by architect Gio Ponti who also designed the Denver Art Museum’s 1971 building in collaboration with James Sudler. The building is set to reopen this year after extensive renovation!

Gio Ponti Superleggera Chair
Superleggera Chair (Model 699)
1957
designed by Gio Ponti (1891–1979)
manufactured by Cassina

Superleggera means “beyond light” and the chair only weighs 3.10 pounds! Advertisements showed how it could be easily lifted with one finger.

Learn more about the Superleggera Chair, always featured on our website in our collection highlights:

Gio Ponti Coffee Table
Coffee Table
1950s
designed by Gio Ponti (1891–1979)
manufactured by M. Singer & Sons

When Gio Ponti came to Denver for the opening of his Denver Art Museum building in 1971, he met Kirkland Museum namesake Vance Kirkland and they became friends.

Gio Ponti Lounge Table
Lounge Table
c. 1964
designed by Gio Ponti (1891–1979)

In addition to furniture, Kirkland Museum has a wide variety of Gio Ponti-designed objects in the collection including tableware, ceramics and poster graphics. This prolific designer’s work is always on view.

Modern Italian design is known for its often vivid colors, flamboyant, sculptural shapes and imaginative uses of materials"

Hugh Grant

Let there be Light!

The angle of the Pillola Lamps can be adjusted to suggest the haphazard nature of spilled pills. The lamps are shown here illuminated so you can see how great they look when turned on. They are turned off in the vignette photograph above.

Pillola Lamps (lit) designed by Cesare Casati
Pillola Lamps
1968
designed by Cesare Casati (b. 1936) & C. Emanuele Ponzio (1923–2015)
manufactured by Nai Ponteur

Fun fact: This lamp originally belonged to Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant’s parents. The Grants also owned the Parisi Nesting Tables below!

Sculpture Lamp by Tempestini
Sculpture Lamp
1953
designed by Maurizio Tempestini (1908–1960),
manufactured by Lightolier

Parisi Furniture

Husband and wife Ico & Luisa Parisi worked collaboratively on many projects and much of their work is stamped with both of their names.

Parisi Nesting Tables pixelated
Nesting Tables
1951
designed by Ico & Luisa Parisi (1916–1996) (1914–1990)
manufactured by M. Singer & Sons

Learn more about the Parisi Nesting Tables that are always featured on our website in our collection highlights:

Armchair from Casa Cesare Casati
Armchair from Casa Cesare Larini, Como
1950
designed by Ico & Luisa Parisi (1916–1996) (1914–1990)

Fun fact: Luisa Parisi was a student of Gio Ponti!

Paintings by Colorado Artists

The paintings in the Modern Gallery are Referential Abstraction by Colorado artists because that was a predominant style at the time, along with Pure Abstraction which I display in the adjacent gallery with additional Modern and also Postmodern design."

Hugh Grant
Canyon Cloudshow by Tracy Felix
Canyon Cloudshow
2017
by Tracy Felix (b. 1957)
Gift of Tracy & Sushe Felix

Tracy & Sushe Felix painted their respective works in this vignette specifically for the new Kirkland Museum building in 2017.

Tracy will sometimes work from a reference for his landscapes or he will make them up.

Learn more about Tracy Felix, always featured on our website in our collection highlights:

The Passage of Time by Sushe Felix
The Passage of Time
2017
by Sushe Felix (b. 1958)
Gift of Tracy & Sushe Felix

Sushe prefers to make her scenes up most of the time, from her memories of a place or many places put together.

Learn more about Sushe Felix, always featured on our website in our collection highlights:

Fantasy Forest by William Sanderson
Fantasy Forest
c. 1985
by William Sanderson (1905–1990)

William Sanderson was hired by Vance Kirkland in 1946 to teach advertising design at the University of Denver School of Art, and taught there for 26 years.

The Cat Won’t Talk by James Mills
The Cat Won’t Talk
undated
by James Mills (1924–2001)

James Mills served in the Army during WWII and received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in the Battle of the Bulge. He later wrote as an art critic for The Denver Post.

Three paintings by Trine Bumiller
From Top to Bottom: 1966, 1952 and 2012,
painted in 2015
by Trine Bumiller (b. 1959)

Each of these paintings are named after a year of Rocky Mountain National Park’s existence. Trine Bumiller completed 100 paintings for the park’s 100th birthday!

Marecak Rug

Edward Marecak is better known as a painter and printmaker, but he also made hooked rugs, screen printed textiles and made ceramics with his wife Donna, also an accomplished artist in Kirkland Museum’s collection.

Marecak rug in Italian Modern
Hooked Rug
c. 1965
by Edward Marecak (1919–1993)

About this style of display

Kirkland Museum is distinguished by the salon style of display adopted by Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant, who assembled these pieces for the collection and chose their placement in Modern Gallery 7. 

Salon style means fine art (painting and sculpture) and decorative art (made to be used) are shown together in the same gallery, as if it was a home.  This display method is rarely done, but can be seen in the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and somewhat at the Neue Galerie in New York.

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