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.
This eye-catching sofa is Studio65’s best known design and gained its inspiration from Salvador Dalí’s Mae West’s Face which May be Used as a Surrealist Apartment, 1934–1935, and was created as a tribute to Salvador Dalí.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
Fun fact: This lamp originally belonged to Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant’s parents. The Grants also owned the Parisi Nesting Tables below!
Husband and wife Ico & Luisa Parisi worked collaboratively on many projects and much of their work is stamped with both of their names.
Learn more about the Parisi Nesting Tables that are always featured on our website in our collection highlights:
Fun fact: Luisa Parisi was a student of Gio Ponti!
Paintings by Colorado Artists
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:
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This virtual exhibition was researched, assembled and designed by:
Christopher Herron, Deputy Curator
Becca Goodrum, Collections Manager
Maya Wright, Director of Interpretation
Megan Sullivan, Education & Volunteer Services Manager