Dave Yūst—Evidence of Gravity & Other Works

June 21–October 1, 2023

Member Preview Day: Tuesday, June 20, 3-7pm (New time with evening hours!)

Exhibition co-curated by Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant and Deputy Curator Christopher Herron

Kirkland Museum is proud to present the work of Dave Yūst, a longtime Colorado artist and educator based in Fort Collins, as part of our 20th anniversary celebration. This exhibition combines examples of Dave Yῡst’s paintings, prints and posters in Kirkland Museum’s permanent collection of Colorado & regional art with an exhibition organized by the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas, featuring the artist’s most recent work.

Read Westword’s Review:

The Kirkland Explores Dave Yūst’s Art and Process in Evidence of Gravity and Other Works

“It is my hope that you will find one or two paintings here that will be uplifting to your soul.”
Dave Yῡst
Dave Yust exhibition view

Retrospective of Earlier Paintings by Dave Yῡst

The first seven paintings in the exhibition, completed between 1967 and 1988, are all part of Kirkland Museum’s permanent collection. Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant believes Yῡst is one of the most important abstract painters in Colorado and the regional states, and has acquired work going back to the mid-1960s.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Dave Yῡst utilized his background studies in aeronautical engineering and architecture to construct shaped stretchers for his paintings. Sketches and preliminary drawings led to precise scale drawings for the framework, which often included hundreds of individual pieces of wood—each cut, fitted and glued in place. This technique provided the necessary strength to hold the canvas in the desired shape.


Black and white circular abstract painting

Circular Composition #44 (Change in Scale #28), 1972, by Dave Yῡst, acrylic on 3-dimensional canvas, 48 inch diameter, Collection Kirkland Museum.

Recent Paintings with Catenary Curves

Chromaxiologic · Inclusion w/ 6 catenary curves and 1 free hand tangent curve #3/16, 2016, by Dave Yῡst, acrylic on canvas on 27-piece elliptically-shaped Baltic birch plywood and laminated wood frame, 40 1/2 x 63 1/8 inches.


A catenary curve is the curve that a hanging chain or cable assumes under its own weight when supported only at the ends. Direct evidence of gravity!

Yῡst’s recent works were exhibited this spring at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, KS. There are catenary curves in all of them, often to explore and separate areas of color.

Yῡst’s early work contained curves based on circles. In 2000, he saw the use of catenary curves in the work of architect Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain, and was inspired to incorporate them into his paintings. He first experimented with hanging string in front of the canvas to trace the curves. He later moved to the use of metal ball chains purchased from the hardware store.

Dave Yῡst is also a Printmaker

The graphic nature of many of his early works, with their hard lines and use of bold colors, makes it a natural fit for serigraphs—silkscreen prints where each color is layered on using a different screen. Turning to monotypes—one-of-a-kind prints—enabled him to be more expressive in his explorations of color.

In addition, posters, showing various historic works, document some of the museums and galleries in which Yῡst has had exhibitions.

The works displayed in the Ceramics Corridor are from Kirkland Museum’s permanent collection and demonstrate how Yūst’s print work paralleled his painting throughout his career.

print of a black and white circular artwork on gray

Change in Scale #10, #25 Round, 1971, by Dave Yῡst, 2-screen serigraph, 7” diameter. Yūst’s first print. Collection Kirkland Museum, from the Estate of Vance Kirkland.

Meet Dave Yῡst

A white-haired man wearing purple holds a chain up to an abstract painting to demonstrate a catenary curve in the work.

Dave Yῡst, in his studio demonstrating a catenary curve. Photo by Glenn Cuerden.

Dave Yῡst explores geometry in his work, in both the shapes of his canvases and the shapes he paints. He enjoys exploring the tension between precise geometric curves and free-flowing, expressive areas of paint. 

Dave Yῡst was born in 1939 in Wichita, Kansas, and began his academic career studying aeronautical engineering and architecture at Wichita State University and Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Art ultimately prevailed: even before his college courses, Yῡst briefly studied art with the renowned Birger Sandzén in Kansas for a summer in 1951. Yῡst received his BFA from the University of Kansas in 1963 and moved to Colorado that same year. He then completed an MFA at the University of Oregon in 1969. He taught art at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, for 47 years beginning in 1965. Yῡst gained recognition and awards as an educator and his work is exhibited widely in Colorado and across the United States.

Thank you to Dave & Joan Yst and to Curator Cori Sherman North & Director Ron Michael at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery for their help in developing this exhibition.

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