Help others:

Donate to the Red Cross

Donate to the Salvation Army

Listing sponsored by
Scientific Breakthrough. No Shots
Science response to skin aging.

Vance Kirkland Studio Museum

1311 Pearl Street
Denver, Colorado

Phone: 303 832 8576 --

Statement of Purpose:

Decorative arts museum and archives for Vance Kirkland, 20th century American paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints; permanent collection of modern American dinnerware and furniture, 1930-70.

Highlights & Collections:


Vance Kirkland Studio & Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1996 primarily to promote the career of the late Vance Kirkland (1904-1981) because of his increasing importance nationally and internationally. To that end, we locate, document, preserve, photograph, maintain, exhibit and acquire Kirkland's paintings. Kirkland is considered Colorado's pre-eminent painter whose career spanned over 50 years and 5 separate styles (Realism, Surrealism, Abstractionism, Abstract Expressionism and his unique "Dot" paintings). In addition to his own painting Kirkland was an arts educator (founding Director of the University of Denver School of Art, 1927) and active promoter of the arts, particularly 20th century art, music, and decorative arts. In this spirit, the Foundation also preserves, collects and promotes the work of other 20th Century artists including: Otto Bach, Harry Bertoia, Edgar Britton, Charles & Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, Archibald Knox, Raymond Loewy, Isamu Noguchi, Verner Panton, Warren Platner, George Rickey, Eva Stricker-Zeisel, Artus Van Briggel, Hans Wegner, Edward Wormley, Russel Wright and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The collection is housed in the historic building, which was formerly Kirkland's studio. Built in 1910 as an art school for Henry Read (designer of the Denver City Seal), the Studio is the oldest known commercial art building in Colorado. In May 1998, ground was broken on a much needed 8,000 sq. ft. building expansion that will be connected to the 3,000 sq. ft. studio and will increase exhibition, office and storage space. The new addition was completed about October 1999 when renovation began on the older studio building. All construction and renovation is scheduled to be finished in May 2000. The Foundation is located at 1311 Pearl Street, seven blocks east of the Denver Art Museum and four blocks east of the State Capitol.

Mr. Hugh Grant is the full-time curator of the collection, executor of the Kirkland estate and Adjunct Curator of the Kirkland Collection at the Denver Art Museum.

Currently there are over 100 Kirkland paintings touring throughout Europe. We will conclude the European tour on February 25, 2000, at The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia - where Kirkland is featured as the 1st American Solo Artist Exhibition. When the paintings return to the United States, we will begin preparation for an American tour celebrating Kirkland's 100th birthday in 2004.

Vance Kirkland Foundation is an operating foundation, not a grant giving foundation.

Vance Kirkland's Paintings Divided by 5 Major Periods and 20 Sub Series


II. SURREALIST (1939-1954)

III. ABSTRACTIONS FROM NATURE (1947-1957) (hard edge abstraction)

(Including the Timberline Abstraction series)

IV. FLOATING ABSTRACTIONS (1951-1964) (Abstract Expressionism)

(4 Series: Nebulae, Roman, Asian and Pure Abstractions, using water and oil techniques as the final layer.)


(5 Series: Energy of Vibrations, Mysteries, Explosions, and Forces, and Pure Abstractions.)

Vance Kirkland (American 1904-81): of his approximately 1,100 paintings, during a 54 year career (1927-81), almost exactly half are water color (1927-53; aquarelle, gouache, casein, egg tempera), and a few oils as well. In the latter half (1953-81) oil, and his oil & water mixtures are used. Coincidentally, one can see from the above dates, that Kirkland produced watercolors for exactly half of his chronological career, and oils the other half (and 6 acrylics). Kirkland also did about 500 drawings (predominantly litho crayon but also pencil, ink, ball point pen and charcoal--notably not using water color for drawings, but only for full fledged paintings. He also created about 12 print editions (mostly black and white lithographs on stone, 1930-41), and mural commissions for U.S. Post Offices, the Denver Country Club, department stores, ceilings for mansions, etc. (1936-45).

I. DESIGNED REALISM (1927-1944) (and a few, later, isolated paintings to about 1947)

(1) Early Water Color and Oil Paintings (1927-1937): Used smaller paper (15"x20" and 19"x25"); early subject matter treated in more detail than later.

(2) Mid Water Color and Oil Paintings (1938-1944): Generally used larger paper (mostly 22"x30" and 26"x40"); subject matter treated more expansively and liberally, with even stronger color, and design becoming more important than subject. Favorite subjects which almost become series are: overall landscapes, close-ups, rocks, deadwood, clouds and mountains, ghost towns and ruins.

II. (3) SURREALIST (1939-1954)

Later Water Color Paintings (mostly aquarelle and gouache, some casein, egg tempera and oil); Fantasy worlds with deadwood come to life as creatures, strange flowers and plants, and miniature people dwarfed by nature. [Kirkland was included in the great culminating exhibition of surrealism at The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947-8, "Abstract and Surrealist American Art".]

III. A. (4) ABSTRACTIONS FROM NATURE (1947-1957) (hard edge abstraction)

(about half water color, half oil, a few with water color and denatured alcohol resist techniques and a few with oil and water resist techniques like period IV; curving and straight lines and segmented colors used to abstract natural subjects)

(5) TIMBERLINE ABSTRACTIONS (1950-57) are distinctive and numerous enough to be separately noted as a series. [Kirkland used line, color and texture to suggest leaf, deadwood and rock shapes, and even wood graining, out of the Rocky Mountains at timberline altitude. He generally abstracted these forms with straight lines suggesting rays of sunlight or moonlight and straight, leaning and fallen trees and branches.]

B. (6) PURE ABSTRACTIONS (Non-Objective) (1951-1957) (done simultaneously with this and all following periods; lines and segmented colors also used, typical of this period, but no obvious reference to any subject: "Inventions in Color", of 1952. Kirkland also wanted viewers to have the option to see paintings in this period as pure abstractions, regardless of their titles.)

IV. FLOATING ABSTRACTIONS (1951-1964) (Abstract Expressionism)

[mostly floating oil and water resist techniques as the final layer (1953-64); also at least 5 oil and turpentine paintings of 1951 (nos. 5, 10, 11, 12 and 24); at least 2 watercolors from 1952 (no. 3 and 13) and 5 from 1953 using a resist technique of water color and denatured alcohol, and 14 works on paper from 1962 using variously oil, water, inkwash, denatured alcohol, silver and bronze; four main series]

A. (7) NEBULAE ABSTRACTIONS (1954-1962) [generally bright colors; appear to be expanding, swirling and exploding; in 1958 came the first of Kirkland's large canvases--67"x140", "Space Mysteries"; space titles started as early as 1954: "Space Existencies", "Mysteries in Orange Space"]

B. (8) ROMAN ABSTRACTIONS (1955-1957, 1960-61) [generally earth colors of brown, green, rust, etc., sometimes against a Pompeian red; great subtlety of color and intricacy of pattern; mostly painted in Italy with Italian titles; forms are contained within the canvas, and do not appear to be expanding off the canvas as in the Nebulae Abstractions.]

C. (9) ASIAN ABSTRACTIONS (1961-1964) [mostly Burma, India and Cambodia; generally with layers of color to suggest the gold and underlying orange of temples; orange, saffron, and pink of monk's robes; black lacquer; browns of eroding bronzes; white and black mold; the black shadows of jungle vegetation; colors of dyed fabrics in India abstractions. Like the Roman Abstractions, patterns are more static and earthbound than Nebulae, but the forms are equally strong.]

D. (10) PURE ABSTRACTIONS (1953-64) [usually have ambiguous titles not related to any of the above three Floating Abstraction series: "Wrinkled White on Venetian Red" (1954), "Uranium and Gold" (1955), "Untitled" (1959). Also, Kirkland wanted the viewer to consider any floating abstraction as a pure abstraction, if desired.]


All dot paintings have this theme in common, with the possible exception that one can choose to see some of them as Pure Abstractions; five principal series. All, except the 12th series and the Geometric Vibrations (series 13-15), use oil and water mixtures interspersed with and underneath the dots.

A. ENERGY of VIBRATIONS IN SPACE (1963-1972) (also explores after-image effects)

(11) Organic Vibrations With Oil and Water Mixtures/Valhalla Series (1963-1966) (all have floating oil and water forms, interspersed with dots; patterns are free form) (Kirkland also called these his "Valhalla" paintings, relating these to fire and Norse creation mythology, and fiery fragments in space.)

(12) Organic Vibrations Without Oil and Water Mixtures (1964-67, 1968 no. 1, 1970) (no oil and water forms, dot patterns are free form.) (Vibrating dots portray the energy and magnetic objects in space.)

Geometric Vibrations (1966-72) (no oil and water combinations; dots form geometric patterns; dots and signature sometimes on side edges of paintings) (Kirkland said he wished to convey the order of the universe in these, his only non-free form paintings.) 3 sub series as below:



(15) OPEN SUN PAINTINGS (1971-2)

B. ENERGY of MYSTERIES IN SPACE (1972-1976) (Oil and water techniques are used--as a secondary layer--and paintings are free form for these and all future paintings. The oil and water mixtures and the dots sometimes make a singular, dense form [1972-75] or become multiple, separated forms [1972-76].)

(16) Open Mysteries: Oil and water patterns partly left uncovered by dots (1972-74) (oil and water becomes foreground in places; also creates the sensation of dropping through openings in the dot fabric into chasms of oil and water.)

(17) Veiled Mysteries: Oil and water patterns covered by dots, but still visible underneath (1972-76)

(combinations establish various planes, and dimensional effects in a different way.)

C. (18) ENERGY of EXPLOSIONS IN SPACE (1976-1979) (patterns and forms explode.)

D. (19) ENERGY of FORCES IN SPACE (1979-1981) (Backgrounds develop great, undulating currents, force fields and shock waves against which the generally smaller explosions are seen.)

E. (20) PURE ABSTRACTIONS (1963-81) (Again, some dot paintings are ambiguously titled so the viewer can decide if these paintings have a particular theme or are pure abstractions: "Grey on Yellow Space", 1975. Furthermore, Kirkland encouraged the viewer to see any dot painting as a pure abstraction if desired.)

Hours by Appointment

Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Please call for availability - (303) 832-8576

Admission Guidelines

$2.50 per person

Tour sizes are limited to 15-20 people


Hugh Grant - President & Curator

Brian J. Lang - Manager of Operations

Tasha McDonald - Public Relations & Marketing Manager

Laura Laff - Education Coordinator

Steve Spahlinger - Collections Services

Dean Sartori - Conservator


· The Vance Kirkland Studio and Foundation is located on the northwest corner of

13th and Pearl Street.

· A parking lot is located on the southwest corner of 14th and Logan Street, directly north of a small brick building (west side of Logan). Only spaces numbered 19-26can be used in the lot.

· Parking may also be accessed for one or two hours on Pearl Street and also on Pennsylvania Street. Other, street parking in the neighborhoodis tight and well regulated.


· This is the oldest commercial art building in Colorado, built in 1910 - 1911, the same year as the Daniels and Fisher Tower - the traditional landmark of Denver. The art building was inaugurated as the "Student's School of Art" by pioneer artist (William) Henry Read (English-American 1851-1935). [Read came to Denver in 1890, and founded "The Student's School of Art" in 1895. He used parts of downtown Denver buildings until he could finally build this custom structure with northern skylights for painting. Read taught important Colorado artists including Elisabeth Spalding, Allen Tupper True and Albert Olson. Read was one of the thirteen founders of the Artist's Club in 1893 (became the Denver Art Museum) and some early Denver Art Museum meetings were held in this building until 1922 when Chappell House, (now demolished) became available for the Denver Art Museum at 13th Avenue and Logan, two blocks from this building.]

· 1932-1946: Vance Kirkland established "The Kirkland School of Art" in this historic building, where classes were accredited by the University of Colorado. Also in 1932, the City and County Building opened in Denver's Civic Center. 1946-1981: used as Kirkland's personal studio until his death [Kirkland was also the founding Director of the University of Denver's School of Art, 1929-32, 1946-69]. Kirkland and his wife Anne had a lovely house and garden five blocks away at 817 Pearl Street. The studio has never been a place of residence.

· 1981-present: maintained by Kirkland's estate. His work room is still being used to restore and conserve paintings. A new 8,000 square foot addition has been built adjacent to the old studio to increase painting storage, exhibition space, and to help accommodate the increasing requests for tours. Many Kirkland paintings from the Denver Art Museum collection are on display here.


The estate of Vance Kirkland (1904-81), the estate of Albert Olson (1885-1940),

portion of the estate of Otto Bach (1909-90), selected works by Werner Drewes

(1899-1985), [one of his three sons lives in Denver], and other artists.


Portion of the estate of Edgar Britton (1901-82), selected pieces by Harry Bertoia

(1915-78), and George Rickey (b. 1907).

Dinnerware, Serving Pieces, & Ceramics

Major and rare collections of modern American dinnerware; spun aluminum,

chrome & wood serving pieces; glassware; flatware; 1930-70 by: Russel Wright,

Mary Wright, Eva Zeisel, Ben Seibel, Bob Allen, & Mel Shaw (California Mobile

Dinnerware), Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Walter Drowin Teague and

Gio Ponti. [R. Wright, Zeisel, and Seibel are probably the three most important

designers who pioneered modern American dinnerware shapes and


Selected 20th Century pieces by Tamac Pottery and Weller Pottery Company,

Salem China Company, Bakelite, Coors, Van Briggle, Jarvie and Tiffany.


Modern American and European, 1930-70, by: Emilio Ambasz, Harry Bertoia,

Norman Cherner, Dunbar, Charles & Ray Eames, Paul Frankl, Frank Gehry,

Jacques Guillon(string chairs 1950), Finn Juhl, Florence Knoll, Paul McCobb, George Nelson,Isamu Noguchi, Verner Panton, Giancarlo Piretti, Warren Platner, Gio Ponti, Gilbert Rhode, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings,

Eero Saarinen, Herman Sperlich (Ironrite), Giotto Stoppino, Hans Wegner,

Frank Lloyd Wright, Russel Wright, and others.


Table cloths by Russel Wright are in the collection. About 40 Persian and Oriental

carpets are rotated on the floors.


Key Personnel:

Hugh Grant, President & Curator

Tell us what you think.

Do you have any additional comments concerning this site?
Do you wish to receive some information on how to get your museum on the Museums Tour?

Thank you again for your visit.


This page and all contents are © 1995-2014 Art Emotion Corp., IL. USA.
All information is subject to change - This document is non contractual.