institution: Clyfford Still Museum
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension
The first exhibition to reveal the spectrum of Clyfford Still’s graphic art has been captured and expanded in the Clyfford Still Museum’s first-ever digital catalogue, Clyfford Still: The Works on Paper (pubs.clyffordstillmuseum.org/worksonpaper). The online publication features installation photographs from every gallery wall in the exhibition, as well as high-resolution images of all 256 objects included in the exhibition, for a visually rich experience of never-before-seen works. The artworks are reproduced in a deep-zoom interface, which allows for an intimate examination of these drawings, revealing evidence of Still’s hand and his mastery of drawing media.
During his lifetime, Still refused to exhibit his drawings, so little was known to scholars and curators about Still’s drawing practice. The exhibition catalogue features an essay by scholar Patricia Failing, who tracks the centrality of drawing to Still’s development as an artist, as well as the drawing media’s importance throughout his career. This is the first major writing ever done on the subject of Still’s works on paper.
The publication was created using a static-site-generator plugin (Simply Static) on a custom-coded theme in WordPress (the Museum’s content management system). We chose to publish the online catalogue as a static site in order to help ensure stability and longevity for the publication’s scholarly content. As such, revisions to the content are documented in releases that are published to the site. Chicago and MLA citations are provided for every page of the site, as well as for the publication as a whole.
Distribution online has ensured a much larger audience for this work, a major priority for the Museum. Clyfford Still’s estate was sealed from public view after the artist’s death in 1980, until the Museum opened in 2011. Bound by the limits of Still’s will, the Museum cannot travel the collection readily, therefore distribution of our scholarship is of the utmost importance. The ability to release new scholarship of never-before-seen works in a free and widely distributable format has been an exciting new endeavor for the Museum. Online user sessions for the publication have far exceeded our expectations in numbers and geographic reach, and quickly surpassed estimates for sold copies of a print run.
E-pub and PDF formats are also available via the online publication at no charge. A 152-page print-on-demand softcover catalogue is available through our online store.