Clark Richert, Colorado art icon and Drop City founder, dies at at 80

Stephanie Wolf/CPR News
Colorado contemporary artist Clark Richert at CPR’s downtown Denver facilities on June 3, 2019. He died on Christmas Eve at the age of 80.

Clark Richert, whose abstract and counterculture art molded the Colorado art scene, died on Christmas Eve.

Richert, a University of Colorado graduate, came upon Abstract Expressionism and used the art style to explore complex ideas. His painting was a crossroads of his own creative force along with his family's math and science background.

“All matter has a crystalline form,” Richert told CPR News in 2019. “A lot of the art was, early on, an attempt to organize elements in the periodic table.”

In 1965, Richert and three friends dropped $450 on a 7 acre tract of land near Trinidad. The land eventually became known as Drop City, an artist community renowned in the counterculture era. Inspired by performance art made by Allan Kaprow during the 1950’s, residents constructed colorful domes and zonohedra for housing. 

The geometric shapes used in Drop City were a constant in Richert’s work, an inspiration he took from his father and brothers, all mathematicians. His paintings feature intricate, colorful patterns that organically occur in nature. 

His work has been exhibited across the nation in various museums. They’re currently at the RULE Gallery in Marfa, Texas. There is also a floor dedicated to him in Denver’s Art Hotel

Richert was recognized as faculty emeritus at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, a private for-profit institution in Lakewood.

This article will be updated.