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Have Turban Will Travel

Objects are fussy. They’re susceptible to humidity, light levels, vibrations, and any number of other dangers, both large (floods) and small (mice). And whether it’s a tiny tea cup or a four-ton bronze statue, each object also has its own idiosyncrasies. Wood, for example, doesn’t get along with water, and paper can’t stand light. A museum is carefully designed, in part, to control all these factors and to give objects the secure and stable home they deserve. But what happens when an object needs to travel outside the museum’s walls?

The permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco number over 100,000 objects, and only a percentage are on view. However, many of these treasured artworks can be viewed in exhibitions at other institutions throughout the world at any given time. When art objects are loaned in this way, they often travel for long periods of time, which is why it’s so important for our conservators to carefully prepare objects for their extended journeys. Such was the case when the Cleveland Museum of Art requested to borrow an ancient turban from the Nasca culture of Peru, featured in the exhibition Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes that opened last week.

Turban, 200–600. Peru, South Coast, Nasca. Cotton cord wrapped with a band of camelid fiber fringe. The Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Collection Gift of Caroline McCoy-Jones. 2000.17.5

Mummy by the Bay: Irethorrou, an Egyptian Priest of the Early Persian Period

This Halloween, we take you inside one of the Museums’ most enigmatic inhabitants: the mummy Irethorrou. While mummies have long been the antagonists of numerous horror films, they also provide us with incredible insight into the funerary practices and religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians. We dare you to read on as curator Dr. Renée Dreyfus and Egyptologist Jonathan P. Elias unwrap the Museums’ mummy.

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin, ca. 500 BC. Egypt, Akhmim, Middle Egypt. Human remains, linen, wood with polychrome. Gift of the First Federal Trust Company (from the Estate of Jeremiah Lynch). 42895

A Half-Century of Excellence

When Kathan Brown first opened Crown Point Press (CPP) in 1962, lithography and screenprinting were the prevailing fine art printmaking workshop processes. With the establishment of CPP, Brown provided artists with alternatives to these methods, affirming her commitment to intaglio—any process in which incisions in a plate’s surface hold the ink that will create the image. These new printmaking possibilities evolved into increasingly diverse offerings that afforded artists new outlets for their creativity, the fruits of which are currently on display in Crown Point Press at 50 (through February 17, 2013) at the de Young.

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith (American, b. 1954). Still, 2006. Color spit-bite aquatint with flat-bite and soft-ground and hard-ground etching printed on gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. 2010.39.17.2

Instrument in Progress

Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young features work in progress by Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique). As part of the creation of her original work, Instrument, Jenkinson is working with three different choreographers in an experimental process designed to enact, expose, and undermine the roles of the dancer as workhorse and the choreographer as auteur. The presentation tonight will be a rare opportunity to witness the development of Instrument, inspired in part by Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance (on display at the de Young through February 17, 2013). The first in a series of three, today’s post focuses on the collaboration between Jenkinson and choreographer Miguel Gutierrez.

Monique dancing

Bring Me Scissors! And Other Memories of Rudolf Nureyev

At the age of 14, former ballerina Stephanie Herman ditched school and waited in line for six hours at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House to see Rudolf Nureyev dance with Margot Fonteyn. Little did she know that a decade later, she would be dancing with the famed ballerino, whose career and costumes are the subject of the special exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance, which opens tomorrow, October 6.

Layers of Leslie

There are only two weeks left to experience the special exhibition Chuck Close and Crown Point Press: Prints and Processes on view at the de Young. The tight focus of this exhibition allows visitors to zero in on the processes behind Chuck Close’s photorealist technique as it appears in the print format.

Constructing a Collection: Paintings, Power, and William S. Paley

It was well known within the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) that chief executive William S. Paley would always set aside what he was working on to take a call from The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Paley’s relationship with MoMA began in 1937, just eight years after its founding, and included roles as trustee, president, and chairman. His eventual donation of his collection to the museum—an important selection of modernist art—strengthened the institution in vital ways, and is the subject of The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism, which is on view through December 30 at the de Young. Paley's relationship with MoMA was built on great generosity, and continued until his death in 1990.

Picasso_Paley

William S. Paley in the foyer of his home at 820 Fifth Avenue, in front of his Pablo Picasso painting, Boy Leading a Horse (early 1906). Museum Archives Personalities Slide Collection. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

FAMSF Portraits Featured in Set for San Francisco Opera

Recently, our photo services and imaging department responded to a rather unusual request from San Francisco Opera set designer Naomie Kremer. Kremer, who was designing a video set for an operatic adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden (premiering on March 1, 2013) asked if she could incorporate portraits from the Museums’ permanent collection into her design. As today’s guest blogger, Kremer takes us on an incredible journey into The Secret Garden, giving us a sneak peek into the fantastical world she created.

Kremer Image

Image by Naomie Kremer

The Secret Garden is a well-loved children’s story familiar to many generations. I’ve discovered that for many people, it is an iconic story that strikes a deep chord and seems to stay in their subconscious long after its last reading.

Off the Walls in Z Space

For the past year, Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson and her artistic partner Catch Me Bird have been creating Off the Walls, a multimedia performance based on the de Young Museum’s iconic painting Aspiration (1936) by Aaron Douglas. On September 20, the world premiere of Off the Walls will take flight in the Koret Auditorium at the de Young. Today we highlight Z Space, one of the project’s collaborating partners, whose technical residencies offer artists and performers the time and resources to experiment with various staging elements and production designs integral to the creative process.

Z Space B_W

Photo by Adrian Arias

Bridging the Divide: A Conversation with Catherine Herrera

Catherine Herrera is a Bay Area artist and filmmaker of Ohlone descent who has collaborated with the de Young Museum on numerous projects over the past several years. This Friday Night at the de Young, September 7, Herrera’s video installation Bridge Walkers will be on view for one night only in the observation deck on the ninth floor of the museum’s Hamon Education Tower. In this, the third installment of Five Days of Friday, director of public programs Renee Baldocchi sits down with Herrera to learn more about the installation and the artist’s practice.

Upraised hands

Still from Bridge Walkers

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