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Blog Category: Exhibitions

Decades of Style

Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria, 1936 – 2008) for the House of Dior. “Refrain” Cocktail Dress, 1958. White silk surah printed with gray and black pebble pattern. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Iselin, Jr., 1959. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Clothes tell the story of an age.

The Scottish Visitors: A Family from Pitlessie

Sir David Wilkie (1785–1841), Pitlessie Fair (detail), 1804. Oil on canvas, 24¼ x 43½ in. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Purchased 1921 (NG 1527)

These might not appear to be the most pious folks—the fifth commandment concerning honoring your parents doesn’t appear to be high on these kids’ list. But read more about how Sir David Wilkie secretly sketched his fellow parishioners in church, and then used those drawings to populate his great painting, Pitlessie Fair from 1804.

The latest of our Scottish visitors, the excerpt below is from the exhibition catalog for Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland, available for purchase in the Museum Store.

The Scottish Visitors: Berthia Hamilton Don-Wauchope

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell 1883–1937, Portrait of a Lady in Black, about 1921. Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Bequeathed by Mr and Mrs G.D. Robinson through the Art Fund, 1988

A drawing room with lilac walls and highly polished black floors—and a pile of props like top hats, opera cloaks, and fans. Read more about how Cadell used his spectacular living space to inject a little glamour into his portrait of our next Scottish vistor, Berthia Hamilton Don-Wauchope, the artist's 50-something neighbor from Edinburgh. The except below is from the  exhibition catalog for Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland, available for purchase in the Museum Store.

The Scottish Visitors: Lady Agnew of Lochnaw

John Singer Sargent 1856–1925, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1865–1932), 1892. Oil on canvas, 125.7 x 100.3 cm (49½ x 39½ in). Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Purchased with the aid of the Cowan Smith Bequest Fund, 1925 (NG1656).

The next in our weekly series of Scottish visitors is Lady Agnew, who sat for John Singer Sargent at the age of 27. Her pose is "notably langorous," possibly because she was recovering from a period of nervous exhaustion at the time. The except below is from the  exhibition catalog for Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland, available for purchase in the Museum Store.

The Scottish Visitors: Colonel Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell

Sir Henry Raeburn 1756–1823, Colonel Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell, 15th Chief of Glengarry (1771–1828), about 1812, Oil on canvas, 241.9 x 151.1 cm (95¼ x 59½ in), Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Purchased 1917 (NG420).

Sir Henry Raeburn 1756–1823, Colonel Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell, 15th Chief of Glengarry (1771–1828), about 1812, Oil on canvas, 95¼ x 59½ inches, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Purchased 1917 (NG420).

There’s a full cast of characters in Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland—everyone from a Tahitian temptress painted by Paul Gauguin, to a rowdy Dutchman by Frans Hals. But there are also plenty of Scots, and once a week we'll highlight one of them by excerpting a section from the exhibition catalog, available for purchase in the Museum Store.

The View from LA

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Norham Castle, Sunrise, ca.1845. Oil on canvas, 35 ¾ x 48 in. (90.8 x 121.9 cm).
Tate London. Image © Tate, London 2014

From our pen pals at the Getty: What J. M. W. Turner might have loved about the City of Angels. J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free, currently at the Getty, heads to the de Young on June 20; stay tuned for why we think Turner should have left his heart in San Francisco.

Accidental Collectors: Robert and Jane Meyerhoff’s Modernism Collection

In 1987, Jane and Robert Meyerhoff announced their pledge to donate their art collection to the National Gallery of Art, including many of the works currently on view in the de Young’s special exhibition Modernism from National Gallery of Art.  But before they were given to the nation, these works first made up a personal collection that the couple had built and lived with for many years.

Looking at Lace

Lately, lace is everywhere you look. In December 2013 the de Young Museum opened Lace: Labor and Luxury, a small installation showcasing prints from the Achenbach Foundation of Graphic Arts featuring fashionable lace-wearing men and women alongside fine examples of lace from the costume and textile arts department.

Art Market San Francisco 2014

On May 15—18 Art Market San Francisco, the Bay Area’s contemporary and modern art fair, returns to Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion for its fourth annual show. Engaging the interest of both active and new collectors, the fair features artworks from approximately 70 established and up-and-coming galleries from around the country.

A large crowd mills about an art fair

Mounting the Weisel Family Collection

The Thomas Weisel Family’s recent gift of Native American art is comprised in large part of pottery, including rare Mimbres pieces that date back to the 11th century. Approximately 50 pieces of Mimbres and Pueblo pottery will be on view in the upcoming exhibition, Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection, which highlights the gift. Pottery presents an interesting set of challenges when being considered for display, especially here in earthquake country. Our team of mount makers has been busily crafting custom-made mounts for each pot slated to go on view when the exhibition opens this Saturday, May 3.

A painted pot sits on a riser while a female technician adjusts its base

Weekends with Georgia

Although Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George (on view at the de Young through May 11) focuses on the artist’s work created in upstate New York, O’Keeffe is famously associated with the arid deserts of New Mexico. Anna Koster, an artist who now lives in the Bay Area, shares her experience working with Georgia O’Keeffe at her beloved Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

An abstracted horizontal landscape of a still lake in shades of blue, grey, and green

Keeping It Green with Bouquets to Art Flower Designer Emily Dreblow

Emily Dreblow, founder of Soulflower Design Studio in San Francisco, is working on a floral creation for Bouquets to Art 2014—it’s her 5th year participating in the de Young’s art-inspired flower exhibition. Dreblow likes to approach her work with a focus on two values that are near and dear to San Francisco’s heart: community and sustainability.

A brunette woman in a teal top stands in front of a picture of succulent plants

Modern Nature Revealed

In this Q&A Timothy Anglin Burgard, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco curator in charge of American art, answers all your burning questions about Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, on view through May 11 at the de Young.

The Art Editor's Library

Before I joined the Fine Arts Museums seven years ago as an editor, I did not know such a job existed in the museum world. It is not a role that merits much attention—in fact, the more invisible the editor’s hand, the better. But if you look around at the museums, you will understand how important an editor is. From humble signage directing your way to hefty exhibition catalogues, a huge range of text in a variety of forms is issued by the Museums, all reviewed by a team of three editors in the publications department.

A shelf filled with books

Travels with Zarafa

Last week, our friends at the San Francisco Zoo welcomed a zooborn baby giraffe. Today, we introduce you to our resident giraffe, Zarafa, who is pictured on a 19th-century bedcover featured in the special exhibition From the Exotic to the Mystical: Textile Treasures from the Permanent Collection (on view until August 4, 2013). In this blog post, Zarafa shares her fascinating history as she takes us on a fantastical journey across the world.

Bedcover, ca. 1830. 2010.10

Bedcover, ca. 1830. United States. Cotton; block-print and appliqué. Gift of Mrs. Mary Swaine Morgan. 2010.10

On the Hunt for Rembrandt

The special exhibition Rembrandt’s Century, closing on June 2, is remarkable not only for its breadth but also for the fact that it is drawn primarily from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (AFGA), the works on paper department at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. As curator Jim Ganz relates, this exhibition’s compilation required an epic treasure hunt through the Museums’ permanent collections, an endeavor that proved neither easy nor efficient, but was ultimately incredibly fruitful.

Rembrandt's Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window, 1648

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669). Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window, 1648. Etching, drypoint, and engraving. Bruno and Sadie Adriani Collection. 1959.40.19

Dutch Clouds, Past and Present

Conversation 6, a special exhibition on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery in the Civic Center through April 27, pairs Jason Hanasik, a local multimedia artist, with Berndnaut Smilde, an internationally recognized installation artist from Amsterdam. Today’s guest blogger Meg Shiffler is the director of the SFAC Galleries, and in this entry focuses on the work of Smilde and its relationship to paintings featured in the special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.

Smilde1

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Munnekeholm, 2012

A Feast for the Eyes

Foodies and art aficionados alike can feast their eyes on delectable still lifes in the special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis on view at the de Young through June 2. With the abundance of delicious artwork on view, it is only fitting that the de Young Café provides equally delicious food to satiate cravings experienced while inside the exhibition.

All’s Fair in Love and Art

In two weeks, Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth present the culminating exhibition of their yearlong fellowship featuring the display of their monumental tapestry triptych, The Conflicts. This Valentine’s Day, Hope and Roth share the secret behind their success in love and art.

Timeline of Cooperation

A Devil in the Details

The special exhibition Rembrandt’s Century, currently on view alongside Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, is striking both in its breadth and for the fact that the works on view all come from the Fine Arts Museums’ permanent collections. Preparations for this exhibition were lengthy, with some works requiring restoration treatments.

Researching the Renovation of a Period Room

As the digital media interpretive media fellow at the de Young and the Legion of Honor, my primary role is to digitally document and interpret the yearlong project The Salon Doré: The Conservation of a Period Room, currently underway at the Legion of Honor.

carving

An Interview with Brad Rosenstein and Jean Lamprell

Artists-in-Residence Brad Rosenstein and Jean Lamprell conclude their month-long residence this weekend at the de Young. Rosenstein, an independent curator, has transformed the Artist Studio into a floating gallery of gossamer tutus created by renowned costumier Jean Lamprell. In this blog post, museum educator Gregory Stock interviews this dynamic duo.

Title Wall

Framing Rembrandt's Century

Consisting of approximately 250 artworks, Rembrandt’s Century presents a diverse picture of the art and personalities that defined the Dutch Golden Age. Drawn entirely from the Museums’ permanent collection of works on paper in the renowned Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, this exhibition required months of preparation. Curators, conservators, and art technicians worked together to frame—both literally and figuratively—this important selection of masterworks.

Framing Rembrandt's Century

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

Like or not, the holiday gift-giving season is upon us, the time of year we begin making a list and checking it twice. It’s a good thing that Christmas and Hanukkah only come around once a year, what with all the stress gift selection causes. In 17th- and 18th-century France, however, the fine art of gift giving was a yearlong endeavor.

Let Them Eat Turkey

Thanksgiving is the time when you get to use all the best stuff in your kitchen: the gravy boat, the fancy napkins, and, of course, the turkey deep fryer. Louis XIV and the other French monarchs who succeeded him obviously didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but they did bring out the good stuff when setting the table. Some of the objects in Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, open through March 31, 2013 at the Legion of Honor, are examples of these items; they’re just like the things you set your table with, but with a “royal” twist.

You’ve probably moved past the first dining room set that you bought off Craigslist, but no matter how nice your table is, you likely didn’t have it custom-made to feature your royal markings. Louis XIV’s mosaic tabletop is made of semi-precious stones and features, among other things, some of his official emblems, like the lyre of Apollo and fleurs-de-lis. It was made by the Gobelins manufactory, a workshop responsible for many of the objects used to decorate Versailles and the other royal residences.

Louis XIV tabletop

Mosaic tabletop with emblems of Louis XIV, last quarter of the 17th century.
Gobelins Manufactory (France, established 1662)
Marble and pietre dure (hardstones)
©RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

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

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

Interiority and the The William S. Paley Collection: Home as a Staging Ground for Identity

It’s hard to imagine that the artwork on view in The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism (through December 30) once decorated the walls of a private home. Today’s guest blogger, Alisa Carroll, explores the role that art can play in both the construction of a home and the communication of the owner’s identity. Carroll is a San Francisco-based writer and consultant the editor-in-chief of 3D Magazine, and a San Francisco scout for Elle Décor. Her first book, a monograph with interior designer Jay Jeffers, will be published by Rizzoli in fall 2013.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). M. de Lauradour, 1897.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). M. de Lauradour, 1897. Oil and gouache on cardboard. 26 3/4 x 32 1/2 inches. The William S. Paley Collection. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. SPC79.1990

Interiority—The quality of being focused on one’s inner life and identity.

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

From Muse to Master

Throughout art history, the muse has played a central role in the artist’s process. The modern art muse has found its most frequent embodiment in women, from Victorine Muerent to Camille Claudel to Kiki de Montparnasse to Marie-Therese Walter (and the numerous other women portrayed by Picasso). Female muses have been both model and artistic catalyst to their typically more famous male collaborators, even though their own creative production is often considered of equal value. Lee Miller, one of the subjects of the special exhibition Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism (on view at the Legion of Honor through October 14), has long been pigeonholed as Man Ray’s muse. But, as this exhibition reveals, Miller’s relationship with Man Ray was only the beginning of her journey from muse to master.

Floating

Man Ray (American, 1890–1976). Portrait of Lee Miller–Flying Head, c. 1930. Vintage gelatin silver print. Lee Miller Archives, England © 2012 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

The Invisible Man: Self-Portrait by Chuck Close

In 1972, Chuck Close came to Oakland’s Crown Point Press with the express goal of mastering the art of printmaking. The special exhibition currently on view in the Anderson Gallery at the de Young Museum, Chuck Close and Crown Point Press: Prints and Processes , examines this groundbreaking period in the artist’s career. In an earlier post, we discussed the mezzotint print Keith in the context of its 40th anniversary. Today, we take a closer look at Chuck Close’s Self-Portrait, completed in 1977.

Self-Portrait

Chuck Close (American, b. 1940). Self-Portrait (Black on White), 1977. Hard-ground etching with aquatint. Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation. 1996.74.65

#MuseumOlympics Torch on Fire: A Story of Collaboration and Social Innovation

For the past two weeks, the world watched athletes from the world over compete and triumph in the 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, museums the world over competed on Twitter in the tongue-in cheek competition #MuseumOlympics, which originated right here in San Francisco. Willa Köerner, digital engagement associate at SFMOMA and today's g uest blogger, takes us behind the scenes of #MuseumOlympics and reveals the origins of what will surely become a new quadrennial tradition.

Taber Olympics

Isaiah West Taber (American, 1830–1912). Olympic Club Day, 1894. Gelatin silver print. California Midwinter International Exposition, through M.H. deYoung. 2502

Life with René

In 2010 longtime trustee Denise Fitch gave the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco an extensive collection of drawings by her first husband, artist René Bouché (1905–1963). Bouché—who contributed illustrations to esteemed publications such as Vogue and Time Magazine—is the subject of the special exhibition René Bouché: Letters from Post-War Paris at the Legion of Honor. Friends with both Man Ray and Lee Miller, Mrs. Fitch and René Bouché led rich lives that sparkled with art, culture, humor, and glamour.

Bicycle

René Robert Bouché (French, 1905–1963). 139. La Parisienne 1945 from The Morning After: Paris, 1945. Pen, ink, and color wash on paper. Gift of Denise B. Fitch in memory of my late husband, René Robert Bouché (1905–1963). 2010.61.2.13.

My Olympic Memories

Here at the de Young, we know Gregory Stock as “Mr. Friday Nights,” but he used to be an elite collegiate swimmer. As we enter the final week of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Gregory shares with us some of his favorite Olympic memories.

As a young competitive swimmer, my adolescence consisted of waking up early for practice before school, spending hours training in the pool, perfecting my technique, and focusing on the ultimate goal of touching the wall first.

Weird Sports: Olympic Oddities from the Ancient World

The Olympic canoe sprint, an event that starts on August 6, looks pretty weird when you think about it: human beings wrapped in brightly colored fabrics, sitting in little plastic shells, racing on a simulated river. It would have looked even weirder to the ancient Greeks. The first Olympic event was actually pretty simple, the stadion: a foot race of exactly one stade, which was a length of about 180 meters. It was run naked, it was over in less than a minute, and nobody capsized. The ancient Olympics did include some pretty weird sports however, and Gifts From the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal, currently on view at the Legion of Honor, exhibits several ancient coins depicting some of the oddest ones. 

coin with man and torch

Jockey galloping right, holding torch (obverse), silver didrachm, ca. 280-272 BC, Tarentum, Calabria. Anonymous Loan

The Art of the Photo Finish

As millions watch the Summer Olympics opening ceremony this Friday, July 27, the best athletes in the world will officially open the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The next day, Saturday, July 28, Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal opens at the Legion of Honor. Like the opening ceremony, and the Games themselves, this exhibition celebrates athletic

Marcel Duchamp’s World in a Box: Fixing a Famous Valise

Museum visitors currently have the opportunity to look inside a rare treasure normally kept locked in dark storage. Marcel Duchamp: The Book and the Box, currently on view in the Logan Gallery at the Legion of Honor, features Duchamp’s iconic artwork, Boîte en Valise, which was made in the late 1930s.

Victoria and the box

Man Ray and Lee Miller: Excerpts from a Conversation with Julian Cox

The special exhibition Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism opens tomorrow at the Legion of Honor. Earlier this summer, Julian Cox sat down with the San Francisco Arts Quarterly’s John Held, Jr. to discuss the photography of Man Ray and Lee Miller, their mutual invention and artistic discovery, and the stormy, but inspired, relationship that ultimately lasted a lifetime. Read the complete interview in issue 10 of the SFAQ print edition on August 3.

Man Ray, Lee Miller, and a gun

Attributed to Man Ray (1890–1976) Fairground, c. 1930. Vintage postcard print. The Roland Penrose Collection, England

Conflict in the Collections

De Young Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth are artists-in-residence this month in the Artist Studio. They are working on completing the third monumental tapestry in their triptych entitled The Conflicts. Today, guest blogger Andy Diaz Hope discusses aspects of the Museums’ permanent collections that touch on the themes contained in this project.

From Native Culture to Indigenous Couture

The influence of a variety of non-western cultures can be seen throughout the collections featured in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Tonight at Friday Nights at the de Young, we honor the origins of these influences with an evening of Indigenous Couture curated by Native American artist, dancer, and designer Eddie Madril.

Arctic Influences

Proud to be JPG

This weekend San Francisco (and the world) celebrates gay pride with rainbows, parades, love, and equality. What better way to ring in the revelry than with a visit to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which highlights the designer’s personal ethos of “equality, diversity and perversity?” Blurring the lines between male and female, Gaultier achieves a code of beauty that is at once masculine, feminine, and androgynous. The openly gay Gaultier has never been afraid to break social taboos, and in so doing has created his own open-minded and generous fashion world.

Men in Lace

Extravagance and Luxury: Victorian San Francisco

This is the last week to see The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900which closes on Sunday, June 17, at the Legion of Honor. San Francisco has been the perfect host city in which to display this groundbreaking exhibition due in no small part to the city’s rich Victorian past. At a recent panel discussion,  "Extravagance and Industry,"  hosted by

Happy birthday, Julia Margaret Cameron!

Since its invention in the mid 19th century, photography has been at the forefront of progressive art making traditions—so its presence in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 is no surprise. By the 1890s, photography was a half-century old and its supporters vociferously claimed it to be an independent art form, advocating for the idea of "art photography." Today we celebrate the birthday of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the greatest photographers from this period and whose work is currently on display in The Cult of Beauty at the Legion of Honor (closing this Sunday, June 17).

Portrait of a Woman

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815–1879). Portrait of a Woman (Louise Beatrice de Fonblanque), 1868. Albumen silver print from wet-collodion-on-glass negative mounted to a heavier sheet. Museum purchase, Mrs. Milton S. Latham Fund. 1992.138

Corsets in Context: A History

The corset looms large in special exhibitions at both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. Jean Paul Gaultier, the subject of the de Young's  The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , integrated this iconic garment into his prêt-à-porter collections as early as 1983. Meanwhile, over at the Legion of Honor in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860 –1900 (on view through June 17) the artists of the Aesthetic Movement rejected the corset in defiance of Victorian era fashions and social mores. Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young explores the surprisingly dynamic world of Haute Corsets , with local corset makers Dark Garden and a screening of Truth or Dare , in which Madonna gets into the groove wearing Gaultier's unforgettable cone bra corset. Before you lace up, bone up on the fascinating history of this beguiling bodice!

Mashup

Left: Emil Larsson, Body corset worn by Madonna, Blond Ambition World Tour, 1990. Dazed & Confused, April 2008 © Emil Larsson; Right: Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833–1898). Pomona, 1886–1920. Wool, silk, cotton; tapestry weave. Museum purchase, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2001.120.2

The Wonderful World of Victorian Children's Books

In the special exhibition Making the Modern Picture Book: Children’s Books from the Victorian Era (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), the intimate art of 19th-century story telling is revealed. England at this time was undergoing a formative period in the design, production, and marketing of children’s books, which were often gifted as rewards or prizes, and reinforced socially acceptable behavior in the guise of entertainment. Maintaining the principles of the Aesthetic Movement, publishers and renowned illustrators achieved a compelling fusion of art and literature.

L is for Lady

William Nicholson (British, 1872–1949). An Alphabet: L is for Lady, 1898. Color lithograph. Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. 1963.30.1351.13

Mark Garrett Will Work for Art!

Will Work for Art introduces you to the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. Today, we visit the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts where we meet Mark Garrett, a senior museum technician. Originally from Tennessee, Mark has been with the Museums for 23 years!

Mark Garrett

Man in the Mirror

Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young celebrates the history of the dandy from Oscar Wilde to Jean Paul Gaultier. Whereas Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic style was derided as too feminine, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces gender bending, dressing men in skirts and women in exquisitely tailored suits. In this way, Gaultier's designs approach a new androgyny and subvert established fashion codes. The designer toys with standard concepts of the masculine and feminine throughout the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , but one exhibit in particular literally speaks to this issue. He is the Man in the Mirror.

Designing Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964

This weekend marks your last chance to experience the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 , on view at the de Young until June 3. As book designer and guest blogger Martin Venezky aptly notes, the catalogue represents a lasting impression of an otherwise temporary exhibition. Today, Venezky shares with us the process behind the creation of this unique publication.

The catalogue for the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 provides a nice case study into the inner workings of a book design. The book itself is deceptively simple. It contains reproductions of sixty-eight photographs from the exhibition, an essay, an interview, locations and credits, a foreword, and a set of additional images—some historical, some personal, and some working contact sheets. But beneath the seemingly placid surface there were hundreds of options to consider and decisions to make.

Cover

FRAME|WORK: The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) by James McNeill Whistler

Although the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17) primarily features art by English artists, the impact of American expatriate James McNeill Whistler cannot be ignored. Whistler is best known for his subdued but complicated portraits—such as the world-famous Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 or “Whistler’s Mother”—but today’s FRAME|WORK highlights a rather unusual painting by this American in England. The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) is in the permanent collection of the de Young but is currently on view as a part of The Cult of Beauty

Frilthy Lucre

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903). The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor), 1879. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music. 1977.11

Behind the Scenes at the Opening Night of artMRKT

For the past week, Max Fishko and company have been tirelessly converting the Concourse Exhibition Center from a cavernous abandoned train depot into artMRKT, San Francisco’s premier contemporary art venue. Tonight’s exclusive preview benefits the de Young and the Legion of Honor, so we thought we’d take you inside for a behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable transformation.

Music, Muses and Divas in the Art of the Victorian Avant-Garde

Tomorrow, May 12, 2012, the Legion of Honor presents Music, Muses and Divas , public programs associated with The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view through June 17). Premier scholars of Victorian art Tim Barringer and Peter Trippi lecture on the complmentary topics of music and theater in the context of the Aesthetic Movement. We asked our lecturers a few questions about their respective talks to provide insight into the day’s presentations.

Saint Cecilia

John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, oil on canvas. Private Collection

Outlasting Eternity: A Reflection on the Figures of Stephen De Staebler

Guest-blogger Tim Svenonius is the interpretive media producer at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and an artist in his own right. Here he shares his insights and reflections after seeing Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler on view at the de Young through May 13.

Three Figures

From left to right: Man with Broad Chest, 2010. Bronze with patina. Courtesy of Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco; Winged Woman Walking I, 1987. Bronze with patina. Courtesy of Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco; Winged Figure with Three Legs, 2003. Collection of Peter and Beverly Lipman, Portola Valley, California.

Inside the Pavonia Room

Two weeks ago we introduced you to Geoffrey De Sousa’s concept for the Pavonia Room. Inspired by the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), De Sousa’s gentleman’s study will be installed at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase opening this Saturday, April 28. Today, De Sousa serves as a guest-blogger to unveil the completed space.

De Sousa in the Pavonia Room

Geoffrey De Sousa, the gentleman in his study

Love and the Maiden: A Harmony of Hues

In this installment of our continuing blog series examining key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through the lens of John Stanhope’s masterwork Love and the Maiden (typically on view in gallery 18 at the Legion of Honor and currently on view in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900), curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron takes a closer look at color.

Love and the Maiden

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (English, 1829–1908). Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas. Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2002.176

Discarded to Divine at the de Young!

From his earliest forays into fashion design, Jean Paul Gaultier utilized surprising and sometimes recycled materials. As a child, inspired by his grandmother’s corset, Gaultier repurposed crumpled newspaper to create the conical-shaped falsies that he attached to his beloved teddy bear, Nana. Entering its seventh year, Discarded to Divine—an event that auctions off designer duds made from donated clothing to benefit the homeless—exemplifies Gaultier’s earliest instincts to recycle with style and purpose.

The Pavonia Room and the Art of Design

Since 1977, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase has taken over some of the city’s most prestigious addresses and redesigned them to benefit the San Francisco University High School’s financial aid program. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, this year’s Decorator Showcase sets up residence at 2020 Jackson Street from April 28–May 28, 2012.

2020 Jackson

2020 Jackson Street, site of the 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase

FRAME|WORK: The Garden Bench by James Tissot

During the second half of the 19th century, the face of European art history was altered by artists on both sides of the English Channel. This week’s FRAME|WORK features Le Banc de Jardin (The Garden Bench ), a print by French artist James Tissot, who was as at home with the Victorian avant-garde in London as he was with the Impressionists in Paris. This print is currently on display in Gallery 18 at the Legion of Honor and Tissot’s painting also appears in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900.

The Garden Bench

James Tissot (French, 1836–1902) Le Banc de Jardin (The Garden Bench), 1883. Mezzotint. Gift of Edward Tyler Nahem. 2003.151.68

The Film World of Jean Paul Gaultier

This week, San Francisco enters the film world of Jean Paul Gaultier! Tonight, in partnership with the Fashion Film Festival, Friday Nights at the de Young presents Falbalas, the film that inspired Gaultier to embark on his fashion odyssey. Also tonight, the Castro Theater screens a JPG double feature, which includes Luc Besson’s sci-fi adventure The Fifth Element. And on Sunday, the Fashion Film Festival features Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s dark fairy tale The City of Lost Children at the Roxie.

Fifth Element

Jean Paul Gaultier, Costume sketch for The Fifth Element, directed by Luc Besson, 1997 © Jean Paul Gaultier

Matter + Spirit: A Conversation with Danae Mattes

The exhibition Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler is on view at the de Young Museum through May 13. Stephen De Staebler’s widow, the artist Danae Mattes, worked closely with the Museums on this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue. She shares with the Museums’ managing editor of publications, Leslie Dutcher, some of her impressions of Stephen De Staebler’s work and her collaboration with him.

De Staebler and his work

Left: Stephen De Staebler, ca. 1995. Right: Stephen De Staebler. Yoke Winged Man (detail), 1994. Bronze, oil paint and patina. Collection of Russ Solomon, Sacramento. Photo by Scott McCue

Friday Nights at the de Young Are Back!

What do Jean Paul Gaultier, Lady Gaga, Don Draper and Frida Kahlo all have in common? They're all themes featured in Season Eight of Friday Nights at the de Young. After a four-month hiatus, the de Young opens Season Eight tonight, Friday, March 30, with a bigger than ever community party celebrating The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk .

Mad Men at the de Young: Protests, Pop Art and Pews

On Sunday night, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the much-anticipated season premiere of AMC’s Mad Men. Set in 1960s New York, Mad Men follows the careers and lives of Madison Avenue advertising executives as they negotiate the changing landscape of that mythologized decade. Currently on view at the de Young are three exhibitions that tap into this tumultuous time period: Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 (through June 3), New Dimensions: Prints and Multiples from the Anderson Collection (through July 1) and Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler (through May 13).

Mashup

From left to right: Arthur Tress, Untitled (Coit Tower), 1964. Printed 2010–11. Selenium-toned silver gelatin print. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. ©2012 Arthur Tress. Jasper Johns (American, b. 1930). Flag, from the Lead Reliefs series, 1969. Sheet-lead relief. Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation. 1996.74.214. Stephen De Staebler. Masks. Photo courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Artwork © Estate of Stephen De Staebler

I Want My JPG!

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (on view through August 19 at the de Young) reveals the limitless cross cultural influences at play in the work of Jean Paul Gaultier. Throughout his career, Gaultier has drawn inspiration from diverse formats ranging from film and television, technology, street and club culture, and, of course, music. Pop music and its reigning superstars have continuously stimulated the creative drive of fashion’s enfant terrible. Perhaps most famous for the iconic costumes created in collaboration with Madonna for her 1990 Blond Ambition tour, Gaultier has seamlessly integrated music and its larger-than-life personalities into his unique fashion world.

Madonna's corset

Emil Larsson, Body corset worn by Madonna, Blond Ambition World Tour, 1990. Dazed & Confused, April 2008. © Emil Larsson

Bringing the San Francisco Streets into the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier!

The designs of Jean Paul Gaultier often straddle the seemingly divergent worlds of haute couture and street fashion. To illustrate the profound influence of the street’s wild style on Gaultier’s designs, the museum commissioned San Francisco based artist Rio Yañez to create a 65-foot long graffiti mural, which will serve as the backdrop for the Punk Cancan section of the exhibition.

Investigating Indigo in the Art of the Anatolian Kilim

On view through June 10 in the Textiles Gallery at the de Young, The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection showcases extraordinary examples of flat-woven kilims from the 15th to the 19th century. Considered to be the most important group of Anatolian kilims outside of Turkey, these kilims are notable for their elaborate design patterns, unusual

Exhibition Beautiful: The Art of Wallpaper

William Morris, champion of the Aesthetic Movement, said of interior design, “Whatever you have in your rooms, think first of the walls.” Wallpaper was a defining decorative motif in the homes of the Victorian avant-garde and bourgeoisie alike. In keeping with this fashion, the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900

Podcast: Interview with Peter Solmssen about the First King Tut Exhibition

In celebration of the final days of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, we present an interview with Alameda resident Peter Solmssen about his work with the original King Tut exhibition in the 1970s.

During that time, Mr. Solmssen served in the State Department as deputy ambassador-at-large for cultural affairs, and played an instrumental role in bringing Treasures of Tutanhkamun to the United States.