Every culture tells a different story about what it means to die.
Blog Category: Exhibitions
Tonya Harding, eat your heart out.
A portrait of a scandal.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interiority—The quality of being focused on one’s inner life and identity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the last week to see The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900, which 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
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s guest blogger is 2012 de Young Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique). During her yearlong fellowship, she is focusing on the Museums’ costume and textiles collection, particularly the work of Jean Paul Gaultier as represented in the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (on view at the de Young through August 19). This Friday Night at the de Young, April 27, Jenkinson presents Making Scenes, a curated evening that includes a new dance/installation piece entitled Our People, inspired by the work of Gaultier—his icons, his fetishes and his light-hearted, humanistic irreverence. Here she shares with us the creative process behind the making of Our People.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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).
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.
Last month we featured John Roddam Stanhope’s Love and the Maiden in FRAME|WORK, which served as the first in a series of blog posts that will demonstrate key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through this singular painting. In this installment, curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron examines how Stanhope's use of tempera paint contributed to the aesthetic of the Victorian avant-garde.
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.
If there is one article of clothing associated with the Victorian Era, it is the corset. This Sunday, March 11, we continue our exclusive series of public programs for The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 with Visions of Beauty—Inside the Victorian Artists Salon, presented in partnership with Dark Garden Corsetry and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Artist Salon. We recently sat down with Autumn Adamme, the owner of Dark Garden and your guide to all things corseted, to discuss this controversial fashion icon.
Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 opens tomorrow at the de Young. Although the primary subject of the exhibition is the city we call home, many of the locations represented in the pictures were difficult to pin point. During his preparations for the exhibition, curator James Ganz tried to track down some of the more mysterious sites portrayed, which resulted in a San Francisco adventure of his own.
The integration of art and beauty into every aspect of life was one of the foremost tenets of the Aesthetic Movement. Artists who subscribed to this ideal stepped outside of the confines of their medium of choice and experimented with all variety of design: painters became furniture designers and architects designed textiles. This week’s FRAME|WORK features two luscious tapestries from the Museums’ permanent collections included in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17). Created by Edward Burne-Jones for Morris & Co., Flora and Pomona exemplify the aesthetics of the Aesthetic Movement.
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
Tomorrow The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (February 18–June 17) opens at the Legion of Honor! Exactly 130 years ago, the tenets of the Aesthetic Movement were introduced to San Francisco by none other than Oscar Wilde.
This week’s FRAME|WORK, featuring John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s luscious Love and the Maiden, will serve as the first in a series of posts examining a variety of themes present throughout the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (opening this Saturday, February 18). Stanhope’s allegorical painting will provide the backdrop for the discussion of topics ranging from artistic technique to the Aesthetic Movement’s color palette to the role of frames in the perception of an artwork.
Currently on view at the de Young and SFMOMA are two significant photography exhibitions—Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Dolls and Masks and Francesca Woodman, respectively. In this rare, behind-the-scenes look at the curatorial process, Julian Cox (of the de Young) and Corey Keller (of SFMOMA) discuss the elusive issues of artistic intention and practice, the mythology of the artist, and the position of Meatyard and Woodman in the history of photography.
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
On February 18, The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 opens at the Legion of Honor. This Wednesday, February 1 at 2:30 p.m., the San Francisco Design Center presents The Aesthetic Movement and Interior Design, a panel exploring the movement’s enduring influence on interiors. The discussion will feature exhibition curator Dr. Lynn Federle Orr, design writer and editor Zahid Sardar, interior designer Geoffrey De Sousa and 3D Magazine editor-in-chief, Alisa Carroll.
In advance of this event, Ms. Carroll is today’s guest blogger.
Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler presents the work of an artist who used a variety of materials ranging from metal to clay to create lasting works of art. Working with stoneware and sometimes porcelain, De Staebler built monumental sculptures that pushed the limits of the media and extended the boundaries of how these materials had been used in the past.
The British Aesthetic Movement, which is the subject of the upcoming exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 opening at the Legion of Honor on February 18, promoted the integration of beauty and art into every aspect of life. William Morris (1834–1896) was a chief proponent of the Aesthetic Movement and contributed luxe designs for wallpaper, carpets, tiles, and furniture. His career as a textiles designer, however, quickly surpassed his involvement with all other areas of artistic production.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we present a dynamic work by one of Italy’s most important painters. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s The Empire of Flora is currently on loan to the Allentown Art Museum where it is featured in the special exhibition Shared Treasure: The Legacy of Samuel H. Kress.
The Legion of Honor is currently host to a terrifyingly beautiful bust of The Medusa, on view through February 19. Created by master Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), this nightmare in marble arrives at the museum via the Dream of Rome, a project initiated by the mayor of Rome to exhibit timeless masterpieces in the United States. The Medusa is the inaugural loan in the prestigious partnership between the Fine Arts Museums and Rome’s Capitoline Museum.
Art history places a high premium on originality, especially the singular masterpiece. But there are certain occasions when multiplicity is embraced, including works created as part of a series or cast sculpture and printed materials, which are often produced as one of an edition. It is unusual, however, for a museum to include multiple versions of the same artwork in an exhibition.
Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, on view at the de Young through February 12, 2012, boasts not one, not two, but three variations of Titian’s enigmatic masterwork The Bravo (The Assassin).
Traditionally, exhibitions come with an associated publication, the requisite exhibition catalog. But in the case of Artistic San Francisco (on view at the Legion of Honor through January 22, 2012) this relationship was inverted, and in a surprising twist of fate, a book inspired an exhibition.
So how did this unusual chain of events come about? In early 2010, the Museums’ publications department approached Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts curator Jim Ganz and asked him to make a selection of Bay Area views for a small volume to be co-published with Pomegranate in the fall of 2011. Drawing from the vast holdings of the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum, Ganz carefully chose a wide variety of artworks ranging in style, medium and time period to feature in the publication.
One of the most remarkable moments in Pissarro’s People (on view at the Legion of Honor through January 22, 2012) comes toward the end of the exhibition in the form of an album of pen and ink drawings entitled Turpitudes sociales (“social turpitude,” or disgraces).
Throughout art history, politics have inspired, informed and incited the cultural production of artists throughout the world. In today’s context of social and political unrest, the subject seems particularly relevant. Two major exhibitions in San Francisco and New York currently bookend the country with the art and politics of the radical left. In both Pissarro’s People (on view at the Legion of Honor through January 22, 2012) and Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art (on view at the Museum of Modern Art through May 14, 2012), the political beliefs of the artists are placed front and center.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take into the glamorous world of the Museums' development department with Ashley Stropes Brown, the manager of membership and development events. Originally from Laguna Niguel, California, Ashley has been with the Museums for a little over five years.
Are you still searching for the perfect gifts and best deals? Well, look no further! This week is cyber shopping week at the Fine Arts Museums' online store. Shop an array of unique and artful items exclusive to the Museums' online store, where you'll receive 15% off all regular price merchandise and 20% off our entire stock of holiday cards and calendars through Sunday, December 4!
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
As we simultaneously prepare for Halloween and the opening weekend of Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthisorisches Museum, Vienna (which opens tomorrow, October 29), what better topic to kick off the festivities than a post about the sumptuous tradition of masquerade?
The annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show (SFFAS) has longstanding ties with the Fine Arts Museums, sharing benefactors, lenders, board members, and volunteers, including special project curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Maria Santangelo. For the past several years, Santangelo has donated her curatorial capabilities to the exhibition that serves as the centerpiece of the fair.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
Paper is fundamental to traditional printmaking, but paper as a medium can be as diverse as the images printed on its surface. Surface Tension: Contemporary Prints from the Anderson Collection (on view at the de Young through January 15, 2012) puts paper front and center, exploring the ways in which artists from the late 1960s to today engage paper as more than just a surface.
Though no ink touched the paper in Josef Albers's Embossed Linear Construction series (1969), he used embossing, a traditional printmaking process, to transform ordinary sheets of watercolor paper into subtle bas-relief constructions that extend into the viewer’s space.
Photographs, a ubiquitous component of contemporary life, serve as an ever-evolving record of our lives and those of our friends and family. Children provide an immediate source of inspiration, and many new parents quickly adopt the role of amateur photographer.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques or movements in art.
In 1980, H. McCoy Jones announced that he and his wife, Caroline, would donate his entire private collection of more than six hundred Central Asian carpets to the Fine Arts Museums. Two years later, Cathryn M. Cootner was appointed as the de Young’s first textile curator (her tenure as curator-in-charge would run through 1995). Cootner’s robust acquisition and exhibition program transformed the Museums into a well-respected repository for high quality textiles and oriental rugs. Chief among these was a watershed exhibition of Caroline McCoy-Jones’s unsurpassed collection of Anatolian kilims in 1991. We took a moment to sit down with Cathy Cootner to reflect on the McCoy Joneses and their spectacular kilims twenty years later.
While the museum is closed to the public most Mondays, it welcomes hundreds of students and teachers to visit special exhibitions, such as Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. You may nostalgically remember this kind of field trip as day off from the classroom, but the education department’s school programs team makes the field trip a “day on” for young learners.
You may have heard the term alabaster used to describe the pristine skin of a beautiful woman or the smooth surface of statue, as in the case of The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, on view at the Legion of Honor through December 31.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a monumental kilim that will be featured prominently in the upcoming exhibition The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection, which opens September 10.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
Favorite Things: An Exhibition of Artist Books in Memory of David Logan, 1918–2011, a selection of books from the Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books, is currently on view at the Legion of Honor in through February 12, 2012.
Comprising approximately 300 volumes, the Logan Collection is one of the foremost collections of modern artists’ books (also called livres d’artiste, or illustrated books) to find a home within a museum.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd explore the art historical word gallery to provide you with some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques or movements in art.
In anticipation of The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection (which opens September 10) the Textiles Conservation team is busy at work preparing each rug for display. It is a meticulous and time-consuming process!
First, the kilims have to be taken out of storage. Normal cardboard contains acid that can cause staining on textiles, which is why kilims are rolled onto blue, acid-free cardboard tubes for storage.To avoid harm from dust, the tubes are shrouded in unbleached cotton fabric.
Guest blogger Danica Gomes is an intern in the Public Programs Department.
The art table has become a fixture of Friday Nights at the de Young. Every Friday kids, adults, regulars, and newcomers all crowd around paper-covered tables to take part in the evening’s hands-on art project. The projects are created and led by one of three museum artists, Suzanne Couture, Christian Davies, or Lisa Hubbard, and are always reflective of and inspired by special exhibitions. This summer, drawing on Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the art table has adapted Picasso’s definitive modes of expression and represented themes into activities designed for the general public.
When you enter the exhibition Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection (on view at the Legion of Honor through October 2), you are immediately transported into the Dutch Golden Age.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the tech shop, where preparator Paul Palacios installs the art that makes the galleries and exhibitions you see possible! Originally from Texas, Paul has been with the Museums for almost thirteen years, minus the two he spent working at the Asian Art Museum during the construction of the new de Young.
If you visit the de Young and Legion of Honor this summer, you may be surprised see troupes of young children following teenagers around the galleries. Don’t be alarmed by these lively tours– they are being led by the extremely capable Museum Ambassadors!
Discover the women, the passion and the heartbreak behind Pablo Picasso’s work presented in Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris currently on view at the de Young. Behind every great artist, there is a muse. For Picasso, his romantic relationships provided inspiration for countless paintings, drawings and sculptures.
Friday Nights at the de Young feature special lectures related to current exhibitions at the de Young. This Friday, July 22 Kieran Ridge presents "Picasso and Modern Literature: Liquid Architecture of the Palace of Marvels," a discussion of Picasso as a writer and the influence of contemporary authors and literature in his art. This is the first of three lectures presented in partnership with Alliance Française in celebration of Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris.
Mr. Ridge is chair of the English Department at The Marin School, where he teaches literature and film studies. To pique your interest in this fascinating subject, we have asked Mr. Ridge to answer a few questions about Picasso, the writer!
Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection opens this Saturday, July 9 at the Legion of Honor. In preparation, bone up on your 17th-century history with these fun facts about the Dutch Golden Age and paintings on view in our permanent collection!
ca. 1600 | Wigs and dress trains become fashionable. William Shakespeare writes Hamlet.
1609 | Johannes Kepler announces important laws of planetary motion.
1611 | King James Bible is published.
1612 | Peter Paul Rubens paints The Tribute Money.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the graphic design department, where all of the visual material associated with the Museums (except the art, of course) is created. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Brandon Ballog is a junior graphic designer who has been with the Museums for almost three years.
Picasso was perhaps the greatest innovator of twentieth-century art. The power of Picasso’s invention, however, was deeply influenced by sources from across the art historical spectrum. Chief among these was African art. Drawing upon myriad stylistic resources, Picasso created new modes of expression. The development of this multifaceted artistry is illustrated in several works featured in Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris at the de Young through October 9.
Last week, the Legion of Honor received a special visit from Berkeley High School’s Latin class. This group of thirty-seven seniors took time out of the final, hectic days of high school to see Marvelous Menagerie: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel, which has served as their muse for the past several weeks.
Friday Nights at the de Young feature special lectures related to current exhibitions at the de Young. This Friday, June 24, Public Programs presents Picasso, Our Contemporary by Dakin Hart in conjunction with Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. Hart will discuss elements of Picasso's life and practice after World War II that suggest he may have become interested in what has come to be recognized as contemporary art practice, such as identity performance, the use of sculpture as a bridge between art and life and frank treatments of sex. Dakin Hart began his museum career as assistant to the director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and is currently working as an independent curator and writer in New York while finishing his Ph.D. at the Institute of Fine Arts.
Mr. Hart has graciously answered a few questions for us in preparation for this intriguing lecture!
Friday Nights at the de Young feature lectures related to current exhibitions at the de Young. This Friday, June 17, Public Programs presents Spaniards in France: Cristóbal Balenciaga and Pablo Picasso, a lecture by Dr. James Housefield, a scholar of modern art and design at U.C. Davis. In preparation for this fascinating lecture, Dr. Housefield has graciously answered a few questions to pique your interest!
Museums, like the artworks they house, are constantly evolving. Expanding collections and audiences, outdated facilities, natural phenomena (like earthquakes), or changing building codes can all contribute to a museum’s decision to shutter its doors for lengthy renovations. One museum’s closure, however, is another's golden opportunity, as in the case of this museum! The de Young has recently benefitted from two important museum renovations in Paris: first, the Musée d’Orsay sent us two major exhibitions during its expansive renovations (Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Beyond and Birth of Impressionism) and now the Musée National Picasso brings us Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris opening this Saturday, June 11.
Visitors to Balenciaga and Spain (on view at the de Young through July 4) will immediately notice something different about this installation: music! Melodic notes of Spanish guitar waft through the galleries and draw the viewer further into the exhibition, culminating in the section of the show devoted entirely to the influence of dance. The drama of Spanish dance traditions inspired Balenciaga and can be seen throughout his designs; we hope that the music included in the exhibition does the same for you!
The art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is in itself a type of recycling. Inspired by sumptuous costume and textiles from the past, de Borchgrave recreates some of history’s most iconic fashions in the surprising medium of paper. Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, on view at the Legion of Honor through June 12, displays paper outfits derived from those seen in European paintings, museum collections, photographs, sketches and even literary descriptions. De Borchgrave’s art practice seems particularly relevant in today’s conservation-minded climate in which “recycle and reuse” has become a mantra for artists and fashionistas alike.
Paper fashion was not always associated with such principled objectives. In the late 1960s, when de Borchgrave was just beginning her career, paper dresses captured the cultural zeitgeist not only for their pithy design and novelty, but specifically for their disposability.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums operate. Steven F. Correll is a Registrar who literally makes the "scene" possible by organizing and tracking artwork as it moves through the Museums. Originally from San Diego, CA and Ponca City, OK, Steve has been with the Museums for 4 years.
In 1996 construction workers accidentally uncovered a mosaic while widening a road in the modern Israeli town of Lod, near Tel Aviv. A preliminary excavation immediately conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed that three feet below the modern surface there was a mosaic floor dating to about AD 300. The three most complete and impressive panels from the floor are on view at the Legion of Honor through July 24.
Come celebrate Mother’s Day with the mother culture of Mesoamerica—the Olmec!
It seems fitting that the last opportunity to visit our exhibition on the Olmec is this Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8th. Often referred to as the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica, the Olmec were a lasting influence on Mesoamerican art, culture and civilization. And, like any good mom, their influence is clear in the subsequent, or epi-Olmec, cultures that came after them. Come celebrate with your mom, and make sure to visit the handful of female representations that are here with the exhibition.
Conservators Jacques Neguer and Ghaleb Abu Diab of the Israel Antiquities Authority are visiting from Israel to oversee the conservation and installation of the Lod Mosaic at the Legion of Honor. The mosaic was discovered below the streets of the city of Lod in Israel and arrived to the U.S. in seven panels. This mosaic floor is the centerpiece of the exhibition Marvelous Menagerie: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel, which opens this Saturday, April 23 at the Legion of Honor.
FAM acting head objects conservator Lesley Bone sat down with her two colleagues to discuss the discovery of the mosaic and the conservation treatments they conducted. It is a fascinating conversation that reveals the behind-the-scenes science that goes into an object before it is placed on view and provides a rare glimpse into the way conservators think and talk about works of art.
In case you missed it, here's the archived audio of Balenciaga and Spain guest curator and Vogue European editor-at-large Hamish Bowles as he discussed the exhibition and the life and work of Cristóbal Balenciaga on KQED's Forum.
Arthur Szyk, King George VI, London: 1938. Original watercolor and gouache painting. 7 ½” x 5 ¼”. In original frame with fine French matting. Signed and dated. “Arthur Szyk Pinxit. [Latin: he painted it] London. 1938.”
The Academy Award-nominated film The King’s Speech sheds new light on the life of King George VI. Currently on view in Gallery 1 at the Legion of Honor is a portrait of the king that provides yet another glimpse of the royal.
King George VI was painted by Arthur Szyk in the illuminated style with an intricate, richly designed border pattern and a profusion of traditional iconography representing Great Britain. In this painting, the 43-year-old king is presented in full military uniform before an open window. Behind the window curtain of royal tartan cloth, the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster appear in exquisite miniature. In the upper right corner is a shield representing a composite of the United Kingdom’s symbols. Topped by St. Edward’s crown are: the motto of the Royal Order of the Garter “honi soit qui mal y pense” (evil be to him who evil thinks); the royal motto “Dieu et Mon Droit” (my God and my right); the lion of England and the royal unicorn of Scotland, the royal orb (crown), Scottish lions, and the Irish harp. Within the quarter-inch illuminated border are additional micro-shields with further symbols of the realm, including Scottish thistles, Irish harps and shamrocks.
One of the rarest pieces in our Olmec exhibition at the de Young is a carved human bust made of a tropical variety of cedar tree. Over three thousand years old, the bust has survived this long because it was buried at the bottom of a freshwater bog for most of its life.
Archaeologists believe it was placed in the bog, along with thirty-six other busts, by the Olmec as part of a large offering, probably in response to a long-term problem facing the community, such as a flood or drought. The busts were bundled in vegetable mats and buried along with other objects of high value—some of which are also in the exhibition.
Researchers think the Olmec chose the spring, named El Manatí for a nearby hill and the manatees that were abundant in the area, as a site for important offerings because it represented a culmination of important elements. The Olmec believed water and mountains were imbued with sacred qualities, including fertility, and saw tall hills both as a meeting point between the earth and the sky and as “mansions of the rain god.” The area was also abundant in hematite, an iron-rich red pigment that researchers believe the Olmec associated with blood.
In preperation for the exhibition Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Legion of Honor, artist Isabelle de Borchgrave created five new works inspired by paintings in the European paintings collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Selected by de Borchgrave during a summer 2010 visit to the Legion of Honor, the paintings include Anthony van Dyck's Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child (1634), Massimo Stanzione's Woman in Neapolitan Costume (ca. 1635), Konstantin Makovsky's The Russian Bride's Attire (1889), and Jacob-Ferdinand Voet's late 17th-century Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba.
All five of de Borchgrave's life-sized interpretations are on view in the last gallery of the exhibition. After taking in Pulp Fashion on the Legion's lower level, head upstairs to find three of the four paintings. (The portrait of Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba is not on public view, as it's currently being worked on in our conservation studio.)
Marie Claire de Croy and Child, 2010
Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599–1641), Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child, 1634.
Oil on canvas, 81 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. 58.43
On view in Gallery 14.
Installation of Japanese Books in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books
Go behind the scenes at the Legion of Honor as paper conservators prepare and install 37 rare Japanese books for the exhibition Aspects of Mount Fuji in Japanese Illustrated Books from the Arthur Tress Collection.
Hokusai, Untitled (Fuji Seen from Above the Waves), [detail] from the book
One Hundred Views of Fuji, 1835. Collection of Arthur Tress.
Utagawa Hiroshige, Fuji seen through cherry trees, in the book
One Hundred Views of Fuji (Fujimi Hyakuzu), 1859. Collection of Arthur Tress.
The Chinese artist Shi Guorui produced this photograph of the Donner Pass by creating a pinhole camera obscura. The photographic method is just like the oatmeal container pinhole camera you might have made in grade school, but on a much larger scale. The artist put a single small hole in the side of an otherwise light-sealed semi-trailer truck. The light rays passed through this small hole forming an inverted image on a long, curved sheet of sensitized photographic paper. We were told that the artist meditated during the hours-long exposure time.
At 4 feet 2 inches x 17 feet 2 inches, Donner Pass is one of the largest photographs in the Museums’ collection. Due to its unique size, installation required much advanced planning to come up with a method of hanging that was not only safe for the photograph, but also met the visions of the artist and curators. As the artist preferred the immediacy of the uncovered photograph placed directly on the wall, a tailored system of hinging materials and frame installation methods was devised by the paper conservation laboratory to safely meet this vision.
After much preparation, the day of installation had arrived.
In 2005, Bay Area artist Kay Sekimachi gifted the museum a seminal work, a miniature book—The Wave. The Wave comes from her series of accordion books that were inspired by the Japanese artist Hokusai prints from his own series Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. Woven in natural linen, Sekimachi used a painted-warp technique to imprint the repetitive pattern of the wave on the book’s covers and pages and a double-weave technique to create the accordion folds. The meditative quality of Sekimachi’s work belies the complexity of her techniques. Her work reflects a combination of influences— from the Japanese aesthetic comes her purity of form and reverence of nature and from her early Bauhaus training the control of geometry and symmetry, as well as, the exploration of the double-weave technique.
Jill D'Alessandro, Curator, Textile Arts
Visitors to the exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay can get a look at one of the Fine Arts Museum's newest acquisitions, The Absinthe Drinkers (Les buveurs d'absinthe), 1881, by Jean-François Raffaëlli (French, 1850–1924). The Absinthe Drinkers is widely regarded as among Raffaëlli's most important and accomplished paintings. It can be viewed at the entrance to Birth of Impressionism this summer, but will eventually take up permanent residence in the Legion of Honor's gallery 19.
Although not counted among the Impressionists, the Realist Raffaëlli nonetheless exhibited The Absinthe Drinkers (at the invitation of Degas, who sought to increase the number of figural painters involved) at the sixth Impressionist group show in 1881.There it caused a sensation due to its gritty imagery and portrayal of the devastating effects of addiction to the potent drink absinthe.
Yesterday morning FAMSF director John Buchanan and Musée d'Orsay president Guy Cogeval discussed the exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay, which opens at the de Young Museum tomorrow, May 22, 2010.
In case you missed what some commenters are calling "the best Forum episode ever", you can stil listen online. In fact, we've embedded it in this very blog post! You can access it after the jump.
Birth of Impressionism runs through September 6, 2010. Later on that month, the de Young will host a follow-up show, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay. That exhibition opens September 26 and runs through January 18, 2010.
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.
FAMSF presents Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown in the Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Textile Gallery at the de Young. The exhibition, which runs through June 6, 2010, features 48 full-size and crib quilts that showcase the diversity of the Amish quilt tradition. As an exhibition supplement, the textile education gallery is devoted to quilts and visitors of all ages are invited to create their own quilt patterns using wooden blocks.
Our newest podcast features FAMSF curator of ancient art and interpretation Renee Dreyfus, who talks about the 1979 Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition and the current Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Renee was on the curatorial team for the first Tut exhibition 30 years ago, and now heads up the FAMSF curatorial efforts for the current offering.
Last week a team of journalists and museum staff journeyed to Cairo, Egypt for a week of shooting and research to produce a one-hour documentary and newspaper supplement for our upcoming exhibition,