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Blog Category: collections

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

May 8, 2014

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

April 30, 2014

Art History: An Immersive Education

“The museum is a perfect environment within which to study art, there is none better,” says Dr. Maria Cheremeteff, professor of art history at City College of San Francisco.

Slides are projected onto a screen in a darkened old-fashioned theater

Art History 102: Western Art History, Byzantine Empire to 1800 taught in the Florence Gould Theater

April 10, 2014

Slow Art Day at the de Young and Legion of Honor

On Saturday, April 12, the de Young, the Legion of Honor, and dozens of other museums and galleries around the world will participate in Slow Art Day. Like the National Day of Unplugging, which encourages people to power down their smartphones and socialize face-to-face, Slow Art Day’s mission is to enable new connections with art that otherwise might be lost in the everyday blur of activity.

March 24, 2014

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

March 13, 2014

Q&A with January Artist-in-Residence John Zaklikowski

January Artist-in-Residence John Zaklikowski has titled his residency Culture and Physics Collide, an apt description for his artwork which utilizes a wide variety of technological materials and meets at the intersection of art and science. His large-scale assemblages investigate notions of perception and optical illusion, illustrating the interplay of art, science, literature, and cultural studies. 

January 21, 2014

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

December 17, 2013

Animation Collaboration

This post was written by Erica Wong and Brinker Ferguson

Digital media interpretive fellow Brinker Ferguson and graphic designer Erica Wong recently worked together to create a 2D animation geared toward school-age children in association with The Salon Doré: Conservation of a Period Room. One of the first endeavors of its kind at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this animation was put together jointly by Brinker and Erica. This is their story.

December 10, 2013

Q&A with November Artist-in-Residence Ana Teresa Fernandez

November Artist-in-Residence Ana Teresa Fernandez enacts and participates in the intersection of politics and personal identity through painting, performance, and video. Her work illuminates the barriers, both psychological and physical, that confine and divide gender, race, and class in western society and the global south.

A woman dressed in black climbing over a metal fence.
Borrando Frontera by Ana Teresa Fernandez

November 8, 2013

A Conservation Triumph: 1994–2013

For the first time ever, three prized tapestries from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection will be exhibited together in the Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1. The entire series, known as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues, consists of seven tapestries that depict allegorical representations of the theological virtues—Faith, Hope, and Charity—and the cardinal virtues—Temperance, Prudence, Justice, and Fortitude. While 10 museums in Europe, the United States, and Russia possess tapestries from this series, the Fine Arts Museums have The Triumph of Fortitude, The Triumph of Prudence, and the only extant example of The Triumph of Justice.

The monumental tapestry (and the only one of its kind) The Triumph of Justice

Triumph of Justice from The Triumph of the Seven Virtues Series, ca. 1535. Belgium, Brussels, Flemish. Wool, silk; tapestry weave. Gift of The William Randolph Hearst Foundation. 1957.125

August 29, 2013

A Summer of Art Comes to an End

This post was submitted by Ashley Harris.

Inspiration abounded during the de Young’s 2013 Summer Art Camp as young artists created incredible works centered on the themes of animals in art and large-scale sculpture during the camp’s final weeks. Campers showed off their talents in drawing, painting, and collage as they studied animal forms within the de Young collections, crafting pieces that displayed their careful observations and panache for materials. SCULPTacular week proved to be the most exciting week yet as art campers studied and constructed three-dimensional pieces that investigated the ideas of space, movement, and scale.

Summer Art Campers created clay animals

August 26, 2013

3D Printing a Custom Support for an 18th-century French Clock

3D scanning and printing have made their mark on popular culture in the past couple of years with eye-catching headlines like “Researchers Closing in on Printing 3D Hearts” and “Tools of Modern Gunmaking.” Many museums have also started using 3D printing to foster greater engagement and creativity between their visitors and collections. As a cultural institution, one of the main challenges when experimenting with new technologies is to understand and evaluate how it can be used to benefit or bolster our collection and mission, and try to get beyond the initial “whoa—that’s cool!” factor.

The MakerBot

August 23, 2013

Ruth Asawa (1926–2013)

SAN FRANCISCO (August 7, 2013) —The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are saddened by the loss of Ruth Aiko Asawa, who died on August 6, 2013, at the age of 87. Asawa was a groundbreaking modernist sculptor with whom the Museums enjoyed a long-standing relationship. An internationally exhibited artist, teacher, arts advocate, and Museum trustee, she leaves a remarkable legacy.

August 7, 2013

Cracking the Conservation of a Curious Contemporary Construction

In 2004 artist Matthew Picton laid a sheet of plastic over the cracks in the asphalt of a playground. He traced the cracks and painted them with black enamel paint. Then he carefully cut and burned away the plastic surrounding the cracks. What was left was a giant spidery web.

A conservator installing the web-like construction by Mattew Picton

August 6, 2013

Stories in Art from the de Young Summer Art Camp

This blog post was submitted by Ashley Harris.

It’s summertime at the de Young, which means that the museum’s Summer Art Camp is in full swing and the Hamon Education Tower has been filled with talented young artists and creative energy. During week one, campers explored the theme of “Mixed Media Madness,” creating pieces that incorporated a range of materials and techniques including oil pastel and watercolor resist, splatter painting, masking, and plein air ink wash paintings. The incredible art making continued into week two as campers studied works in the de Young’s permanent collection and crafted their own pieces centered around the idea of “Stories in Art.”

Art inspired by the Japanese Tea Garden

July 17, 2013

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

June 6, 2013

Museums and Art Fairs: The Inside Story

Spring in San Francisco brings with it a season of art fairs, including artMRKT whose opening night preview reception this Thursday, May 16 benefits the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s newly created New Acquisitions Fund. Featuring 70 galleries from around the globe, artMRKT provides a unique opportunity for museum professionals and art enthusiasts to gather, discuss, and view the world’s premier contemporary and modern art. This year, artMRKT includes a series of special lectures presented by several of our own curators, including Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art. We sat down with Ms. Acker to discuss the relationship between art fairs and museums, such as the de Young and the Legion of Honor.

Assistant curator of American art, Emma Acker

Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art

May 14, 2013

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

May 13, 2013

A Trompe-l'oeil Traveler

One of the most exciting aspects of working in paper conservation at the Legion of Honor is the variety of objects encountered on a daily basis. When working on a 17th-century print, for example, conservation intern Laura Neufeld faced many traditional paper conservation challenges. Pier Gustafson’s Father’s Suitcase, on the other hand, is a one-of-a kind artwork that required unique treatment solutions.

May 10, 2013

Stella!!!

Step into Gallery 14 at the de Young and you will immediately encounter the riot of geometric color that is Frank Stella’s impressive 12-foot-square painting, Lettre sur les aveugles II (1974). This vibrant new acquisition represents the first of Stella’s paintings to enter the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

April 25, 2013

Behind the Scenes: De-installing the Salon Doré

Almost as soon as the Salon Doré was de-installed from Gallery 11 late last year, the comprehensive conservation and restoration project began (and continues today in full view of the public in Gallery 13). Before a single component of the room was removed, however, months of planning and research went into readying the Salon Doré for this massive undertaking.

March 6, 2013

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.

February 12, 2013

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

February 7, 2013

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

January 28, 2013

Contemporary Tradition: Melissa Cody Visits the de Young’s Navajo Textile Collection

Like any artist, December Artist-in-Residence Melissa Cody diligently does her research, and like a true innovator, she’s aware that you need to know the rules in order to break them. A fourth-generation Navajo weaver, Cody’s residency focuses on weaving and its relationship to communities and their environments. Although the main part of her residency takes place in public, she is also conducting research behind the scenes at the de Young.

Melissa Cody

December 21, 2012

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

November 7, 2012

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

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

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin

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

October 31, 2012

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

October 26, 2012

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.

October 3, 2012

FAMSF Portraits Featured in Set for San Francisco Opera

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

Kremer Image

Image by Naomie Kremer

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

September 18, 2012

Off the Walls in Z Space

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

Z Space B_W

Photo by Adrian Arias

September 11, 2012

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

August 22, 2012

#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

August 14, 2012

The Power of Painting and Printmaking at the de Young Summer Art Camp

Guest blogger Kelsey Linton takes us inside the de Young Summer Art Camp where we catch up with the Apprentices, Artisans, and Muses and Masters as they learn about this week’s theme, "The Power of Painting and Printmaking."

In gallery

August 10, 2012

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.

August 9, 2012

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.

August 8, 2012

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

August 4, 2012

Influences and Inspiration at the de Young Summer Art Camp

As guest blogger Kelsey Linton reports, this week at the de Young Summer Art camp, the goal was to encourage our campers to examine the sources of their creativity with the theme "Influences and Inspirations". Each day of class focused on a new artistic medium or a particular artist's work, which made this one of the busiest weeks yet! The Masters, the oldest group of the campers; the Artisans, the middle age group; and the Apprentices, the youngest group, all gathered

August 2, 2012

Off the Walls: A Work in Progress

One of the most innovative components of the Artist Fellows program is the goal to reveal the process of artistic creation—the weeks (even years) of planning, the evolving ideas, and the constant back-and-forth that foments creativity. Throughout the month of July, Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson and her artistic partners, Catch Me Bird (C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev), have been exhibiting this collaborative process as they work together to produce Off the Walls. A multimedia performance that melds Wilson’s dynamic jazz-oriented music with Catch Me Bird’s dance and aerial performances, Off the Walls is inspired by the painter Aaron Douglas, whose painting Aspiration is a highlight of the de Young’s American painting collection.

Sarah Wilson and Catch Me Bird

Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson with C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev of Catch Me Bird

July 27, 2012

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

July 24, 2012

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

July 21, 2012

Love Letters from the Harlem Renaissance Through the Generations

Love Letters from the Harlem Renaissance tells the story of the relationship between Alta Sawyer Douglas and her husband, Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas. Catch Me Bird’s C. Derrick Jones, the great nephew of this seminal American painter, shares his family’s story with guest blogger Elspeth Michaels. Tonight at Friday Nights at the de Young Jones will speak about the factors that propelled his great uncle to establish himself as one of the 20th century's visionary artists. This fall Catch Me Bird, in collaboration with Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson, will premiere a brand new production inspired by the art of Douglas entitled Off the Walls. The performance combines music, aerials, and dance as an expression of Douglas's painting Aspiration, which is currently on view in Wilsey Court.

Aspiration

Aaron Douglas (American, 1899–1979). Aspiration, 1936. Oil on canvas. 1997.84

July 20, 2012

Forty Years of Keith

The year 2012 represents a milestone for Chuck Close, the Crown Point Press, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s works on paper department, the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. Chuck Close and Crown Point Press: Prints and Processes, the special exhibition currently on view in the Anderson Gallery, honors these lasting relationships.

Keith1

Trial proof for Keith, 1972. Mezzotint. Crown Point Press Archive, Museum purchase, Bequest of Whitney Warren, Jr. in memory of Mrs. Adolph B. Spreckels. 1991.28.98

July 10, 2012

Mixed Media Madness at the de Young Summer Art Camp

The de Young's annual Summer Art Camp has begun! Each week throughout the summer, we'll be sharing posts about the amazing activities and artworks our creative campers are doing. Here's the scoop from week one, submitted by guest blogger Ashley Harris.

June 28, 2012

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.

June 26, 2012

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

June 11, 2012

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

June 7, 2012

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

June 6, 2012

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

June 5, 2012

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

May 31, 2012

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

May 30, 2012

FRAME|WORK: Mrs. Robert S. Cassatt, the Artist's Mother by Mary Cassatt

In celebration of Mary Cassatt’s birthday yesterday, this week’s FRAME|WORK—a weekly blog series highlighting an artwork in the Museums’ permanent collection—features the artist’s penetrating portrait of her mother, Mrs. Robert S. Cassatt, the Artist’s Mother (ca. 1889). This painting is currently on view in Gallery 28 at the de Young.

Mrs. Robert S. Cassatt

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926). Mrs. Robert S. Cassatt, the Artist's Mother, ca. 1889. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase, William H. Noble Bequest Fund. 1979.35

May 23, 2012

Conservation in 3D: Skype, Stereographs and Silicon

Recently one of the Museums’ most generous supporters, Dorothy Saxe, purchased a sculpture for the collection in memory of our late director John E. Buchanan. Created by contemporary glass artist Beth Lipman, Candlesticks, Books, Flowers and Fruit (2010) is a complex compilation of multiple elements balanced precariously on a table. My role as an objects conservator is to ensure that all the elements of this fragile sculpture are installed safely and in keeping with the artist’s original intent.

May 18, 2012

FRAME|WORK: The Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series highlighting an artwork in the Museums’ permanent collection. This week, we feature an unusual treasure in the Legion of Honor—it is unusual because it’s not a painting or a sculpture, but rather an entire room. The Salon Doré, an 18th-century French period room, is currently on view.

May 15, 2012

Carrie Cottini Will Work for Art!

We are happy to announce the return of Will Work for Art, a series of interviews featuring the incredibly diverse group of people who work here at the Fine Arts Museums! This week, we introduce you to Carrie Cottini, the acting member council administrator. Originally from Sacramento, Carrie has been with the Museums for four years as of this week. Happy anniversary, Carrie!

Carrie Cottini

May 15, 2012

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

May 11, 2012

Mystery Glass Negatives from Land's End

Before there were digital image files and even before there was film, photographers captured images on glass plate negatives. In the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco there are over seventy of these glass plate negatives depicting scenes of Land’s End and old San Francisco. Discovered in the basement of the old de Young, these century-old negatives were in desperate need of cleaning and re-housing. When the negatives came into the paper conservation lab at the Legion of Honor for proper care, the labor intensive project proved a perfect opportunity for pre-program conservation student Jennifer Martinez.

Foundation of Cliff House

Foundation of Cliff House, c. 1895

May 10, 2012

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.

May 4, 2012

FRAME|WORK: Untitled XX by Willem de Kooning

Yesterday was the birthday of renowned Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. Today’s FRAME|WORK—a weekly blog series highlighting an artwork in the permanent collection—features de Kooning’s 1977 painting, Untitled XX, which is currently on view in Gallery 15 at the de Young Museum.

Untitled XX

Willem de Kooning (American, 1904–1997). Untitled XX, 1977. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase, gift of Nan Tucker McEvoy. 2002.1

April 25, 2012

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

April 19, 2012

FRAME|WORK: Untitled (Portals of the Past) by Arnold Genthe

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums permanent collections. Today we commemorate the 1906 earthquake and ensuing fire that ravaged the majority of San Francisco. Arnold Genthe’s Untitled (Portals of the Past), a jewel of the Museums’ photography collection, provides a look back at that dark day. This photograph is currently not on display, so please enjoy this exclusive virtual viewing.

Portals of the Past

Arnold Genthe (American, b. Prussia, 1869–1942). Untitled (Portals of the Past), 1906 (printed 1956). Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, James D. Phelan Bequest Fund. 1943.407.130.2

April 18, 2012

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.

April 13, 2012

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

April 11, 2012

FRAME|WORK: Children’s story (water dreaming for two children) by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a painting by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, a member of the Papunya Tula artist collective. Children’s story (water dreaming for two children) is currently on loan to Australia's National Gallery of Victoria.

Water Dreaming

Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula (Pintupi/Luritja, 1925–2001). Children’s story (water dreaming for two children), 1972. Australia, Western Desert, Papunya Tula settlement. Pressboard, tempera pigment. Gift of the Gantner Myer Aboriginal Art Collection. 2002.70.2

April 4, 2012

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

April 2, 2012

FRAME|WORK: A Chasuble from 18th-century France

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature two exquisite 18th-century French liturgical vestments, a chasuble and a dalmatic, from the Museums’ permanent collections. Unfortunately, these garments are not currently on view, but please enjoy this exclusive virtual viewing!

Chasuble

Chasuble and Dalmatic, ca. 1700–1710. France, probably Paris. Silk, metallic thread; cut velvet, embroidery (laid work, couching, padded couching). Museum purchase, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2004.9.1.1–2

March 28, 2012

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

March 27, 2012

FRAME|WORK: A Panel with a Vase of Flowers Attributed to Matteo Nigetti

FRAME | WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a finely crafted work of European decorative art from 17th-century Florence, currently on display in Gallery 5 at the Legion of Honor.

March 21, 2012

FRAME|WORK: At Sea, Japan by Jennifer Bartlett

Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Japan’s tragic earthquake and tsunami. Today marks the birthday of Jennifer Bartlett, whose opus, At Sea, Japan, was inspired by Japanese artistic traditions and is highlighted in this week’s FRAME | WORK . This work is currently not on view, so we hope you enjoy At Sea, Japan as we reflect on Japan’s recovery and resilience.

March 13, 2012

Museum Without Walls: Sarah Wilson and Catch Me Bird Go Off the Walls

The blog series Museum Without Walls features de Young Artist Fellows working outside of the museum with other artists and local, community based arts organizations. In this edition, we catch up with Sarah Wilson and Catch Me Bird at their Djerassi alumni artist residency where they gave us a glimpse into the early stages of their creative process.

March 1, 2012

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

February 24, 2012

FRAME|WORK: George Washington by Rembrandt Peale

FRAME | WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. On Monday, the Museums were closed in observance of Presidents Day and today is the birthday of American painter Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860). In honor of these two occasions, we feature Peale’s iconic portrait of George Washington, which is currently on display in Gallery 27 at the de Young.

February 22, 2012

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

February 6, 2012

FRAME|WORK: Untitled (Stack) by Peter Voulkos

Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler , currently on view at the de Young, presents a retrospective of the artist’s work. This week’s FRAME | WORK draws attention to De Staebler’s mentor, Peter Voulkos. A renowned sculptor and teacher, Voulkos was hugely influential

February 1, 2012

Bird Bath: The Conservation of a William Morris Textile

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.

Bird wall hanging, 1878

William Morris (English, 1834–1896). Bird wall hanging, 1878 (detail). Wool jacquard woven doublecloth. Museum purchase, Art Trust Fund. 1996.47

January 23, 2012

FRAME|WORK: A Statue of Asklepios from Hellenistic Greece

The subject of quality health care has dominated political rhetoric for decades, but the issue has been of interest for centuries. This week’s FRAME | WORK examines one of the earliest manifestations of the power of medicine in the form of the Statue of Asklepios currently on view in the Hall of Antiquities at the Legion of Honor.

January 18, 2012

Museum Without Walls: Sarah Wilson

This month, the de Young begins its second installment of the Artist Fellows program, which brings working artists from a variety of disciplines into the museum for a year. During this year, Artist Fellows will break open their art process by exhibiting works-in-progress and investigating new avenues of creativity through collaboration with the museum, partner institutions and other artists.

Each artist is associated with a collaborating institutional partner, an aspect of the program specifically designed to encourage museum engagement with local, community based arts organizations. Working both within and without the walls, the Artist Fellows will inhabit a new kind of museum, one without walls. In celebration of this next phase of the Artist Fellows program, we will focus on these extra-museum collaborations in a blog series called Museum Without Walls.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson. Photo © Lenny Gonzalez 2010

January 17, 2012

A Tour with Trevor

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” With this in mind, we recently toured the de Young with a precocious eight-year-old named Trevor to learn what we could about the experience of the museum and its art from a child’s perspective. Needless to say, we learned a lot.

December 9, 2011

Meet the de Young Family

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season when we reflect on what we value most in life: family. Family is also the focus of Artist Fellow Kevin Epps’s documentary Fam Bam, which critically examines the structure of the black family in America and premieres this Friday Night at the de Young.

In keeping with this theme, the final Friday Night of the season will host a San Francisco family reunion, de Young style. Share the de Young with your loved ones by taking this self-guided tour through the permanent collection to see how artists from around the world and throughout history have depicted the age-old subject of family.

Start your tour in Gallery 12 just off of Wilsey Court, where you will enter the mysterious world of Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Masks and Dolls. Meatyard's family, although often masked, served as the primary model for the photographer. Focusing on childhood and familial relationships, Meatyard sought to reveal the emotional reality of universal experiences.

Ambrose Bierce, 1964. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery.

November 25, 2011

Art Students Draw Inspiration from Museum Masterpieces

The academic tradition of learning to draw by imitating the works of established masters has been alive for centuries. Professor Rick Rodrigues has been bringing this rich tradition the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since 1995, when he initiated a partnership between the City College of San Francisco and the Museums. Professor Rodrigues's drawing classes cover a variety of skills and techniques, ranging from basic life-drawing using models and tone-drawing to more obscure old-master techniques, such as silverpoint drawing or staining with tea or coffee. His much-beloved classes are a deeply fulfilling experience, giving  young artists the opportunity to learn from art history's old masters directly in the museum setting.

Visitors are always welcome to sketch in the Museums' permanent collection galleries. Sketching in special exhibition galleries is by permission only and subject to lender and gallery restrictions. Please see our museum policies for more information.

Sketching in the Rodin Gallery at the Legion of Honor

City College San Francisco Students sketching in the Rodin Gallery at the Legion of Honor.

Education intern Megan Friel recently sat down with Professor Rodrigues, who is still passionately committed to the academic tradition of museum drawing after 16 years of teaching, to discuss his experiences directing the program.

September 1, 2011

The Kilims Are Coming!

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.

August 18, 2011

FRAME|WORK: A ceremonial hanging from the Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Department of Textile Arts

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a superb example of Indonesian weaving from the Textiles Department. This new acquisition is not currently on display, so we hope you enjoy this virtual viewing!

Ceremonial hanging (palepai), 19th century
Indonesia, Sumatra, Lampung
Handspun cotton; plain weave with supplementary-weft patterning
330 x 69 cm (129 15/16 x 27 3/16 in.)
Museum Purchase, Textile Arts Council Endowment Fund and the Nasaw Family Foundation Fund, 2010.1

May 17, 2011