The de Young has commissioned several leading contemporary artists, including Gerhard Richter, James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy, and Kiki Smith to create site-specific works for the new building.
For the de Young German artist Gerhard Richter has produced a large-scale mural from digitally manipulated photographs that together form a geometric black-and-white motif. The monumental piece, titled Strontium, is constructed of 130 digital prints mounted on aluminum with Plexiglas coating. It is installed in Wilsey Court, the central public gathering space of the new de Young.
California artist James Turrell has created a "Skyspace" for the museum’s Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden. Three Gems, Turrell’s first “Skyspace” in the form of a stupa or dome, is built into a hill within the garden and features a view of the sky altered by lighting effects that will change with light and weather conditions outside.
A third commission by Andy Goldsworthy takes its inspiration from the unique character of California’s tectonic topography. Goldsworthy has created a continuous crack running north from the edge of the Music Concourse roadway in front of the museum, up the main walkway, into the exterior courtyard, and to the main entrance door. Along its path, this crack bisects -- and cleaves in two -- large rough-hewn stone slabs that serve as seating for museum visitors.
Kiki Smith’s large-scale sculpture, a gift of Dorothy and George Saxe and the Friends of New Art, reinterprets David, Joanna, and Abigail Mason (1670) attributed to the Freake-Gibbs Painter from the de Young’s American Paintings Collection. Elements of the piece also evoke the unconventional layout and dramatic copper skin of new de Young.