Blog Posts: June 2011

Will Work for Art: Brandon Ballog

"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.

Follow that Art! Six-Sided Planes Gets a Makeover by Paintings Conservation

Last week Balcomb Greene’s Six-Sided Planes made its first entry into the Museums and the acquisitions process via the registration department. This week, the painting heads upstairs to the paintings conservation lab for a little makeover.

My name is Elise Effmann and I’m an associate paintings conservator at the Fine Arts Museums. Conservators are entrusted with the care, treatment and technical study of artworks in the collection. When a painting comes to the Museums as a proposed acquisition, our department must examine it to provide the curators with information about how it was made, and to determine if there are any potential problems with the acquisition due to its condition.

Picasso and African Art at the de Young!

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.

The Lod Mosaic as Muse for Berkeley High School Seniors!

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.

Under Wraps: The furniture at the Legion gets custom-made covers

For the last several months, Textile Conservation volunteers Kathy Murphy, Jean Scardina, intern Erica Storm and Objects Conservation volunteer Tegan Broderick have all been hard at work making covers for the furniture stored at the Legion of Honor. While most of the chairs were already stored beneath loose-fitting pieces of cloth, custom covers provide the objects with better protection from light and dust. Clearly labeled covers also facilitate quick identification of the objects underneath and prevent unnecessary handling.

FRAME|WORK: El Aborto (Frida and the Miscarriage) by Frida Kahlo

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful lithograph created by the formidable Frida Kahlo. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided this exclusive virtual viewing!

Special Preview of Friday Night's Lecture with Dakin Hart

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!

Follow that Art! Balcomb Greene's Six-Sided Planes comes to the de Young

Every piece of art in the Museums has a history. Whether an artwork has a long and storied past or was recently created by a living artist, its journey doesn’t end when it arrives on our doorstep. 

This is the first in a series of posts that will follow a single work of art, Balcomb Greene’s painting Six-Sided Planes, as it moves through the Museums on its way to exhibition. Greene was an artist and intellectual, a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, and a leading writer and proponent of abstraction.

We will follow the painting’s progress from its first entrance into the Museums via the registration department, through the conservation and curatorial review, onto the process of approval by the Board of Trustees, and finally the public display of the painting in the galleries.

Our first stop is the registration department, where the painting is first received and stored:


Balcomb Greene (American, 1904–1990). Six-Sided Planes, 1937. Oil on canvas. Potential Museum Purchase. L11.16

Will Work for Art: Clara Hatcher

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we feature a member of the frontline. Clara Hatcher works as the de Young receptionist and supports the visitor services and marketing departments. Originally from Ithaca, New York, Clara has been with the Museums for three years.

FRAME|WORK: An imperial tea service by Peter Carl Fabergé

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite tea service from Russia made by Peter Carl Fabergé currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

A Sneak Peek at Friday Nights at the de Young with Dr. James Housefield

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!

FRAME|WORK: A vessel in the shape of a lion from ancient Anatolia

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an ancient terracotta drinking vessel in the shape of a lion from Turkey, currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

From Paris, With Love

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.

Will Work for Art: Chris Bennett

 "Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. In this case, we go behind the counter to meet Chris Bennett, the de Young Café Manager. Originally from San Clemente, CA, Chris has been with the Museums for four years.

Conserving Louise Nevelson’s "Ocean Gate"

As a follow up to our last post about the conservator’s role in dealing with artistic intent, the Objects Conservation Department has been working with outdoor sculpture contractors from Tracy Power Conservation to conserve the Louise Nevelson sculpture Ocean Gate. The sculpture is located at the south corner of the Osher Sculpture Garden at the de Young.


Louise Nevelson (American, 1900–1988)
Ocean Gate, 1982
Aluminum and black paint
145 11/16 x 81 7/8 x 68 1/8 in.
Museum purchase, gift of Barbro and Bernard A. Osher, 2002.72a-f

FRAME|WORK: A seven-headed bush spirit from Nigeria

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a life-size sculpture depicting a Nigerian bush spirit, currently on view in the African gallery at the de Young.


Shrine figure or bush spirit with seven heads, 20th century
Nigeria, Cross River, Ijo people
Wood, glass eyes, paint
172.7 x 35.6 x 45.7 cm (68.5 x 14.5 x 18 in.)
Museum purchase, gift of Phyllis C. Wattis and the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions
2004.93