Exhibitions

What's the Matter: Conserving the Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler

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.

Standing Woman and Standing Man, 1975

Stephen De Staebler, Standing Woman and Standing Man, 1975. Pigmented stoneware and porcelain with surface oxides. Courtesy of Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco. Artwork © Estate of Stephen De Staebler.

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

Accessing Matter and Spirit: The Public Art of Stephen De Staebler

On Saturday, Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler opens at the de Young. Matter + Spirit represents the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work since his death last year.

Stephen De Staebler

FRAME|WORK: The Empire of Flora by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

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.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696–1770). The Empire of Flora, ca. 1743. Oil on canvas. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. 61.44.19

The Metamorphosis of Medusa

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.

Medusa projected onto the facade of the Legion of Honor

A Tale of Three Titians

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).

Two Bravos

Artistic San Francisco Looks Good on Paper

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.

Turpitudes Sociales Occupies the Legion of Honor

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).

Title page

Turpitudes sociales, 1889–1890. Thirty pen and brown ink over graphite drawings on paper pasted in an album. Album: 12 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (31 x 24 cm). Collection of Jean Bonna, Geneva. Photo by Patrick Goetelen, Geneva, courtesy of Jean Bonna.

Art of the Radical Left (Coast)

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.

Pissarro Harvest

Camille Pissarro. The Harvest, 1882. Tempera on canvas. 27 11/16 x 49 9/16 in. The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, donated by the heirs of Mr. Kojiro Matsukata, P.1984-3

Will Work for Art: Ashley Stropes Brown

"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.

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