Exhibitions

A Band Apart: Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Francesca Woodman

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.

Meatyard Woodman

Left: Ralph Eugene Meatyard (American, 1925–1972). Untitled, ca. 1960–1962. Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, John Pritzker Fund. 2011.4.1. Right: Francesca Woodman (American, 1958–1981). My House, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy George and Betty Woodman. x2011.467.032

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

Art for Art's Sake at Design San Francisco

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.

Sideboard, 1865–75

Edward William Godwin, Sideboard, 1865–75, ebonized mahogany with silver plated handles © V&A Images

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.

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