Blog Category: collections
When I joined the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as an intern nearly a year ago, I was charged with the dream-of-a-lifetime task of adding works from the de Young’s collection to the Google Art Project, an online collections database.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You know that saying “It’s always five o’clock somewhere?” Well, this week it’s Friday everyday! We’re bringing you five days of Friday to showcase the amazing events taking place this (and every) Friday Night at the de Young through November 23.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series highlighting an artwork in the Museums’ permanent collection. This week we take a closer look at Claude Monet’s impressionist depictiion of the Grand Canal in Venice, from 1908.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
Last month we featured John Roddam Stanhope’s Love and the Maiden in FRAME|WORK, which served as the first in a series of blog posts that will demonstrate key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through this singular painting. In this installment, curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron examines how Stanhope's use of tempera paint contributed to the aesthetic of the Victorian avant-garde.
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite bas-relief of a gift bearer from ancient Persia, currently on view in the Hall of Antiquities at the Legion of Honor.
Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 opens tomorrow at the de Young. Although the primary subject of the exhibition is the city we call home, many of the locations represented in the pictures were difficult to pin point. During his preparations for the exhibition, curator James Ganz tried to track down some of the more mysterious sites portrayed, which resulted in a San Francisco adventure of his own.
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.
The integration of art and beauty into every aspect of life was one of the foremost tenets of the Aesthetic Movement. Artists who subscribed to this ideal stepped outside of the confines of their medium of choice and experimented with all variety of design: painters became furniture designers and architects designed textiles. This week’s FRAME|WORK features two luscious tapestries from the Museums’ permanent collections included in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17). Created by Edward Burne-Jones for Morris & Co., Flora and Pomona exemplify the aesthetics of the Aesthetic Movement.
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
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.
This week’s FRAME|WORK, featuring John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s luscious Love and the Maiden, will serve as the first in a series of posts examining a variety of themes present throughout the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (opening this Saturday, February 18). Stanhope’s allegorical painting will provide the backdrop for the discussion of topics ranging from artistic technique to the Aesthetic Movement’s color palette to the role of frames in the perception of an artwork.
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. Later this week, the San Francisco Tribal and Textile Arts Show opens at Fort Mason. In that spirit, we feature an outstanding new acquisition, Lidded vessel in the form of a turtle shell, currently on display at the de Young in Gallery 2.
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
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
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we feature a classic photograph by Pierre Dubreuil. If you missed Eléphantaisie when it was on view in Impressionist Paris: City of Light, you will no doubt enjoy this virtual viewing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The New Year presents a much-needed opportunity for reflection and renewal. Looking towards the future, New Year’s resolutions often promise some variation of transformation as we aim to improve ourselves and our lives. Transformation is also the focus of this week’s FRAME|WORK, which features Susie Silook’s Sedna with Mask. This artwork is currently on display in the Art of the Americas gallery at the de Young.
If you’re fretting over what frock to wear on New Year's Eve, this week’s FRAME|WORK provides some inspiration from the “Dean of American Fashion.” Sure to invite some resolution-worthy dance moves, Norman Norell’s Woman's Evening Dress is nothing if not celebratory. This dress is not currently on view, so we hope you enjoy this exclusive virtual viewing.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we meet museum educator and "Mr. Friday Night," Gregory Stock. Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, Gregory just celebrated his one-year anniversary as a full-time employee at the Museums.
For many, the winter holidays are as much about eating as they are about gifting! Today’s FRAME|WORK features Wayne Thiebaud’s iconic Candy Apples, a delicious reminder to eat and love well this holiday season.
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. As we approach the Christmas holiday, it seems only appropriate to examine one of the many works in the European Decorative Arts and Sculpture department that deals with the subject of the Holy Family. This poignant Virgin and Child with Putti by Andrea della Robbia is currently on display in Gallery 4 at 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).
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. Tomorrow is the 125th anniversary of Diego Rivera’s birth, so this week we feature his iconic Two Women and a Child, which is currently on display at the de Young.
"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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, with the holiday shopping frenzy upon us, we feature a depiction of ancient Egyptian gift giving in the Relief from the Tomb of Mentuemhet, currently on view at the Legion of Honor.
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.
Tomorrow, most of us will sit down with family and friends to enjoy a cornucopia of Thanksgiving comestibles that will leave many satiated to the point of sickness. In preparation, this week’s FRAME|WORK takes a closer look at Edward Weston’s Halved Cabbage, whose beauty and detail give new meaning to the concept of good taste.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we feature an extraordinary contemporary piece of Pueblo pottery born out of centuries-old traditions. Jacob Koopee's seed jar is currently on display at the de Young.
Claude Monet’s incomparable Water Lilies has returned to Gallery 19 at the Legion of Honor! Following its display in two important temporary exhibitions, Water Lilies visited the Fine Arts Museums’ paintings conservation laboratory. In celebration of Monet’s birthday today, here is a behind-the-scenes look at the painting’s whereabouts over the past year.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we feature an intimate picture by Édouard Manet currently on display in Gallery 19 at the Legion of Honor.
Both the de Young and the San Francisco Symphony have been fixtures on the San Francisco arts and culture scene for over a century, the de Young originating from the 1894 Midwinter Fair and the Symphony celebrating an auspicious 100th anniversary this year. Our two institutions have a history of collaboration and cooperation, the most notable of which is the loan of the Fine Arts Museums’ priceless 18th-century Guarnerius violin—a bequest of famed musician Jascha Heifetz—to the symphony, where it is played by concertmaster Alexander Barantschik during performances at Davies Symphony Hall and the Legion of Honor’s Florence Gould Theater.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. Today we honor the culture of Día de los Muertos with a print from master Mexican graphic artist José Guadalupe Posada. This artwork is currently not on display, so we hope you enjoy this exclusive virtiual viewing.
"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 intriguing world of frame conservation to meet Natasa Morovic (imagine an “h” after the “s” in her first name, and after the “c” in her last name, and you get the right pronunciation). Natasa is the associate frames conservator working in Paintings Conservation. Originally from Slovenia, she has worked with the Museums for fourteen years!
As we simultaneously prepare for Halloween and the opening weekend of Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthisorisches Museum, Vienna (which opens tomorrow, October 29), what better topic to kick off the festivities than a post about the sumptuous tradition of masquerade?
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, in a joint celebration of Halloween and the imminent opening of Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power, we feature an extraordinary mask fan from the department of Textile Arts.
The annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show (SFFAS) has longstanding ties with the Fine Arts Museums, sharing benefactors, lenders, board members, and volunteers, including special project curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Maria Santangelo. For the past several years, Santangelo has donated her curatorial capabilities to the exhibition that serves as the centerpiece of the fair.
The Artist-in-Residence program resumes this month in the Kimball Education Gallery with Glenda Joyce Hape, a Māori artist from New Zealand. Glenda is a weaver who combines traditional and contemporary techniques and materials to create Māori kakahu, or cloaks. We recently sat down with Glenda to discuss her background, practice, and inspiration.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exemplary Māori cloak from the Museums’ inaugural collections (currently on display at the de Young) in honor of the October Artist-in-Residence, Māori weaver Glenda Joyce Hape.
Clothes tell a story. Here at the Fine Arts Museums, our closets are filled with gowns, costumes, and accessories worn by countless cultural icons of days gone by. Today we give you a rare glimpse into our vaults as we reveal some of the most famous skeletons in our closet!
We don’t have any top hats, white ties or tails worn by the light-as-air Mr. Astaire, but we do have this bright red Chinese costume (with shoes!) that he wore in the “Limehouse Nights” sequence of MGM’s film Ziegfeld Follies, 1944.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
Paper is fundamental to traditional printmaking, but paper as a medium can be as diverse as the images printed on its surface. Surface Tension: Contemporary Prints from the Anderson Collection (on view at the de Young through January 15, 2012) puts paper front and center, exploring the ways in which artists from the late 1960s to today engage paper as more than just a surface.
Though no ink touched the paper in Josef Albers's Embossed Linear Construction series (1969), he used embossing, a traditional printmaking process, to transform ordinary sheets of watercolor paper into subtle bas-relief constructions that extend into the viewer’s space.
Photographs, a ubiquitous component of contemporary life, serve as an ever-evolving record of our lives and those of our friends and family. Children provide an immediate source of inspiration, and many new parents quickly adopt the role of amateur photographer.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a lively lush from ancient Etruria, currently on display in the Hall of Antiquities on the lower level of the Legion of Honor.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an iconic photograph by renowned Bay Area photographer Imogen Cunningham. Magnolia Blossom is currently not on view, so take some time to stop and smell the flowers (virtually)!
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we introduce you to the fabulous Christopher Lentz, Manager of Visitor Services and Volunteer Programs. Originally from Nashville (by way of Honolulu), Christopher has been with the Museums for over two years.
In 1980, H. McCoy Jones announced that he and his wife, Caroline, would donate his entire private collection of more than six hundred Central Asian carpets to the Fine Arts Museums. Two years later, Cathryn M. Cootner was appointed as the de Young’s first textile curator (her tenure as curator-in-charge would run through 1995). Cootner’s robust acquisition and exhibition program transformed the Museums into a well-respected repository for high quality textiles and oriental rugs. Chief among these was a watershed exhibition of Caroline McCoy-Jones’s unsurpassed collection of Anatolian kilims in 1991. We took a moment to sit down with Cathy Cootner to reflect on the McCoy Joneses and their spectacular kilims twenty years later.
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every September 15 through October 15. California's identity is deeply rooted in Hispanic culture, and its influence can be felt throughout the streets of San Francisco and throughout the Fine Arts Museums. Here at the de Young, the Art of the Americas and the American Art department boast significant artworks by artists of Hispanic descent . We hope that you enjoy this self-guided tour of the artwork created by this incredibly rich and diverse cultural group.
El mes de la Herencia Hispana se celebra empezando el 15 de septiembre y concluye el 15 de octubre. La identidad de California está profundamente arraigada en la cultura hispana y su influencia se puede sentir a lo largo de las calles de San Francisco y en los Fine Arts Museums . Aquí en el museo de Young los departamentos del Arte de las Américas y el arte de América cuentan con obras de arte significantes de artistas de decendencia Hispana. Esperamos que disfrute de este recorrido autoguiado de la obra de arte creada por este grupo cultural importante y diverso.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite portrait of the holy family painted by a Frenchman in Italy. Simon Vouet's The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist is currently on view at the Legion of Honor.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. Today, in honor of Jacob Lawrence's birthday, we feature his compelling masterwork Migration, currently on display at the de Young.
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.
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a monumental kilim that will be featured prominently in the upcoming exhibition The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection, which opens September 10.
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
Favorite Things: An Exhibition of Artist Books in Memory of David Logan, 1918–2011, a selection of books from the Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books, is currently on view at the Legion of Honor in through February 12, 2012.
Comprising approximately 300 volumes, the Logan Collection is one of the foremost collections of modern artists’ books (also called livres d’artiste, or illustrated books) to find a home within a museum.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature the graphically arresting Red Fuji by renowned Japanese printmaker Katsushika Hokusai. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that you would be a fool not to climb Mount Fuji once, but a fool to do so twice. Since it is currently not on view, you would be a fool not to enjoy this virtual viewing of Mount Fuji!
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd explore the art historical word gallery to provide you with some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques or movements in art.
The Fine Arts Museums’ collection of antiquities has played a central role in the development of both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. This summer, we offered a teacher institute for sixth grade teachers to enrich their schools by using our ancient art collections in their curricula. This program, presented in partnership with the UC Berkeley History–Social Studies Project (UCBH-SSP), gave teachers the tools to teach students how to think like historians.
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.
Forty years ago, Linda Nochlin published her seminal article "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" spurring art historians and curators to reexamine the contributions of women artists over time. Since then, the landscape of the world’s art institutions has changed drastically. Here at the de Young, we often receive inquiries about the presence (or perceived lack) of women artists in the museum. In response, we have created a self-guided tour highlighting women artists at the de Young.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an enigmatic coffin from Egypt's turbulent past. Currently on view at the Legion of Honor, this ancient artwork provides insight into Egypt's past.
"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 tech shop, where preparator Paul Palacios installs the art that makes the galleries and exhibitions you see possible! Originally from Texas, Paul has been with the Museums for almost thirteen years, minus the two he spent working at the Asian Art Museum during the construction of the new de Young.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a sumptuous portrait of an 18th-century beauty painted by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun in the wake of the French Revolution. The lovely Hyacinthe is currently on view in Gallery 16 at the Legion of Honor!
When installing a painting or sculpture for exhibition, determining the correct orientation of the work is (perhaps obviously) paramount. When discussing modern art, a seemingly simple question like “Which side is up?” can become much more complicated; and occasionally when dealing with abstract art, this determination can be downright perplexing.
Two paintings recently reinstalled in Gallery 50 at the de Young have raised this question for years. Since they first arrived at the Museums, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Petunias and Arthur Dove’s Sea Gull Motive have puzzled viewers and art historians alike.
"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 whimsical world of the Flower Committee, where we meet artist Ann Hedges. Originally from New York City, Ann has been volunteering with the Museums for fifteen years.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an extraordinary piece of American decorative art, the Mantelpiece for Thurlow Lodge, currently installed in Gallery 23 at the de Young.
For the past six weeks, we have followed the progress of Balcomb Greene's Six-Sided Planes through the museum on its way to exhibition. We began tracking the painting's journey when it first entered the Fine Arts Museums via the registration department. It then went on to paintings conservation for a makeover before heading on to the Board of Trustees for final approval. Next it re-entered the registration department for final acquisition, after which it was photographed for record-keeping purposes. And last week, we learned about the work's art historical context and significance from the American art department's curatorial perspective. Now, after all the research, preparation, and planning, Six-Sided Planes is finally on display in Wilsey Court!
Art technician Paul Tavian wheels the painting through Wilsey Court.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a fabulous ballgown designed by fashion icon Christian Dior. This garment is currently not on display, so we offer you this exclusive online viewing!
Last week, we followed Six-Sided Planes into the photgraphy studio where it was shot for record identification. Today we learn about the history and significance of this painting from the curatorial perspective.
My name is Emma Acker, and I’m a curatorial assistant in the American Art department at the Fine Arts Museums. In May of this year, I presented Balcomb Greene’s Six-Sided Planes as a potential purchase to the Acquisitions Committee of our Board of Trustees.
For a limited one-month engagement, the famed violin “The David” made by Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri (del Gesú) is on display at the Legion of Honor through August 10!
Bequeathed to the Museums in 1989 by Jascha Heifetz, who was one of the world’s greatest violinists, this instrument currently spends most of its time at the San Francisco Symphony in the skilled hands of Concertmaster Alexander “Sascha” Barantschik.
"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 curatorial department at the Legion of Honor to meet Jim Ganz, curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. Originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, Jim has been with the Museums for three years and one month (but who's counting, anyway?).
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful Civil War-era photograph from The Album of the Lincoln Conspiracy. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided an exclusive online viewing!
Now that the Board of Trustees has approved the purchase of Balcomb Greene's Six-Sided Planes and it has been permanently accessioned into the Museums' collection, the next step is to make identification photography of the artwork. This photo will be used for internal recordkeeping on the collections management database and the website.
A monumental 17th-century etching/engraving by the artist Jacques Callot is currently on view in the Jacqueline and Peter Hoefer Print Study Room at the Legion of Honor. In addition to a dramatic naval battle scene, the print depicts many fascinating details of daily life, which are visible upon close inspection. Although the print was acquired by the museums in 1968, it had never been exhibited due to condition issues.
After Six-Sided Planes received its makeover in the paintings conservation lab, it was transported to the Legion of Honor for review during the full Board meeting (there are several sub-committee Board meetings that take place throughout the year).
Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection opens this Saturday, July 9 at the Legion of Honor. In preparation, bone up on your 17th-century history with these fun facts about the Dutch Golden Age and paintings on view in our permanent collection!
ca. 1600 | Wigs and dress trains become fashionable. William Shakespeare writes Hamlet.
1609 | Johannes Kepler announces important laws of planetary motion.
1611 | King James Bible is published.
1612 | Peter Paul Rubens paints The Tribute Money.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature the iconic Boatmen on the MIssouri by George Caleb Bingham, currently on view in Gallery 23 at the de Young.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a spectacular obsidian ceremonial knife from Mesoamerica on display at the de Young.
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 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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, a painting by Honorè Daumier depicts an activity with which we are all too familiar: the commute. Third Class Carriage (Un Wagon de Troissieme Classe) is currently on display at the Legion of Honor in Gallery 17.
The art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is in itself a type of recycling. Inspired by sumptuous costume and textiles from the past, de Borchgrave recreates some of history’s most iconic fashions in the surprising medium of paper. Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, on view at the Legion of Honor through June 12, displays paper outfits derived from those seen in European paintings, museum collections, photographs, sketches and even literary descriptions. De Borchgrave’s art practice seems particularly relevant in today’s conservation-minded climate in which “recycle and reuse” has become a mantra for artists and fashionistas alike.
Paper fashion was not always associated with such principled objectives. In the late 1960s, when de Borchgrave was just beginning her career, paper dresses captured the cultural zeitgeist not only for their pithy design and novelty, but specifically for their disposability.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums operate. Steven F. Correll is a Registrar who literally makes the "scene" possible by organizing and tracking artwork as it moves through the Museums. Originally from San Diego, CA and Ponca City, OK, Steve has been with the Museums for 4 years.
In my last post, I introduced you to the cutting edge photography Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a technique invented by Tom Malzbender at Hewlett Packard Labs. Here at the Museums, we have been using RTI to gain better understanding of objects in our permanent collection. We have just completed another round of RTI photography of this 5th-century Greek pelike.
In 1996 construction workers accidentally uncovered a mosaic while widening a road in the modern Israeli town of Lod, near Tel Aviv. A preliminary excavation immediately conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed that three feet below the modern surface there was a mosaic floor dating to about AD 300. The three most complete and impressive panels from the floor are on view at the Legion of Honor through July 24.
FRAME|WORK is a new weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we feature a landscape painted by one of our marquee artists, Wayne Thiebaud.
When objects conservators design a treatment for a corroded sculpture, they often have to grapple with the issue of the artist’s intent.
For instance, would Henry Moore at age 29, who made a sculpture with a shiny metallic surface, be in agreement with Henry Moore at 75, who, when interviewed about a treatment, stated that he quite liked the idea that surfaces went green, dry and streaky with time?
One way a conservator can help tease out these contradictions is to interview contemporary artists about the materials and techniques they use and then record how these artists would like their sculptures cared for in the future. At the Fine Arts Museums we are developing a database tracking this information for contemporary sculpture under our care.
My name is Sue Grinols and as the director of photo services and imaging, I witness the intersection of art and technology on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be working in photography. Just seeing how technology is changing the field can be breathtaking, not to mention challenging.
Photographing artwork is a sub-specialty of studio photography. Here at the Museums, we use the same equipment and techniques as photographers who produce beautiful images of cars, perfume bottles, leather couches, and the perfectly grilled steak. But instead of trying to capture the steak’s sizzle or the couch’s inviting warmth, we attempt to bring out the essential character of the artwork while emphasizing its sublime beauty whenever possible. When we’re not doing that, we can make images that show the hard, cold details of an object in order to help conservators as they work through treating the artwork, or to help curators in their scholarly study of an object. It is this second type of photography that I want to blog about today.
It is with great sadness that the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco mourn the passing of Merle Greene Robertson. A legend in the world of Mesoamerican studies and Maya epigraphy, Robertson has been a friend and consultant to the Museums for decades. She generously donated many of her unique rubbings made from the monuments of Chichen Itza, a large Maya center that flourished on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico after AD 800. These rubbings provide clear renderings of detailed Maya stone carvings and are an important aspect of the Museums' Mesoamerican holdings.
Today the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco wish a happy birthday to renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn. The Fine Arts Museums have enjoyed a long relationship with the artist since the Legion of Honor hosted Diebenkorn’s first solo exhibition in 1948. From that point on, the Museums were ardent supporters of the artist and his work. Both the American Art Department and the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts have compiled significant holdings of his work.
"Will Work for Art" is a new series of blog posts that will take you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums possible. Our inaugural staff member is Debra Evans, head of paper conservation. Originally from Hawaii, she has been at the museums for 28 years.
Attributed to Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900)
Our Banner in the Sky, ca. 1861
Oil on paper mounted on paper board
7 13/16 x 11 13/16 inches
Exactly 150 years ago today on April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began in earnest. At 4:30 a.m., Confederate batteries on the shores of Charleston Harbor in South Carolina opened fire on Fort Sumter, the Federal-held fortification that dominated the harbor after commander Major Robert Anderson refused its surrender. The resulting bombardment went on for 34 hours, with Confederate artillerists lobbing over 3,000 rounds of shot and shell in the fort's direction. While the fort's masonry walls were battered and many of its wooden buildings were set alight, there were no fatal casualties on either side during the engagement. Ironically, two Union soldiers were killed when ammunition was accidentally ignited during the 100-gun salute to Fort Sumter's tattered but intact American flag.
It is this flag that is thought to be depicted in the de Young's Our Banner in the Sky, believed to have been created in 1861 by American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church. Major Anderson took Fort Sumter's flag with him back to the North, where it became the focal point of numerous patriotic rallies, the first of which took place in New York City's Union Square. With over 100,000 attendees, it was the largest public gathering in the United States to date. The celebrity flag toured countless cities throughout the North, where it raised funds for the war effort by being auctioned off. The winner naturally donated the flag back to the nation to be auctioned off again at the next rally. In April of 1865, Anderson, now a major general, returned to Fort Sumter and raised the flag over its ruins as part of the celebration of the Union's victory.
Alexander Hesler (American, 1823–1895), Abraham Lincoln, 1860 (printed ca. 1881)
Albumen print from glass plate negative, framed, 9 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches
Museum purchase, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund. 2007.38
Today, March 4, 2011, is the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. At this time in 1861, the nation was deep in the throes of political and social upheaval, with the recent secession of seven southern states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, who had already selected Jefferson Davis as the provisional president of the Confederate States of America only three weeks before. The American Civil War soon started in earnest, with the bombardment of Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.
Rembrandt Peale (American, 1778–1860), George Washington, ca. 1850.
Oil on canvas. 53.15.1
Presenting the first blog post by communications intern Gauthier Melin.
In preperation for the exhibition Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Legion of Honor, artist Isabelle de Borchgrave created five new works inspired by paintings in the European paintings collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Selected by de Borchgrave during a summer 2010 visit to the Legion of Honor, the paintings include Anthony van Dyck's Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child (1634), Massimo Stanzione's Woman in Neapolitan Costume (ca. 1635), Konstantin Makovsky's The Russian Bride's Attire (1889), and Jacob-Ferdinand Voet's late 17th-century Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba.
All five of de Borchgrave's life-sized interpretations are on view in the last gallery of the exhibition. After taking in Pulp Fashion on the Legion's lower level, head upstairs to find three of the four paintings. (The portrait of Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba is not on public view, as it's currently being worked on in our conservation studio.)
Marie Claire de Croy and Child, 2010
Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599–1641), Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child, 1634.
Oil on canvas, 81 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. 58.43
On view in Gallery 14.
Regulars to the permanent galleries at the de Young will notice a new addition to Gallery 23 on the upper gallery level—the anonymous painting titled Robert, Calvin, Martha, and William Scott and Mila, ca. 1843–1845. The painting depicts the children of Reverend William Anderson Scott (1813–1885), a Presbyterian minister in New Orleans from 1842 to 1854. The spire of the First Presbyterian Church where Dr. Scott was pastor is visible at the center of the city’s skyline.
In 2005, Bay Area artist Kay Sekimachi gifted the museum a seminal work, a miniature book—The Wave. The Wave comes from her series of accordion books that were inspired by the Japanese artist Hokusai prints from his own series Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. Woven in natural linen, Sekimachi used a painted-warp technique to imprint the repetitive pattern of the wave on the book’s covers and pages and a double-weave technique to create the accordion folds. The meditative quality of Sekimachi’s work belies the complexity of her techniques. Her work reflects a combination of influences— from the Japanese aesthetic comes her purity of form and reverence of nature and from her early Bauhaus training the control of geometry and symmetry, as well as, the exploration of the double-weave technique.
Jill D'Alessandro, Curator, Textile Arts
Visitors to the exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay can get a look at one of the Fine Arts Museum's newest acquisitions, The Absinthe Drinkers (Les buveurs d'absinthe), 1881, by Jean-François Raffaëlli (French, 1850–1924). The Absinthe Drinkers is widely regarded as among Raffaëlli's most important and accomplished paintings. It can be viewed at the entrance to Birth of Impressionism this summer, but will eventually take up permanent residence in the Legion of Honor's gallery 19.
Although not counted among the Impressionists, the Realist Raffaëlli nonetheless exhibited The Absinthe Drinkers (at the invitation of Degas, who sought to increase the number of figural painters involved) at the sixth Impressionist group show in 1881.There it caused a sensation due to its gritty imagery and portrayal of the devastating effects of addiction to the potent drink absinthe.
Out past the lines
Poems from the residencyKim Shuck
Walking into the Kimball Education gallery this month, a visitor might experience a childhood flashback of placing collector cards in the wheel spokes of your first bike, or scenes from Pixar’s recent film, WALL-E. In Jeanine Briggs' Transfigurations, the artist-in-residence incorporates trash and found materials in a variety of forms including small characters, masks, and full body representations.
One guest during my residency mentioned that he liked the larger canvas of a vest better than, say, a small pouch. I think I smiled and nodded at the time. It was towards the end and my desire to take up each and every teachable moment had waned somewhat. I've slept some now so: I don't make my work for entirely decorative reasons.
On the way past the bandshell I noticed that the puddle the squirrels were drinking out of yesterday had dried up. Fog all gone... It's quite hot actually.
The various animals didn't come around today. There were human visitors of varying sorts. I'm embarrassed to admit the major focus of the day. It wasn't profound. Mostly just feathers.
It's been a long month and my brain is getting sluggish. Fortunately there were many people I liked around today.
Another magical foggy day. This time with tomatoes and raspberries. Well, that and my first official day without Mr. Horse. I knew it was going to be difficult so I brought fruit. Fruit and Knopfler and Clapton... I also had Intern Extrordinaire Mlle. Megan. Bob the sitting ball was there too. Life could have been harder. Still... even with all of that and the buffalo hunt on the wall... it was slightly difficult. I'm a creature of habit.
On June 18th, during the Cultural Encounters evening event, I sat down with current artist-in-residence, Michael Horse, to find out more about his background and artistic influences. Born near Tucson, Horse is of Yaqui, Mescalero Apache, Zuni, European, and Hispanic descent and comes from an artistically talented family of jewelers, potters, and painters. Not only is he a talented jeweler and painter, but he is also an actor and stuntman who has appeared in many movies including Twin Peaks, Passenger 57, Lakota Woman, and Smoke Signals.
You may be in for a fun day when you find a hawk feather coming in to work. You may be in for a fun day when your first visitor in the studio asks great questions and listens to the answers. It's been a fun day when a mom tells you that you 'made everyone happy' with some oil pastels and butcher paper (grinning kids and interesting drawings and all).
Ok, so we aren't always brilliant are we?
We only had a very few folk in today, so we both got a good deal of work done and talked about bad Native themed movies. Well, we talked about different kinds of movies, but we talked most about what I call 'Bad Indian Movies'. These would be films with glaring cultural errors, stereotypes or other faux pas. It was a hoot.
Last Friday I did a poetry reading elsewhere, so I had not yet experienced the gallery on a Friday evening. Wow. Just wow.
After questions about my background, my religion and alternately about my inspiration and vision, the most commonly asked question I've had in the gallery so far is 'How did you learn to do this stuff?' I'm sure that other Native artists have other answers to that question but here is a bit of an answer for me. I use a number of different beading techniques in my work. In order of most to least common as of this week: bead applique, flat peyote stitch, flat round peyote stitch, cheyenne brick stitch and loomed beading. Now to take them utterly out of order...
Someone asked me today where I got my beads. I have two stores I like to order from online. I have one place I like to go and poke through. I have a serious bead collection myself. When community members see me bead they often donate things they think I'll like. Finally, I am often given collections of beads from people who have passed. None of this helps the fact that seed beads come in certain colors and not really others. Glass is a picky substance.
June 4—A second foop
A few years ago I was given a set of meditation bells in a rosewood box. You were meant to tip the box over and some number of ball bearings inside would adhere to these sticky disks on the top of the box. Then when you flipped it back over the balls would gradually fall in varying patterns of sound. The reality was that you'd get the balls stuck and flip the box and about half of the balls would fall in one foop (foop here meaning flurry) then some time later another foop and so forth. I have not tipped that box in over a year but there are still some hold out bearings that every so often release and sound a bell. That happened this morning. I also got damp basement that had to be dried immediately. Today was pretty interesting, even before I got to the museum. I suppose that everything informs the work eh? So we had a massive foop on tuesday moving in, now we've had another foop. I imagine that at this point the balls fall more slowly.
FAMSF presents Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown in the Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Textile Gallery at the de Young. The exhibition, which runs through June 6, 2010, features 48 full-size and crib quilts that showcase the diversity of the Amish quilt tradition. As an exhibition supplement, the textile education gallery is devoted to quilts and visitors of all ages are invited to create their own quilt patterns using wooden blocks.
Amazing art comes through the photo studio on a regular basis.
We tend to save Mondays (when we’re closed to the public) to photograph artworks that are normally installed in the galleries. This way we can take the objects out of the galleries and into the photo studio without impacting the public.
Recently we shot two recent acquisitions from the AOA department. The images will appear in the next edition of the museums' Fine Arts magazine.