Blog Category: de Young
I admit it: I LOVE museums. I have a sense of wonder every time I walk into one, and (obviously) art museums are among my favorites. But sometimes my kids get a little bored or start to complain after an overdose of paintings and sculptures, so I was thrilled last month when the de Young was transformed into a magical wonderland where children and their families romped, danced, and experienced art in a whole new way. The de Youngsters: A Bigger Family Party, the inaugural celebration of the next generation of museum-goers and art patrons, brought children, parents, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco together for a night of pure joy.
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.
We all have those people in our lives who are difficult to shop for, whether they’re super stylish, seem to have everything, or are just plain picky. Luckily, the Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young offers a unique variety of gifts for everyone on your list. Now in its seventh year, the season’s best shopping event features 17 of the Bay Area’s top artisans displaying their unique wares. An extensive variety of jewelry, textiles, home accessories, books, stationery and gifts for kids make the Holiday Artisan Fair the perfect opportunity to buy local and meet the artisans
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.
De Young Artist Fellow Lenora Lee’s talents are unquestionable, but perhaps the key to her success is the incredible community that she’s built around herself. Her upcoming performance includes a long list of artistic collaborators: musicians, dancers, martial artists, a multimedia designer, a poet, filmmakers, and a lighting designer. Lee’s diverse collaborations create a variety of access points for audiences, and for Lee, those points of connection are of the most important part of each performance. Together Lee and her collaborators have created two new performances, The Escape and Rescued Memories: New York Stories, which will be performed at the de Young this November.
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.
August Artist-in-Residence Peggy Gyulai explores the connections between music and the expressive possibilities of paint on canvas in her work. She listens to and looks at music as a subject, object, inspiration, and—like Richard Diebenkorn—invokes the dynamic tension between the poles of abstraction and representation, creating substance from ephemeral phenomena.
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.
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.”
This post was written in collaboration wtih Jasmin Bode.
In plain sight or behind closed doors, in basements, or beneath manhole covers, lurk the myriad systems that support city life—drains, running water, sewage treatment, and fire-suppression, to name just a few. The Urbanauts, current de Young Artist Fellows Sean Orlando and Rebar, have tasked themselves with the exploration of this infrastructure and its relationship to the everyday experience of the contemporary city. Their investigations began last October and now—during the second phase of their fellowship—they present Systemic, an installation on view in the de Young’s Kimball Education Gallery that will evolve throughout the month of June. We recently spoke with the Urbanauts about their project.
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.
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.
Lenora Lee is a dancer, a choreographer, and a current de Young Artist Fellow. As the artistic director of Lenora Lee Dance, she has created interdisciplinary performances that integrate dance, martial arts, video projection, music, and text. During her yearlong fellowship, Lee will complete two new performances, The Escape and Rescued Memories: New York Stories, both of which are inspired by stories of Chinese women who immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century.
It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have passed since the de Young hosted the first student showcase. This week’s Friday Nights at the de Young features the 17th annual New Generations Student Showcase! This year’s theme, Everyday Worlds: Exteriors and Interiors, is inspired by the special exhibitions currently on view at the de Young, including Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, Eye Level in Iraq: Photographs by Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson, and Objects of belief from the Vatican: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
As an extensive national search to find a new director draws to a close, we look forward to making a public announcement soon. As we prepare to embark on the next chapter of our long history it’s a good time to reflect on the amazing success we’ve experienced over the past several years.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)—which comprises the de Young and the Legion of Honor—is one of the most successful organizations of its kind in the world. We operate under the highest standards of governance. It is because of our high standards that we are a flourishing art institution that continues to exceed expectations both financially and artistically.
Our organization is among the largest and most respected art institutions in the country. Due to the efforts of our talented staff and dedicated Board of Trustees, we have been able to bring to San Francisco some extraordinary exhibitions such as:
- Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
- Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay
- Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay
- Girl with the Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis
- And, coming in 2013, David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition
Conversation 6, a special exhibition on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery in the Civic Center through April 27, pairs Jason Hanasik, a local multimedia artist, with Berndnaut Smilde, an internationally recognized installation artist from Amsterdam. Today’s guest blogger Meg Shiffler is the director of the SFAC Galleries, and in this entry focuses on the work of Smilde and its relationship to paintings featured in the special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.
Foodies and art aficionados alike can feast their eyes on delectable still lifes in the special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis on view at the de Young through June 2. With the abundance of delicious artwork on view, it is only fitting that the de Young Café provides equally delicious food to satiate cravings experienced while inside the exhibition.
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.
Artists-in-Residence Brad Rosenstein and Jean Lamprell conclude their month-long residence this weekend at the de Young. Rosenstein, an independent curator, has transformed the Artist Studio into a floating gallery of gossamer tutus created by renowned costumier Jean Lamprell. In this blog post, museum educator Gregory Stock interviews this dynamic duo.
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.
De Young Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth are preparing for the final installation of their monumental triptych The Conflicts. Get a sneak peek at the culminating exhibition of their fellowship in the group show Punch Card, opening at Catharine Clark Gallery this Saturday, January 19, 2013. Hope and Roth will present the completed tapestries at the de Young in the Artist Studio throughout the month of March. In this blog post, Hope and Roth examine the role technology has played in the process of creating this work.
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.
This week, de Young Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson debuts Instrument, the culminating performance of her yearlong fellowship. Inspired in part by the special exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance (on view at the de Young through February 17, 2013), the performance piece will make its world premiere at CounterPULSE, a collaborating partner, on November 29. To create Instrument, Jenkinson partnered with three different choreographers, with each collaboration taking place in isolation. All three choreographers remain unaware of the work of the other two participants, and like us, they will not see the work in its entirety until the premiere.
This is the final post in a three-part series documenting Jenkinson’s work with each of these diverse choreographers. Chris Black, falls somewhere between the experimental process of Miguel Gutierrez and the more structured ballet techniques of Amy Seiwert.
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.
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.
Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young features work in progress by Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique). As part of the creation of her original work, Instrument, Jenkinson is working with three different choreographers in an experimental process designed to enact, expose, and undermine the roles of the dancer as workhorse and the choreographer as auteur. The presentation tonight will be a rare opportunity to witness the development of Instrument, inspired in part by Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance (on display at the de Young through February 17, 2013). The first in a series of three, today’s post focuses on the collaboration between Jenkinson and choreographer Miguel Gutierrez.
It’s hard to imagine that the artwork on view in The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism (through December 30) once decorated the walls of a private home. Today’s guest blogger, Alisa Carroll, explores the role that art can play in both the construction of a home and the communication of the owner’s identity. Carroll is a San Francisco-based writer and consultant the editor-in-chief of 3D Magazine, and a San Francisco scout for Elle Décor. Her first book, a monograph with interior designer Jay Jeffers, will be published by Rizzoli in fall 2013.
Interiority—The quality of being focused on one’s inner life and identity.
At the age of 14, former ballerina Stephanie Herman ditched school and waited in line for six hours at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House to see Rudolf Nureyev dance with Margot Fonteyn. Little did she know that a decade later, she would be dancing with the famed ballerino, whose career and costumes are the subject of the special exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance, which opens tomorrow, October 6.
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.
It was well known within the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) that chief executive William S. Paley would always set aside what he was working on to take a call from The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Paley’s relationship with MoMA began in 1937, just eight years after its founding, and included roles as trustee, president, and chairman. His eventual donation of his collection to the museum—an important selection of modernist art—strengthened the institution in vital ways, and is the subject of The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism, which is on view through December 30 at the de Young. Paley's relationship with MoMA was built on great generosity, and continued until his death in 1990.
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.
It’s the fifth and final day of Five Days of Friday! Tonight, September 7, Friday Nights at the de Young hosts a ton of great events, including live music, performances, art demonstrations, video installations, and of course, art making for all! One of tonight’s highlights is a visit by the San Francisco Public Library Green Bookmobile, featuring titles used by Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth to research The Conflicts, a triptych of monumental tapestries. Guest bloggers Hope and Roth share their reading list below—check it out and then check out a book tonight at the Bookmobile!
Catherine Herrera is a Bay Area artist and filmmaker of Ohlone descent who has collaborated with the de Young Museum on numerous projects over the past several years. This Friday Night at the de Young, September 7, Herrera’s video installation Bridge Walkers will be on view for one night only in the observation deck on the ninth floor of the museum’s Hamon Education Tower. In this, the third installment of Five Days of Friday, director of public programs Renee Baldocchi sits down with Herrera to learn more about the installation and the artist’s practice.
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.
Artist-in-Residence Tamar Assaf creates artwork articulating subtle social and ecological commentary on the environment. Her work raises awareness of the human influence on animals in the wild and how entire ecosystems function as a delicate balance of interdependencies. Throughout the month of August, Assaf invites visitors to engage in hands-on activities at the de Young as they experience
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.
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.
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.
The influence of a variety of non-western cultures can be seen throughout the collections featured in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Tonight at Friday Nights at the de Young, we honor the origins of these influences with an evening of Indigenous Couture curated by Native American artist, dancer, and designer Eddie Madril.
This weekend San Francisco (and the world) celebrates gay pride with rainbows, parades, love, and equality. What better way to ring in the revelry than with a visit to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which highlights the designer’s personal ethos of “equality, diversity and perversity?” Blurring the lines between male and female, Gaultier achieves a code of beauty that is at once masculine, feminine, and androgynous. The openly gay Gaultier has never been afraid to break social taboos, and in so doing has created his own open-minded and generous fashion world.
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!
Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young celebrates the history of the dandy from Oscar Wilde to Jean Paul Gaultier. Whereas Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic style was derided as too feminine, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces gender bending, dressing men in skirts and women in exquisitely tailored suits. In this way, Gaultier's designs approach a new androgyny and subvert established fashion codes. The designer toys with standard concepts of the masculine and feminine throughout the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , but one exhibit in particular literally speaks to this issue. He is the Man in the Mirror.
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.
Seven years ago, the de Young hosted its first jazz performance in partnership with Intersection for the Arts. Jazz at Intersection at the de Young came about through my relationship with Kevin Chen of Intersection for the Arts. Together we invited a wide range of local jazz composers and musicians to create and perform music inspired by the museum’s special exhibitions and permanent collection.
Composer, trumpeter and singer-songwriter Sarah Wilson technically grew up in a vineyard, but her coming of age as a musician took place in New York City. At her first performance as an Artist Fellow at the de Young tomorrow, Friday, May 25, Wilson presents new work inspired by both the rolling hills of the Napa Valley and New York City’s wild women of jazz.
Wilson began her yearlong fellowship last November with a 10-day residency at Stags’ Leap Winery, where the vineyards—their colors and moods—served as muse for the new compositions Night Still and Color, both of which will be featured in tomorrow’s performance.
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.
For the past week, Max Fishko and company have been tirelessly converting the Concourse Exhibition Center from a cavernous abandoned train depot into artMRKT, San Francisco’s premier contemporary art venue. Tonight’s exclusive preview benefits the de Young and the Legion of Honor, so we thought we’d take you inside for a behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable transformation.
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!
Next week the city of San Francisco will be flooded with art dealers and collectors, all clamoring to see the newest and brightest at the second annual artMRKT contemporary and modern art fair. The event’s opening festivities kick off this Thursday, May 17 and feature a preview reception benefiting the de Young and the Legion of Honor museums.
We recently sat down with artMRKT co-founder Max Fishko, a third-generation gallerist from New York City, to get his take on the contemporary art scene at large and in San Francisco.
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.
Today’s guest blogger is 2012 de Young Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique). During her yearlong fellowship, she is focusing on the Museums’ costume and textiles collection, particularly the work of Jean Paul Gaultier as represented in the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (on view at the de Young through August 19). This Friday Night at the de Young, April 27, Jenkinson presents Making Scenes, a curated evening that includes a new dance/installation piece entitled Our People, inspired by the work of Gaultier—his icons, his fetishes and his light-hearted, humanistic irreverence. Here she shares with us the creative process behind the making of Our People.
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.
This week, San Francisco enters the film world of Jean Paul Gaultier! Tonight, in partnership with the Fashion Film Festival, Friday Nights at the de Young presents Falbalas, the film that inspired Gaultier to embark on his fashion odyssey. Also tonight, the Castro Theater screens a JPG double feature, which includes Luc Besson’s sci-fi adventure The Fifth Element. And on Sunday, the Fashion Film Festival features Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s dark fairy tale The City of Lost Children at the Roxie.
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.
For the past month, March Artist-In-Residence Joy Broom has been creating extravagant, multilayered, three-dimensional specimen boxes. Combining her intricate line drawings of organic elements with actual insects, seed pods, branches, body references, antique maps and biological medical sources—all covered with purified beeswax—she presents a unique cabinet of curiosities that provide further reflections of the broader natural universe.
What do Jean Paul Gaultier, Lady Gaga, Don Draper and Frida Kahlo all have in common? They're all themes featured in Season Eight of Friday Nights at the de Young. After a four-month hiatus, the de Young opens Season Eight tonight, Friday, March 30, with a bigger than ever community party celebrating The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk .
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).
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (on view through August 19 at the de Young) reveals the limitless cross cultural influences at play in the work of Jean Paul Gaultier. Throughout his career, Gaultier has drawn inspiration from diverse formats ranging from film and television, technology, street and club culture, and, of course, music. Pop music and its reigning superstars have continuously stimulated the creative drive of fashion’s enfant terrible. Perhaps most famous for the iconic costumes created in collaboration with Madonna for her 1990 Blond Ambition tour, Gaultier has seamlessly integrated music and its larger-than-life personalities into his unique fashion world.
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.
The designs of Jean Paul Gaultier often straddle the seemingly divergent worlds of haute couture and street fashion. To illustrate the profound influence of the street’s wild style on Gaultier’s designs, the museum commissioned San Francisco based artist Rio Yañez to create a 65-foot long graffiti mural, which will serve as the backdrop for the Punk Cancan section of the exhibition.
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
Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique), a 2012 de Young Artist Fellow, is currently working in an open process format in the Kimball Education Gallery. The fundamental goals of the yearlong Artist Fellows program are to support work by artists both inside and outside of the museum, and to foster long-term relationships with those artists and their collaborating partners. In some cases, the foundation for this relationship has been long established through programs such as Friday Nights at the de Young. Case in point: Monique Jenkinson, dancer and performance artist.
Photo by Michelle Blioux
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.
What’s Going On: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, the second installment in Kevin Epps's curated Filmmakers Lounge series, examines the life and legacy of this astounding musical artist. Serving once again as a guest blogger, Epps talks about his life-long connection to the music of Marvin Gaye.
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.
Today's guest blogger is 2011 de Young Artist Fellow Kevin Epps, whose film Fam Bam had its world premiere at the de Young last fall. As part of the Museums’ goal to continue its relationships with Artist Fellows and their collaborating partners–in this case the African American Art and Culture Complex–Epps will curate a two-part Filmmaker’s Lounge series featuring movies by local filmmakers.To celebrate Black History Month, Epps has selected films that draw from his memories of growing up in San Francisco’s African American community. The series kicks off this Saturday, February 4 with Which Way is Up?, starring Richard Pryor.
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
In continuation of our series Museum Without Walls, we visited Todd T. Brown’s studio as he prepares for his final exhibition as an Artist Fellow at the de Young. Inheritance and Dreams will be on display in the Kimball Education Gallery February 1–12.
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.
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.
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.
This month in the Artist Studio, glass artist Dana Zed is drawing museum goers into her world of mirrors and reflection. Including the public in the process of art making is integral to the mission of the Artist in Residence program, but working within the Kimball Education Gallery and with the public often results in surprising collaborations, as Zed has discovered.
Posted by guest blogger Dana Zed.
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.
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.
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).
"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.
With Friday Nights at the de Young on hiatus until March 30, 2012, we thought we’d take a moment to recognize some of our most dedicated supporters. Meet the Pelaez family, longtime museum members and intrepid fans of Friday Nights at the de Young. Parents Jenna and Steve along with their two kids, Payton, 7 and Aria, 5 have rarely missed a Friday Night in the past six years. We asked them what were some of the highlights from their weekly ritual.
December Artist-in-Residence Genevieve Quick examines the history and wonder of telescopes, Victorian projectors, photography and space-age satellites. In The Lens Lab (on view through December 31, 2011, in the Kimball Education Gallery), Quick invites the public to interact with her hand-fabricated cameras. Participants are encouraged to use her modified cameras to photograph the museum and its grounds.
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.
Last week marked the close of Friday Nights at the de Young's season seven. We sat down with public programs director Renee Baldocchi to reflect on the past successes of Friday Nights at the de Young and to learn about what’s in store for the future, including upcoming programming for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.
"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.
Are you still searching for the perfect gifts and best deals? Well, look no further! This week is cyber shopping week at the Fine Arts Museums' online store. Shop an array of unique and artful items exclusive to the Museums' online store, where you'll receive 15% off all regular price merchandise and 20% off our entire stock of holiday cards and calendars through Sunday, December 4!
I’m Julian Cox, chief curator at the de Young, and tonight we are very excited to present the world premiere of FAM BAM, a new film by Artist Fellow Kevin Epps. The film will be shown in two back-to-back screenings in the Koret Auditorium at 6:30 and 7:10 p.m. Immediately following the second screening, there will be a question-and-answer session with Epps, during which he will share insight into his creative process and describe how he has used his time as an Artist Fellow to develop his ideas for this latest project.
This week, Epps and I sat down to talk a little about his background and how archives and material culture infuse his work in film.
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.
Campo Santo, de Young Artist Fellow and award-winning resident theater company of Intersection for the Arts premieres Block by Block: The Pura Principle, its newest theatrical work, in the de Young's Koret Auditorium on November 17, 18, and 19. The performance is based on recent short stories and original writings by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz.
Block by Block brings back to the stage Díaz’s wild and beautiful voice. Sean San José, theater director for Campo Santo, has adapted Diaz’s writings to life in our city, bringing a multimedia San Francisco block party to the de Young.
Audiences will be taken on a journey through San Francisco, block by block. Actors, dancers, and musicians interpret six neighborhoods–downtown, the Fillmore, the Excelsior, Hunters Point, the Mission, and the Castro–in vignettes reflecting the unique rituals found in each of these culturally rich neighborhoods. Experience DJ battles with Felonious; dance-offs with Nicole Klaymoon and the Embodiment Project; the murals of the Mission with projected visuals created by acclaimed artists Favianna Rodriguez, Evan Bissell, and Ricardo Richey; the urban life and writings of Junot Díaz with the Campo Santo Street Team and DJ Wonway; and Susie Lund, who transports you with Subway Strutting to Carnaval.
Watch a preview here.
How did we arrive at this place? We spoke with director Sean San José to take a deeper look at the inspiration and creative process behind Block by Block.
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.
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.
November artist-in-residence John Wehrle has been creating really big art since 1975. He specializes in site-specific public artworks, and his projects include mural-size paintings for interior and exterior walls as well as elaborate architectural installations that integrate text, painting, ceramic tile, and relief sculpture. Wehrle is working in the Kimball Education Gallery through November 25.
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?
One of the many goals of the Artist-in-Residence program at the de Young Museum is to explore connections between the artists and the surrounding park environment. These connections enrich our museum visitors' experience through the guest artists' explorations and interpretations. Visiting artists from around the globe offer a unique experience to learn about natural materials found right here in Golden Gate Park.
Māori artist Glenda Hape uses flax to weave and create contemporary art. There are more than 7,500 exotic plant species surrounding the de Young in Golden Gate Park, including several types of ornamental flax. The species of flax Glenda needed to continue her weaving projects in the Kimball Gallery is called Phormium tenax, also known as New Zealand flax (or harakeke in the Māori language). Last week, Glenda explained how difficult it is to harvest the materials she uses in her artistic practice, but with the assistance of Andy Stone, gardner and park supervisor for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Glenda's harvesting trip around Stowe Lake was bountiful and she found just the right flax (harakeke).
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 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.
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 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.
While the museum is closed to the public most Mondays, it welcomes hundreds of students and teachers to visit special exhibitions, such as Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. You may nostalgically remember this kind of field trip as day off from the classroom, but the education department’s school programs team makes the field trip a “day on” for young learners.
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. Today, in honor of Jacob Lawrence's birthday, we feature his compelling masterwork Migration, 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 meet Chris Huson, the Museums' courier, whose tireless trips between the two museums keep the staff in communication with each other and the outside world. Originally from Chicago, Chris has been with the Museums for thirty-two years!
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.
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!
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.
Guest blogger Danica Gomes is an intern in the Public Programs Department.
The art table has become a fixture of Friday Nights at the de Young. Every Friday kids, adults, regulars, and newcomers all crowd around paper-covered tables to take part in the evening’s hands-on art project. The projects are created and led by one of three museum artists, Suzanne Couture, Christian Davies, or Lisa Hubbard, and are always reflective of and inspired by special exhibitions. This summer, drawing on Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the art table has adapted Picasso’s definitive modes of expression and represented themes into activities designed for the general public.
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.
"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.
Last week you met the Museum Ambassadors, a highly motivated group of high school students trained to educate younger students about all things art. Today, we give you a sneak peek into the work that they do here at the Museums.
Weeks before we begin giving community tours, we memorize our scripts with our fellow ambassadors.
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.
If you visit the de Young and Legion of Honor this summer, you may be surprised see troupes of young children following teenagers around the galleries. Don’t be alarmed by these lively tours– they are being led by the extremely capable Museum Ambassadors!
"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.
“I think of art and painting as a journey, not simply a destination.”—Ken Campbell
Artist adventures! There are so many places to explore in the museum, and so many materials to experiment with in the studio!
Every Friday Night at the de Young is an adventure! Each week, the intrepid Public Programs team puts together an evening to remember, and no one Friday Night is alike. It is huge undertaking that requires the careful orchestration of many moving parts. Navigating an endless array of logistics, including a sea of chairs, flyers, AV equipment, and feather boas (yes, boas), the Friday Nights team seamlessly works together to present museumgoers with an experience they'll never forget! We thought you'd be interested to see what goes on behind the scenes of what has become a weekly institution in San Francisco's nightlife.
Supplies for the night's events are laid out on the 7th floor of the tower, including a detailed description of the night's many events.
For the past three years the education departments of the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have met to explore how collaborative programming can better support Bay Area teachers. Last week, building on this objective, the museums jointly hosted a four-day institute for high school teachers that focused on the theme of Discovering Connections.
Discover the women, the passion and the heartbreak behind Pablo Picasso’s work presented in Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris currently on view at the de Young. Behind every great artist, there is a muse. For Picasso, his romantic relationships provided inspiration for countless paintings, drawings and sculptures.
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!
Friday Nights at the de Young feature special lectures related to current exhibitions at the de Young. This Friday, July 22 Kieran Ridge presents "Picasso and Modern Literature: Liquid Architecture of the Palace of Marvels," a discussion of Picasso as a writer and the influence of contemporary authors and literature in his art. This is the first of three lectures presented in partnership with Alliance Française in celebration of Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris.
Mr. Ridge is chair of the English Department at The Marin School, where he teaches literature and film studies. To pique your interest in this fascinating subject, we have asked Mr. Ridge to answer a few questions about Picasso, the writer!
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.
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.
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).
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.
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the graphic design department, where all of the visual material associated with the Museums (except the art, of course) is created. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Brandon Ballog is a junior graphic designer who has been with the Museums for almost three years.
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.
For the last several months, Textile Conservation volunteers Kathy Murphy, Jean Scardina, intern Erica Storm and Objects Conservation volunteer Tegan Broderick have all been hard at work making covers for the furniture stored at the Legion of Honor. While most of the chairs were already stored beneath loose-fitting pieces of cloth, custom covers provide the objects with better protection from light and dust. Clearly labeled covers also facilitate quick identification of the objects underneath and prevent unnecessary handling.
FRAME|WORK 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!
Friday Nights at the de Young feature special lectures related to current exhibitions at the de Young. This Friday, June 24, Public Programs presents Picasso, Our Contemporary by Dakin Hart in conjunction with Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. Hart will discuss elements of Picasso's life and practice after World War II that suggest he may have become interested in what has come to be recognized as contemporary art practice, such as identity performance, the use of sculpture as a bridge between art and life and frank treatments of sex. Dakin Hart began his museum career as assistant to the director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and is currently working as an independent curator and writer in New York while finishing his Ph.D. at the Institute of Fine Arts.
Mr. Hart has graciously answered a few questions for us in preparation for this intriguing lecture!
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:
"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we feature a member of the frontline. Clara Hatcher works as the de Young receptionist and supports the visitor services and marketing departments. Originally from Ithaca, New York, Clara has been with the Museums for three years.
Friday Nights at the de Young feature lectures related to current exhibitions at the de Young. This Friday, June 17, Public Programs presents Spaniards in France: Cristóbal Balenciaga and Pablo Picasso, a lecture by Dr. James Housefield, a scholar of modern art and design at U.C. Davis. In preparation for this fascinating lecture, Dr. Housefield has graciously answered a few questions to pique your interest!
Museums, like the artworks they house, are constantly evolving. Expanding collections and audiences, outdated facilities, natural phenomena (like earthquakes), or changing building codes can all contribute to a museum’s decision to shutter its doors for lengthy renovations. One museum’s closure, however, is another's golden opportunity, as in the case of this museum! The de Young has recently benefitted from two important museum renovations in Paris: first, the Musée d’Orsay sent us two major exhibitions during its expansive renovations (Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Beyond and Birth of Impressionism) and now the Musée National Picasso brings us Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris opening this Saturday, June 11.
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.
Visitors to Balenciaga and Spain (on view at the de Young through July 4) will immediately notice something different about this installation: music! Melodic notes of Spanish guitar waft through the galleries and draw the viewer further into the exhibition, culminating in the section of the show devoted entirely to the influence of dance. The drama of Spanish dance traditions inspired Balenciaga and can be seen throughout his designs; we hope that the music included in the exhibition does the same for you!
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.
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.
Come celebrate Mother’s Day with the mother culture of Mesoamerica—the Olmec!
It seems fitting that the last opportunity to visit our exhibition on the Olmec is this Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8th. Often referred to as the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica, the Olmec were a lasting influence on Mesoamerican art, culture and civilization. And, like any good mom, their influence is clear in the subsequent, or epi-Olmec, cultures that came after them. Come celebrate with your mom, and make sure to visit the handful of female representations that are here with the exhibition.
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.
This summer, make your kid an artist—join us for art camp at the de Young Museum!
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.
In 2009, senior registrar Stephen Lockwood came across a series of ledger books while examining the de Young’s offsite storage facility. These antique books contained detailed records of the weather and daily attendance at the de Young since its opening day in 1895. One entry was particularly interesting:
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.
In case you missed it, here's the archived audio of Balenciaga and Spain guest curator and Vogue European editor-at-large Hamish Bowles as he discussed the exhibition and the life and work of Cristóbal Balenciaga on KQED's Forum.
As Bouquets to Art kicks off its 27th year at the de Young, floral exhibitors poured in with every type of flower and foliage imaginable. We followed floral artist Hiromi Nomura of Belle Flora, who was born and raised in Tokyo, to trace the day in the life of a flower and pay tribute to Japan following last week’s devastating earthquake.
One of the rarest pieces in our Olmec exhibition at the de Young is a carved human bust made of a tropical variety of cedar tree. Over three thousand years old, the bust has survived this long because it was buried at the bottom of a freshwater bog for most of its life.
Archaeologists believe it was placed in the bog, along with thirty-six other busts, by the Olmec as part of a large offering, probably in response to a long-term problem facing the community, such as a flood or drought. The busts were bundled in vegetable mats and buried along with other objects of high value—some of which are also in the exhibition.
Researchers think the Olmec chose the spring, named El Manatí for a nearby hill and the manatees that were abundant in the area, as a site for important offerings because it represented a culmination of important elements. The Olmec believed water and mountains were imbued with sacred qualities, including fertility, and saw tall hills both as a meeting point between the earth and the sky and as “mansions of the rain god.” The area was also abundant in hematite, an iron-rich red pigment that researchers believe the Olmec associated with blood.
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.
The Chinese artist Shi Guorui produced this photograph of the Donner Pass by creating a pinhole camera obscura. The photographic method is just like the oatmeal container pinhole camera you might have made in grade school, but on a much larger scale. The artist put a single small hole in the side of an otherwise light-sealed semi-trailer truck. The light rays passed through this small hole forming an inverted image on a long, curved sheet of sensitized photographic paper. We were told that the artist meditated during the hours-long exposure time.
At 4 feet 2 inches x 17 feet 2 inches, Donner Pass is one of the largest photographs in the Museums’ collection. Due to its unique size, installation required much advanced planning to come up with a method of hanging that was not only safe for the photograph, but also met the visions of the artist and curators. As the artist preferred the immediacy of the uncovered photograph placed directly on the wall, a tailored system of hinging materials and frame installation methods was devised by the paper conservation laboratory to safely meet this vision.
After much preparation, the day of installation had arrived.
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.
On Friday, September 17, in celebration of Mexico's bicentennial, the de Young is offering free admission to the permanent collection galleries from 5–8:45 pm in conjunction with Friday Nights at the de Young. In honor of the bicentennial, the de Young proudly presents an evening of film, fashion, dance and music to celebrate Mexico's artistic achievements. This event is organized by the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco.
Generally the de Young’s artist studio is the home of one artist and their process. Museum patrons can engage in a specific artist’s technique and area of expertise. For the month of September, four artists of the Kearny Street Workshop (www.kearnystreet.org <http://www.kearnystreet.org> ) transform the Kimball Education Gallery. Throughout the month, one to four artists will be involving the public in their different processes.
On August 19th, I sat down with current Artist-in-Residence, Alexandra Blum, to learn more about her artistic background and the connection between teaching and creating art. Ms. Blum strives to humanize the private expereince by bringing in different techniques that transform museum going into a shared technique.
(Naomi Huth currently works as an intern for the Public Programs Department at the de Young.)
On July 15th, I sat down with current Artist-in-Residence, Jeanine Briggs, to learn more about her artistic background, the journey and inspiration behind her found object artwork, and the ideas that created the participatory project of an early 21st-century Detritussaurus. Appearing in galleries, museums, public spaces, trade shows, corporate collections, and government offices, her work has been exhibited extensively in California and in New York City.
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.
June 3—What is that smell?
No fewer than 4 people came into the gallery today with a pressing interest in the smell that our presence here is creating. In fact, the building guy came by to see what the smell was. A primer: really good hides are generally smoked. Both Michael and I are working on hide. He is working on a buffalo skin, I am beading on deerskin. My skins are smoked. Smoke smell is one that I don't even really notice anymore, but if anyone ever comes up with a perfume oil called "Wow that traditional dancer is hot looking" it will have sage and sweetgrass notes with a finish of smoked hide.
June Artist in Residence Kim Shuck will be sharing her journey with us in the Kimball Education Gallery over the next month. Please check back soon to see how how her and Michael's experience unfolds...
June 2—Opening the Show
The day began with a gathered group of friends in the Kimball. My dad even came, and he's usually a bit of a rumor at my shows. I'm aware that the de Young is a world class museum, what I also know is that museums in general are trying for a less imposing vibe. Frequently when Native people have been in museums it is in the form of unattributed work and/or ethnographic displays. This month is very different. No one is taking this residency lightly. Having said all of that, we managed to create the atmosphere of a fairly laid back household celebration. Well-known flute player, Ogi, started us off with some music. It was, as usual, inspiring. Kanyon Sayers-Roods welcomed us to Ohlone territory and sang her version of the Grandmother Song. Cathrine Hererra, local Native and filmmaker was present as friend and event archivist. Additionally, there were many friends/artists/family present to help us 'warm' the space. It was stellar. We had guests all the way through really... Jerry Ferraz, local poet, curator of readings and guitar virtuoso made us some music. Our good friend and elder Dav Pate was present in spirit and in the form of some of his work, which will be on display on a rotating basis throughout the month. Mary Jean Robertson, current holder of a Native Local Hero Award and DJ, came around with music on CDs for when the party died down. It really didn't today, but the time may come... I could not have hoped for a better "first real day in the gallery".
Frances Escobar will be retiring this month after 25 years of proud service in the accounting department at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Escobar moved to San Francisco in 1957 from Seattle, Washington where she lived and studied for two years after moving to the United States from Tokyo, Japan. She started her career in accounting at Foremost (McKesson). Escobar is a lover of music and a longtime performer with the Ina Chalis Opera Ensemble.
We would like to thank Frances for her service. She will be truly missed. We hope to see her around the de Young and Legion of Honor for years to come.
Yesterday morning FAMSF director John Buchanan and Musée d'Orsay president Guy Cogeval discussed the exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay, which opens at the de Young Museum tomorrow, May 22, 2010.
In case you missed what some commenters are calling "the best Forum episode ever", you can stil listen online. In fact, we've embedded it in this very blog post! You can access it after the jump.
Birth of Impressionism runs through September 6, 2010. Later on that month, the de Young will host a follow-up show, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay. That exhibition opens September 26 and runs through January 18, 2010.
In celebration of the final days of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, we present an interview with Alameda resident Peter Solmssen about his work with the original King Tut exhibition in the 1970s.
During that time, Mr. Solmssen served in the State Department as deputy ambassador-at-large for cultural affairs, and played an instrumental role in bringing Treasures of Tutanhkamun to the United States.
“Coming Through Slaughter changed my life.” That is the answer I received from a friend, writer and fan of Michael Ondaatje. To aspiring authors there is no greater admiration. My only experience with Ondaatje thus far had been with the film, The English Patient, based on Ondaatje’s brilliant and harrowing novel of love in the midst of World War II. As is often claimed, the book was better than the movie, an Academy Award-winning Best Picture often described as a masterpiece. Hard to believe, yet Ondaatje proved me wrong. Having written memoirs, books of poetry, and novels, he has proven himself to be an exceptional and versatile writer. And always, beneath the novelist, in the foundations and soul of his writing, lies a poet.
His latest work, Divisadero, tells the story of families torn apart. By this description from guest reviewer Jhumpa Lahiri, Ondaatje ascribes his trademark of taking a story and unfolding the layers and intricacies of life to reveal its true character. “Every sign of the author's genius is here: the searing imagery, the incandescent writing, the calm probing of life's most turbulent and devastating experiences,” explains Jhumpa Lahiri.
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.
Martin Morububuna and Purago Marabe completed their one-month-long residency in the Kimball Artist Studio on November 1, 2009.
Martin created a vibrant mural showing Papua New Guinea as a panoramic collective of plants, animals, houses, boats, people and their bilas. Bilas is a word in Melanesian Tok Pisin that refers to the array of headdresses, necklaces, belts, armbands, and aprons that people use to adorn themselves for dance and ceremony. The mural expresses Martin’s wish for all people to honor the past and keep traditional values strong.
Community Mural: Legend of Ilakavetega
By Martin Morububuna
Once upon a time there lived Ilakavetega and her two granddaughters. Every day the granddaughters went out to the beach to fetch saltwater for the grandmother. The Boi bird would come to the girls and would sit on the rock and talk to them, and would even say things about their grandmother.
Todd and Meklit at home in the Kimball Gallery
The Fine Arts Museums solicit California artists and art groups to create site specific works and installations in response to the de Young's permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, or the building and its environment
Our newest podcast features FAMSF curator of ancient art and interpretation Renee Dreyfus, who talks about the 1979 Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition and the current Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Renee was on the curatorial team for the first Tut exhibition 30 years ago, and now heads up the FAMSF curatorial efforts for the current offering.
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.
In recognition of the 103rd anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, we're pleased to present a guest post by FAMSF assistant registrar Steven F. Correll.
Last December when several of the Fine Arts Museums registrars were looking through the de Young's offsite storage facility, senior registrar Stephen Lockwood found a series of ledger books that record the weather and daily attendance for the de Young beginning with its opening day in the 19th century. As we looked through the books, one particular ledger was most interesting:
Last week a team of journalists and museum staff journeyed to Cairo, Egypt for a week of shooting and research to produce a one-hour documentary and newspaper supplement for our upcoming exhibition,