FAMSF Blog

Contemporary Tradition: Melissa Cody Visits the de Young’s Navajo Textile Collection

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.

Melissa Cody
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The Gifts that Keep on Giving

Like or not, the holiday gift-giving season is upon us, the time of year we begin making a list and checking it twice. It’s a good thing that Christmas and Hanukkah only come around once a year, what with all the stress gift selection causes. In 17th- and 18th-century France, however, the fine art of gift giving was a yearlong endeavor. Many objects on display at the Legion of Honor in the special exhibition Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette are representative of the highly developed gift-giving culture utilized by the monarchy to solidify its rule.

Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory (France, established 1756). Vase: “Jardin á dauphins,” 1781. Hard-paste porcelain. Musée du Louvre, Département des Objets d’Art.

Vase
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Instrument in Progress: Chris Black

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.

MoniqueBlack1
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Choreographer as Sculptor: Instrument in Progress

De Young Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson is putting the finishing touches on Instrument, the culminating performance of her yearlong fellowship inspired in part by Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance (on display at the de Young through February 17, 2013). To create this work, Jenkinson invited three choreographers to make movement on her body, which she’ll integrate with her own choreography. In October, we posted about the first of these three collaborations, and today, we check in with Jenkinson and choreographer Amy Seiwert in the second installment in this three-part blog series.

Seiwert1
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Let Them Eat Turkey

Thanksgiving is the time when you get to use all the best stuff in your kitchen: the gravy boat, the fancy napkins, and, of course, the turkey deep fryer. Louis XIV and the other French monarchs who succeeded him obviously didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but they did bring out the good stuff when setting the table. Some of the objects in Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, open through March 31, 2013 at the Legion of Honor, are examples of these items; they’re just like the things you set your table with, but with a “royal” twist.

You’ve probably moved past the first dining room set that you bought off Craigslist, but no matter how nice your table is, you likely didn’t have it custom-made to feature your royal markings. Louis XIV’s mosaic tabletop is made of semi-precious stones and features, among other things, some of his official emblems, like the lyre of Apollo and fleurs-de-lis. It was made by the Gobelins manufactory, a workshop responsible for many of the objects used to decorate Versailles and the other royal residences.

Mosaic tabletop with emblems of Louis XIV, last quarter of the 17th century.
Gobelins Manufactory (France, established 1662)
Marble and pietre dure (hardstones)
©RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

Louis XIV tabletop
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Have Turban Will Travel

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.

Turban, 200–600. Peru, South Coast, Nasca. Cotton cord wrapped with a band of camelid fiber fringe. The Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Collection Gift of Caroline McCoy-Jones. 2000.17.5

Wari Turban
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