FAMSF Blog

Not Your Average Picture: Installation of a 17-foot Photograph

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.  

Shi Guorui photograph
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In the Galleries: Robert, Calvin, Martha, and William Scott and Mila (ca. 1843–1845)

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.

Robert, Calvin, Martha, and William Scott and Mila, ca. 1843–1845
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Another Wave

In 2005, Bay Area artist Kay Sekimachi gifted the museum a seminal work, a miniature book—The Wave. The Wave comes from her series of accordion books that were inspired by the Japanese artist Hokusai prints from his own series Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. Woven in natural linen, Sekimachi used a painted-warp technique to imprint the repetitive pattern of the wave on the book’s covers and pages and a double-weave technique to create the accordion folds. The meditative quality of Sekimachi’s work belies the complexity of her techniques. Her work reflects a combination of influences— from the Japanese aesthetic comes her purity of form and reverence of nature and from her early Bauhaus training the control of geometry and symmetry, as well as, the exploration of the double-weave technique. 

Jill D'Alessandro, Curator, Textile Arts

The Wave, 2005, by Kay Sekimachi
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John Buchanan and Guy Cogeval Discuss Post-Impressionism on KQED's Forum

This past Monday, September 27, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco director John Buchanan and Musée d'Orsay president Guy Cogeval appeared once again on KQED's popular Forum radio program.

Starry Night Over the Rhone by Van Gogh
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Celebrate Mexico’s Bicentennial for Free

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.

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