In 2014, artist James Turrell (b. 1943) contacted the Museums to review Three Gems, the “skyspace” sited in a grass-covered hill in the Osher Sculpture Garden. The work was approaching its tenth anniversary at the de Young, having been installed during the opening of the museum’s new building in 2005.
At age 23, Frank Stella (b. 1936) burst onto the New York art scene as an already mature artist with the inclusion of his now-legendary “black paintings” in the Sixteen Americans exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Seeming to banish illusionistic space and pictorial allusions, as well as the possibility of narrative content, the black artworks served as embodiments of Stella’s assertion that a painting was “a flat surface with paint on it—nothing more.”
Ed Ruscha’s A Particular Kind of Heaven joins works by El Anatsui and Cornelia Parker currently on view in Gallery 16 at the de Young. An American artist associated with the Pop art and Conceptual art movements, Ruscha (b. 1937) is known for his paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs that record the shifting emblems of American life over the second half of the last century. The artist’s enigmatic texts and images illuminate the poetic possibilities—and prosaic limitations—of written, visual, and verbal communications.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco hold the largest and most important collection of Teotihuacan murals outside of Mexico. They came to the de Young as part of the bequest of the Harald Wagner estate. Wagner, a San Francisco–based architect, was a passionate art collector who had spent several years living in Mexico. In the mid-1960s he purchased a number of mural fragments from the site of Teotihuacan, an hour north of Mexico City.