Site-specific Art Commissioned for the de Young

For the opening of the new de Young in 2005, the Museums commissioned several leading contemporary artists to create site-specific works for the new building.

For the de Young German artist Gerhard Richter produced a large-scale mural from digitally manipulated photographs that together form a geometric black-and-white motif. The monumental piece, titled Strontium, is constructed of 130 digital prints mounted on aluminum with Plexiglas coating. It was originally installed in Wilsey Court, the central public gathering space of the new de Young.

California artist James Turrell created a “skyspace” for the museum’s Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden. Three Gems, Turrell’s first “skyspace” in the form of a stupa or dome, is built into a hill within the garden and features a view of the sky altered by lighting effects that change with light and weather conditions outside.

A commission by Andy Goldsworthy takes its inspiration from the unique character of California’s tectonic topography. Goldsworthy created a continuous crack running north from the edge of the Music Concourse roadway in front of the museum, up the main walkway, into the exterior courtyard, and to the main entrance door. Along its path, this crack bisects—and cleaves in two—large rough-hewn stone slabs.

Kiki Smith’s large-scale sculpture, a gift of Dorothy and George Saxe and the Friends of New Art, reinterprets David, Joanna, and Abigail Mason (1670) attributed to the Freake-Gibbs Painter from the de Young’s American Paintings Collection. Elements of the piece also evoke the unconventional layout and dramatic copper skin of new de Young.

Ed Ruscha was commissioned to create two large-scale paintings to flank his A Particular Kind of Heaven (1983), to form a spectacular, monumental triptych that is 34 feet long. The works’ large-scale, panoramic format and lucent chromatic light effects relate to a long tradition of American landscape painting, represented by such Hudson River School artists as Frederic E. Church and Albert Bierstadt, examples of which can be seen in the de Young’s American galleries.

Gerhard Richter: "Strontium," 2005

Strontium is temporarily deinstalled to support current contemporary art and programming initiatives.German artist Gerhard Richter has created Strontium, a large-scale mural for the new de Young derived from digitally-manipulated photographs, that together form a geometric black and white motif... View More

Andy Goldsworthy: "Drawn Stone," 2005

In 2003, the Fine Arts Museums asked Andy Goldsworthy to develop a proposal for a site-specific work that could be incorporated into the new de Young Museum. Like the intersecting diagonals of Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the museum building, Goldsworthy’s work is inspired by the unique... View More

James Turrell: "Three Gems," 2005

Commissioned for the de Young’s 2005 reopening is an installation by California artist James Turrell (b. 1943), best known for his visionary work with light. Created specifically for a grass-covered hill in the de Young’s Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden, the installation is a gift of Bernard and... View More

Kiki Smith: "Near," 2005

Kiki Smith’s large-scale sculpture Near, a gift of Dorothy and George Saxe and the Friends of New Art, reinterprets David, Joanna, and Abigail Mason (1670), attributed to the Freake-Gibbs Painter, a holding of the de Young’s American Paintings Collection. Elements of the piece also evoke the... View More

Ed Ruscha: "Triptych"

 Ed Ruscha was commissioned to create two large-scale paintings that flank his A Particular Kind of Heaven, 1983, which is in the museum’s collection, to form a spectacular, monumental triptych. Continuing the themes of the 1983 painting, the new panels each have the existing canvas’s dimensions of... View More