Art Preview: SFMOMA Announces 2018 Exhibition and Programming Schedule

SFMOMA to Debut Major Vija Celmins and René Magritte Exhibitions in 2018

The Train: RFK’s Last Journey, Susan Meiselas, John Akomfrah and Alexander Calder Among the Highlights of SFMOMA’s Ambitious Exhibition Schedule

Museum Takes Its Popular “Send Me SFMOMA” Initiative Global with Partnerships in the U.S., Europe, Asia and New Zealand, Enabling Other Institutions to Share Their Collections in New Ways

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced details of its 2017–18 exhibition schedule and cutting-edge digital initiatives. One of the world’s foremost museums of modern and contemporary art, the newly expanded and transformed SFMOMA opened in May 2016, with nearly triple the exhibition space and a greatly augmented collection. Since then the museum has broadened its activities serving artists, scholars and more than 1.2 million visitors in its first year.SFMOMA logo 2

We are committed to presenting an expansive spectrum of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, revisiting the innovations of modern artists — including René Magritte and Robert Rauschenberg — and introducing our large audiences to the important and timely work of contemporary artists such as Vija Celmins, John Akomfrah, and Susan Meiselas,” said Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab Director at SFMOMA. “Since our opening last spring, we have welcomed more than twice the number of visitors the museum received historically, with more families and youth visitors than ever before. In the coming year, we look forward to engaging visitors with seven floors of dynamic art and design exhibitions, while connecting a devoted body of online followers to the riches of the collection.

Looking Back on the Opening Year

Since its May 2016 opening, the expanded and transformed SFMOMA, designed by Snøhetta, has served as an engaging gathering place for diverse audiences, enabling the museum to foster deeper ties with its community.

The museum can now display a greater breadth of its 34,000 works of architecture and design, media arts, painting and sculpture and photography, as well as postwar and contemporary art from its groundbreaking partnership with the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection. Currently on view at the museum are Julie Mehretu’s site-specific painting HOWL, eon (I, II) (2017), created as part of a new art commissioning program; a major Walker Evans retrospective, for which SFMOMA is the only U.S. venue; Soundtracks, the museum’s first large-scale group exhibition centered on the role of sound in contemporary art; and New Work: Kerry Tribe, the premiere of the artist’s immersive video installation, commissioned by SFMOMA, which offers insight into the world of Standardized Patients — professional actors trained to portray real patients in a simulated clinical environment as part of medical students’ training.

In support of SFMOMA’s mission to engage with the art and artists of our time, the museum has made two major curatorial appointments since opening, including the appointment of Eungie Joo to the newly established role of curator of contemporary art. The role cements the museum’s commitment to new generations of artists across all mediums, as well as new thinking and scholarship on a local, national and international level. Clément Chéroux, entering his second year as senior curator of photography, has brought a global perspective and deep expertise in the realm of modern and contemporary photography.

The new SFMOMA has become a place of conversation, collaboration and learning across disciplines, as nearly 50,000 K–12 students have been brought into the museum to explore the arts since the building’s opening. Public dialogue has flourished in the SFMOMA community through more than 100 events and programs, including Public Tours and Artist Talks. Coinciding with the 2017 FOG Design+Art Fair, the symposium Yours, Mine, and Ours: Museum Models of Public-Private Partnership brought together international museum leaders and visionary collectors to discuss the current and future state of collaboration between museums and collectors. Also in the past year, the Performance in Progress program brought three groundbreaking commissioned live works to the museum, and the new Modern Cinema film series, established by SFMOMA and SFFILM, presented more than 50 film screenings. In September 2017, the museum launched Public Knowledge, a two-year initiative in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library that aims to promote public dialogue on the cultural impact of urban change through artist projects, research collaborations, public programs, and publishing. Participating artists include Burak Arikan, Bik Van der Pol, Minerva Cuevas, Josh Kun and Stephanie Syjuco.

SFMOMA’s digital offerings also expanded greatly in the past year, with the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, offering pioneering digital experiences to visitors at the museum and online. The SFMOMA app, a 2017 Webby Award honoree with over 100,000 downloads, reinvented the museum audio guide with location-aware technology and unique gallery tours voiced by Errol Morris, Philippe Petit and the cast of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Other popular interactive elements include the digital photogram kiosk Self Composed, developed in partnership with Adobe Design, in the Pritzker Center’s Photography Interpretive Gallery and touch screens and digital tables in the galleries that allow visitors to explore artworks and the careers of artists more deeply.

SFMOMA’s restaurant In Situ also received rave reviews for its innovative concept and menu. It was awarded the San Francisco Chronicle’s Restaurant of the Year in 2016, named one of Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America in 2017 and became a finalist in the prestigious James Beard Awards’ Best New Restaurant category.

Coming Soon…

In 2018 SFMOMA will present major exhibitions of René Magritte and Vija Celmins, each of whom redefined the boundaries of art with their very distinct practices.

René Magritte, La chambre d_écoute (The Listening Room), 1952

René Magritte, La chambre d’écoute (The Listening Room), 1952; The Menil Collection, Houston, Gift of Fariha Friedrich; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A global exclusive presentation, René Magritte: The Fifth Season (May 19–October 28, 2018) will focus on the latter half of Magritte’s career, a period of remarkable artistic transformation and revitalization. Featuring more than 50 paintings and a dozen works on paper, the exhibition will reveal Magritte as an artist who subverts our expectations of the world around us. The Fifth Season will open with the artist questioning the modernism of his youth, experimenting with elements of Impressionism, Fauvism and Expressionism, and follow his developing strategies for illuminating the ways that paintings both create and expose the gaps between appearance and reality.

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1977

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Alfred M. Esberg; © Vija Celmins; photo: Don Ross

Spotlighting the work of one of the most important artists of her generation, Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory (December 2018–March 2019) will be the first North American retrospective of the artist’s work in more than 25 years. In a continuation of SFMOMA’s commitment to exhibiting and collecting artists who emerged in the 1960s, the exhibition will highlight Celmins’ “re-descriptions” of the physical world through art as a way of understanding human consciousness through lived experience. SFMOMA will present the global debut of this retrospective, which will feature 140 works including paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

The Pritzker Center for Photography, the largest space dedicated to photography in any art museum in the United States, will continue to highlight SFMOMA’s dedication to the medium with The Train: RFK’s Last Journey, examining a historically important event from different perspectives; Selves and Others: Gifts to the Collection from Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein, looking at the complexity of identity through portraits; and Carolyn Drake: Wild Pigeon, presenting a recent acquisition.

The Train: RFK’s Last Journey, March 17–June 10, 2018

Paul Fusco, Untitled, from the series RFK Funeral Train, 1968, printed 2008; © Magnum Photos, courtesy Danziger Gallery

Paul Fusco, Untitled, from the series RFK Funeral Train, 1968, printed 2008; © Magnum Photos, courtesy Danziger Gallery

On June 8, 1968, three days after the assassination of Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, his body was carried by a funeral train from New York City to Washington, D.C. for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Just two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and five years after President John F. Kennedy’s death, Robert Kennedy’s passing united diverse communities grieving the loss of a politician who had represented hope for much of the nation during a tumultuous decade.

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of his death, The Train: RFK’s Last Journey looks at this historical journey through three distinct artists’ projects shown together for the first time. Presented in three rooms, each dedicated to one artist, the exhibition features approximately 80 photographs, a video installation and a 70mm film projection.

This multidisciplinary exhibition shows how art can inform and expand our understanding of history through photographs, videos and documents from different points of view,” said Clément Chéroux, senior curator of photography at SFMOMA. “By bringing historical and contemporary works together in dialogue, we aim to demonstrate a fresh approach to photography at SFMOMA. Continue reading

Art Preview: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Presents Worldwide Exclusive Exhibition of René Magritte’s Late Paintings

René Magritte, the consummate surrealist painter, faced a question of conviction at the age of forty-four, as Europe was overwhelmed by the horrors of World War II. Already in possession of his classic style of painting, honed over the previous two decades, Magritte suddenly began to make paintings that looked almost nothing like his previous work. In this era of instability and upheaval during the German occupation of Belgium, he questioned the role of art and looked for a new direction and new meanings.

René Magritte, The Happy Donor, 1966

René Magritte, The Happy Donor, 1966; oil on canvas; Musée d’Ixelles, Belgium; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

René Magritte: The Fifth Season focuses on the latter half of Magritte’s career, from approximately 1943 to 1967, a period of remarkable artistic transformation and revitalization. Featuring more than 50 oil paintings and a dozen gouaches, the exhibition will reveal Magritte as an artist attuned to the paradoxes within reality, who subverted our expectations of the world around us. The subtitle “The Fifth Season”—taken from one of Magritte’s paintings made during the war years — evokes an alternative reality both within and outside the accepted conventions of time and space.SFMOMA logo 2

René Magritte: The Fifth Season will be presented exclusively at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from May 19 through October 28, 2018. With rarely-seen treasures from museums and private collections around the world, the exhibition will delve into the provocative themes found in Magritte’s paintings from the 1940s through the 1960s, when the artist emerged as a champion of the role of mystery in art.

René Magritte, La chambre d_écoute (The Listening Room), 1952

René Magritte, La chambre d’écoute (The Listening Room), 1952; The Menil Collection, Houston, Gift of Fariha Friedrich; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

(The exhibition, which follows the 50th anniversary of Magritte’s death in 2017, builds on SFMOMA’s longstanding relationship with the Magritte Museum in Brussels, Belgium, and was developed in partnership with the Magritte Foundation.)

Through nine immersive galleries the exhibition explores how Magritte (Belgian, 1898–1967) balanced philosophy and fantasy, irony and conviction, to illuminate the gaps between what we see and what we know. Magritte’s work creates a world beyond rationality, liberated from the traditional understandings of how artworks convey meaning. Continue reading

Art: “Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Born and raised in Norway, Edvard Munch (1863–1944) was one of the most celebrated and controversial artists of his generation. With only brief formal training in painting, Munch was largely self-taught. He was a prolific artist, creating approximately 1,750 paintings, 18,000 prints, and 4,500 watercolors, in addition to sculpture, graphic art, theater design, and film. Munch was associated with the Symbolist and Expressionist movements and their legacies. He exhibited widely throughout Europe, affecting the trajectory of modernism in France, Germany, and Norway. His influence can be seen in the work of such artists as Georg Baselitz, Marlene Dumas, Katharina Grosse, Asger Jorn, Bridget Riley, and Jasper Johns, among others.

Edvard Munch, Self-Portrai - Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940–43

Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940–43; oil on canvas; 58 7/8 x 47 7/16 in. (149.5 x 120.5 cm); photo: courtesy the Munch Museum, Oslo

Although Munch attained notoriety early in his career for his haunting depictions of human anxiety and alienation that reflected modern experience, he believed that his artistic breakthrough occurred around 1913 at the age of 50.Throughout his career, Munch regularly revisited subjects from his earlier years, exploring them with renewed inspiration and intensity. Self Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed (1940–43) was one of his final such works and it serves as a lens to reassess Munch’s body of work. Opening November 15 at The Met Breuer, the exhibition Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed (November 15, 2017February 4, 2018, The Met Breuer, Floor 3) will feature 43 of the artist’s compositions created over a span of six decades, including 16 self-portraits and works that have never before been seen in the United States.

The exhibition was on view at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (June 24–October 9, 2017). After the New York presentation, it will be on view at Munch Museum, Oslo (May 12–September 9, 2018).

The thematic arrangement of the exhibition will reveal the frequency with which Munch revisited and reworked certain subjects. It will present him as an artist who was as revolutionary in the 20th century, as he was when he made a name for himself in the Symbolist era. Major themes and motifs of Munch’s last paintings can be traced back to his earlier works. Displaying his early and late works together allows visitors to identify innovations in composition, treatment, and technique.

The first canvas in the exhibition—Self Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed—is also one of the last works the artist painted. It will serve as a touchstone and guide to the other works on view. This remarkable painting shows the artist’s bedroom, with a door opening to the studio beyond. The artist stands emotionless between the grandfather clock, which—having no face or hands—exists outside of time, and the bed, in which the span of a human’s life takes place.

Fifteen other self-portraits—a category to which Munch returned often—follow the artist’s path from youth to old age. These fascinating “self-scrutinies” as Munch called them are, by turns, documentary, confessional, psychological, and fictionalized.

Seven works in the exhibition will be shown in the United States for the first time: Lady in Black (1891); Puberty (1894); Jealousy (1907); Death Struggle (1915); Man with Bronchitis (1920); Self-Portrait with Hands in Pockets (1925-26), and Ashes (1925). Also on view will be Sick Mood at Sunset, Despair (1892)—the earliest depiction and compositional genesis of The Scream, one of the most recognizable images in modern art—which is being displayed outside of Europe for only the second time in its history.

The exhibition will include many deeply personal works from Munch’s own collection, now held by the Munch Museum, as well as works from institutions and private lenders from around the world. The paintings demonstrate Munch’s liberated, self-assured painting style as well as his technical abilities, including bravura brushwork, innovative compositional structures, the incorporation of visceral scratches and marks on the canvas, and his exceptional use of intense, vibrant color.

The exhibition is curated by Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas, Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with Caitlin Haskell Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture; Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Sabine Rewald, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Curator, and Michele Wijegoonaratna, Research Associate; and Jon-Ove Steihaug, Director of Collections and Exhibitions, the Munch Museum, Oslo.

At The Met Breuer, exhibition design is by Michael Langley, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Chelsea Amato and Anna Rieger, Graphic Designers; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of The Met Design Department.

A fully illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition. Edited by Gary Garrels, Jon-Ove Steihaug, and Sheena Wagstaff, the publication features a foreword by celebrated Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. It includes essays by Patricia Berman, Theodora L. and Stanley H. Feldberg Professor of Art, Wellesley College; Allison Morehead, associate professor, Queen’s University, Ontario; Richard Schiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, University of Texas at Austin; and Mille Stein, paintings conservator, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU). Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, the catalog is available in The Met Store (hardcover, $45). The catalog is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In conjunction with the exhibition, conductor Leon Botstein, soprano Kirsten Chambers, and The Orchestra Now will perform Arnold Schoenberg‘s operatic monodrama Erwartung (Expectation) on December 3 at 2 pm in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium (The Met Fifth Avenue). The program, which is part of the MetLiveArts Sight and Sound series, is called Schoenberg, Munch, and Expressionism. Tickets start at $30 (series, $75).

On Saturday, January 13, at 11 am and 2 pm, Family Tours at The Met Breuer, for families with children ages 3–11, will explore the exhibition. Space is limited; places will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Free with Museum admission.

The exhibition is made possible by Leonard A. Lauder. It is supported by an Indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Munch Museum, Oslo.

New-York Historical Society To Inaugurate Audubon’s Birds Of America Focus Gallery This November

Audubon’s Watercolors for The Birds of America and the Corresponding Plates to Rotate Monthly

This fall, the New-York Historical Society will welcome visitors to Audubon’s Birds of America Gallery, an intimate new gallery celebrating the Museum’s holdings of work by legendary artist John James Audubon, the world’s largest collection of Auduboniana. Each month a different watercolor model for The Birds of America will be displayed, paired with its corresponding plate from the double-elephant-folio series engraved by Robert Havell Jr. On November 10, just in time for Thanksgiving, the Wild Turkey will inaugurate the space. It will be the first time since 1827 that Audubon’s watercolor model, the engraved copper plate, and a print of plate 1 from The Birds of America will be reunited. The gallery—offering the only opportunity to see Audubon’s original watercolors with their related prints—is curated by Dr. Roberta J.M. Olson, curator of drawings.

1 WildTurkey_1863_17_001

John James Audubon (1785–1851), Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), Study for Havell pl. 1, ca. 1825. Watercolor, black ink, graphite, pastel, collage, and gouache with touches of metallic pigment and selective glazing on paper, laid on card; 39 7/16 x 26 3/8 in. (100.2 x 67 cm). Purchased for the New-York Historical Society by public subscription from Mrs. John J. Audubon, 1863.17.1

In a stroke of marketing genius,” Olson noted, “Audubon organized his magnum opus not by taxonomy, which was traditional, but according to his aesthetic judgment and which watercolors were ready for engraving. He believed this organic order resembled that of nature. It was also far more interesting for his subscribers, who received their prints in fascicles (groups) of five prints each—usually one large, one medium, and three small, all on double-elephant-folio paper.

2 WildTurkey_Copperplate AMNH

William H. Lizars (1788–1859), retouched by Robert Havell Jr. (1793–1878), after John James Audubon (1785–1851). Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), engraved copper plate for plate 1 of The Birds of America. Copper. Copper; 39 3/8 x 26 3/8 in. (100 x 67 cm). American Museum of Natural History Library, New York, Gift of Cleveland E. Dodge

The inaugural centerpiece will be the season-appropriate Wild Turkey: Audubon’s watercolor, together with the engraving and the copper plate on loan from the American Museum of Natural History. Audubon, who agreed with Benjamin Franklin that the turkey should have been selected as America’s national symbol, assigned it the place of honor as the first plate of The Birds of America. “The Gobbler” became his most famous image, and he used it for his visiting card and his seal—engraved with the motto “AMERICA MY COUNTRY.” For the initial exhibition, Audubon’s watercolor of the female turkey with her poults (chicks) joins the flock. Following the Wild Turkey, visitors can expect to see Audubon’s birds in the order that they were engraved, starting with the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Continue reading