San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Presents West Coast Exclusive of Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules

Major Retrospective Includes Vast Array of Work from the Boundary-Breaking Artist’s Six-Decade Career

Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, November 18, 2017–March 25, 2018

A fuse was lit in the 1953 art world when Robert Rauschenberg convinced artist Willem de Kooning to allow him to erase one of his drawings; fellow artist Jasper Johns executed the inscription within the frame: “ERASED DE KOONING DRAWING ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG 1953.” Now seen as a bombshell that shook the foundations of Abstract Expressionism, Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953) is an outstanding example of Rauschenberg’s irreverent yet incisive style, and it famously pushes the limits of what art can be.SFMOMA logo 2

This special work was acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from Rauschenberg through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis, an instrumental member of the board of trustees who befriended Rauschenberg late in her life. It now anchors the museum’s exceptional holdings of the artist’s early work and is a highlight in the West Coast exclusive of Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, on view at SFMOMA from November 18, 2017, through March 25, 2018.

Formerly presented at Tate Modern, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the exhibition’s iteration in San Francisco pays special tribute to SFMOMA’s close and longstanding relationship with Rauschenberg. From hosting his first retrospective — organized by Walter Hopps in 1976 — to spearheading the recent Rauschenberg Research Project — an ambitious digital resource published on www.sfmoma.org that makes art historical and conservation research about Rauschenberg works widely accessible — SFMOMA has long been devoted to this extraordinary and trail-blazing figure. This presentation is also dedicated to Phyllis C. Wattis, in honor of her generosity and cherished relationship with the artist and SFMOMA.

Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963

Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963; oil and silkscreen ink on canvas; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, gift of Susan Morse Hilles; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Robert Rauschenberg and Phyllis Wattis were kindred spirits,” said Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA. “Both were eager to discover new ideas that broke old boundaries. They relished life and art with expansiveness of spirit and always with a twinkle in their eyes.

A defining figure of contemporary art, Rauschenberg produced a prolific body of work across a wide range of media — including painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photography, and performance — frequently and fearlessly defying the traditional art practice of his time. Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules marks the first retrospective of the artist’s work in nearly 20 years, celebrating the depth and scope of his six-decade career. SFMOMA’s presentation emphasizes his iconoclastic approach, his multidisciplinary working processes and frequent collaborations with other artists.

Largely organized chronologically, the exhibition begins with the artist’s wide-ranging early work, from bold blueprint photograms and intimate photographs to his delicate Scatole personali (boxes filled with found objects). These galleries introduce Rauschenberg’s eagerness to experiment with and break from artistic conventions, his innovative approach to materials and his multi-disciplinary and collaborative nature, all of which were driving forces throughout his career. This early period plays out across three locales: Black Mountain College, a fertile ground for experimentation where Rauschenberg studied with Josef Albers and Hazel Larsen Archer, and undertook his first important collaborations with Susan Weil, Cy Twombly, John Cage and Merce Cunningham; North Africa and Italy, where Rauschenberg traveled with Twombly; and lower Manhattan, where he set up his early studios and worked in close dialogue with Jasper Johns.

Among the many highlights of the exhibition is Automobile Tire Print (1953) in SFMOMA’s collection, made when the artist instructed composer John Cage to drive his Model A Ford through a pool of paint and then across 20 sheets of paper. The layered paper and fabrics in his Black paintings and Red paintings led to the artist’s landmark Combines (1954–64), a body of work that breaks down the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Collection (1954/1955) and Charlene (1954) are presented together for the first time in almost four decades, providing a rare opportunity to see and compare the range of strategies Rauschenberg explored in the Combines’ formative stages. Monogram (1955–59), his landmark work assembled from a taxidermied goat with a painted tire around its body, anchors this presentation.

The exhibition continues by presenting key periods of the artist’s career in depth, including a gallery devoted to transfer drawings and silkscreen paintings. For the Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno (1958–60), Rauschenberg clipped pictures from magazines and newspapers, illustrating Dante’s epic poem with images from contemporary American life. Rauschenberg’s merging of classical themes, art history references, contemporary politics and pop culture culminate in the silkscreen paintings, such as the vibrant Scanning (1963) and Persimmon (1964). Rauschenberg also actively explored technological innovations for his performances and artworks in the early 1960s. Collaborations with Billy Klüver and a team of engineers lead to the inclusion of embedded radios in Oracle (1962–65). For the sound-activated work Mud Muse (1968–71) the artist constructed an enormous vat of vigorously spurting and bubbling mud. Originally conceived for an exhibition in Los Angeles and inspired by a hydrothermal basin in Yellowstone National Park, this presentation marks Mud Muse’s first return to California since 1971.

In 1970, Rauschenberg relocated his primary residence and studio to Captiva Island, Florida, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. These new surroundings prompted the creation of the series Cardboards (1971–72). SFMOMA’s Rosalie/Red Cheek/Temporary Letter/Stock (Cardboard) (1971), one of the earliest of the series, encapsulates this move with a mailing label from Rauschenberg’s New York studio to his Captiva address affixed to its front. Far from isolated in Florida, Rauschenberg constantly welcomed visitors, many of them artists, and continued to travel frequently. A trip to India inspired his striking, lively series Jammers (1975–76); a 1982 visit to China ultimately lead to the launch of ROCI (the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange), an intense seven-year project encompassing travel, art-making and exhibitions in over 10 countries. Rauschenberg’s own photos from this period of travel appear in many later works including SFMOMA’s Port of Entry [Anagram (A Pun)] (1998). 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.

The Whitney Museum OF American Art To Debut Frank Stella: A Retrospective, Opening October 30

The most comprehensive career retrospective in the U.S. to date of the work of Frank Stella, co-organized by The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, will debut at the Whitney this fall. Frank Stella: A Retrospective brings together the artist’s best-known works installed alongside lesser known examples to reveal the extraordinary scope and diversity of his nearly sixty-year career. Approximately 100 works, including icons of major museum and private collections, will be shown. Along with paintings, reliefs, sculptures, and prints, a selection of drawings and maquettes have been included to shed light on Stella’s conceptual and material process. Frank Stella: A Retrospective is organized by Michael Auping, Chief Curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in association with Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, with the involvement of Carrie Springer, Assistant Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

The exhibition will be on view at the Whitney from October 30, 2015 through February 7, 2016, and at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth from April 17 through September 4, 2016; it will subsequently travel to the DeYoung Museum, San Francisco. This will be the inaugural special exhibition and the first career retrospective devoted to a living artist in the Whitney’s new downtown home on Gansevoort Street. It will fill the entire 18,000-square-foot fifth floor—the Museum’s largest gallery for temporary exhibitions. Annabelle Selldorf, Selldorf Architects, is doing the exhibition design for the Whitney installation.

A Stella retrospective presents many challenges,” remarks Auping, “given Frank’s need from the beginning of his career to immediately and continually make new work in response to previous series. And he has never been timid about making large, even monumental, works. The result has been an enormous body of work represented by many different series. Our goal has been to summarize without losing the raw texture of his many innovations.”

It’s not merely the length of his career, it is the intensity of his work and his ability to reinvent himself as an artist over and over again over six decades that make his contribution so important,” said Weinberg. “Frank is a radical innovator who has, from the beginning, absorbed the lessons of art history and then remade the world on his own artistic terms. He is a singular American master and we are thrilled to be celebrating his astonishing accomplishment.

Frank Stella.   Die Fahne hoch!,   1959.  Enamel on canvas, 121 5/8 x 72 13/16 in.  Whitney  Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene M. Schwartz and purchase, With funds from the John I.H. Baur Purchase Fund; the Charles and Anita Blatt Fund; Peter M. Brant; B.H. Friedman ; the Gilman Foundation, Inc.; Susan Morse Hilles; The Lauder Foundation;  Frances and Sydney Lewis; the Albert A. List Fund; Philip Morris Incorporated; Sandra Payson;  Mr. and Mrs. Albrecht Saalfied; Mrs. Percy Uris; Warner Communications, Inc. and the National Endowment for the Arts  75.22  © 2014 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frank Stella. Die Fahne hoch!, 1959. Enamel on canvas, 121 5/8 x 72 13/16 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene M. Schwartz and purchase,
With funds from the John I.H. Baur Purchase Fund; the Charles and Anita Blatt Fund; Peter M. Brant;
B.H. Friedman ; the Gilman Foundation, Inc.; Susan Morse Hilles; The Lauder Foundation;
Frances and Sydney Lewis; the Albert A. List Fund; Philip Morris Incorporated; Sandra Payson;
Mr. and Mrs. Albrecht Saalfied; Mrs. Percy Uris; Warner Communications, Inc. and the National
Endowment for the Arts 75.22 © 2014 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Born in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1936, Frank Stella attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and then Princeton University, where he studied art history and painting. In college, he produced a number of sophisticated paintings that demonstrated his understanding of the various vocabularies that had brought abstract painting into international prominence. After graduating in 1958, Stella moved to New York and achieved almost immediate fame with his Black Paintings (1958–60), which were included in The Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition Sixteen Americans in 1959–60.

The Leo Castelli Gallery in New York held Stella’s first one-person show in 1962. The Museum of Modern Art, under William Rubin’s stewardship, presented his first retrospective only a few years later, in 1970, when Stella was only thirty-four years old. A second retrospective was held at MoMA in 1987. Since then, Stella has been the subject of countless exhibitions throughout the world, including a major retrospective in Wolfsburg in 2012. Frank Stella: A Retrospective is the first survey of the artist’s career in the U.S. since 1987. He was appointed the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University in 1983. “Working Space,” his provocative lecture series (later published as a book), addresses the issue of pictorial space in postmodern art. Stella has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the 2009 National Medal of Arts and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center, as well as the Isabella and Theodor Dalenson Lifetime Achievement Award from Americans for the Arts (2011) and the National Artist Award at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen (2015).

Frank Stella, Gobba, zoppa e collotorto, 1985. Oil, urethane enamel, fluorescent alkyd, acrylic, and printing ink on etched magnesium and aluminum. 137 x 120 1/8 x 34 3/8 in. (348 x 305 x 87.5 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize Fund; Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment 1986.93. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Frank Stella, Gobba, zoppa e collotorto, 1985. Oil, urethane enamel, fluorescent alkyd, acrylic, and printing ink on etched magnesium and aluminum. 137 x 120 1/8 x 34 3/8 in. (348 x 305 x 87.5 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize Fund; Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment 1986.93. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Throughout his career, Stella has challenged the boundaries of painting and accepted notions of style. Though his early work allied him with the emerging minimalist approach, Stella’s style has evolved to become more complex and dynamic over the years as he has continued his investigation into the nature of abstract painting.

Adam Weinberg and Marla Price, Director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, note in the directors’ foreword to the catalogue, “Abstract art constitutes the major, and in many ways, defining artistic statement of the twentieth century and it remains a strong presence in this century. Many artists have played a role in its development, but there are a few who stand out in terms of both their innovations and perseverance. Frank Stella is one of those. As institutions devoted to the history and continued development of contemporary art, we are honored to present this tribute to one of the greatest abstract painters of our time.

The exhibition begins with rarely seen early works, such as East Broadway(1958), from the collection of Addison Gallery of American Art, which show Stella’s absorption of Abstract Expressionism and predilections for colors and composition that would appear throughout the artist’s career.

Stella’s highly acclaimed Black Paintings follow. Their black stripes executed with enamel house paint were a critical step in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism. The exhibition includes such major works as Die Fahne hoch! (1959), a masterpiece from the Whitney’s own collection, and The Marriage of Reason and Squalor II (1959) from The Museum of Modern Art’s collection. A selection of the artist’s Aluminum and Copper Paintings of 1960–61, featuring metallic paint and shaped canvases, further establish Stella’s key role in the development of American Minimalism.

Even with his early success, Stella continued to experiment in order to advance the language of abstraction. The chronological presentation of Stella’s work tracks the artist’s exploration of the relationship between color, structure, and abstract illusionism, beginning with his Benjamin Moore series and Concentric Square Paintings of the early 1960s and 70s—including the masterpiece Jasper’s Dilemma (1962). In his Dartmouth, Notched V, and Running V paintings, Stella combines often shocking color with complex shaped canvases that mirror the increasingly dynamic movement of his painted bands. These were followed by the even more radically shaped Irregular Polygon Paintings, such as Chocorua IV (1966) from the Hood Museum, with internally contrasting geometric forms painted in vibrant fluorescent hues; and the monumental Protractor Paintings, such as Harran II (1967) from the Guggenheim‘s collection, composed of curvilinear forms with complex chromatic variations. Continue reading