SFMOMA Announces the Election of Three Trustees and Appointment of Two Senior Staff Members

Harry J. Elam, Jr., Pamela J. Joyner and Sonya Yu Join the Museum’s Board of Trustees

Davida Lindsay-Bell and Ann von Germeten Assume Senior Roles for the Museum

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) yesterday announced the election of three new members to its Board of Trustees: Harry J. Elam, Jr., Pamela J. Joyner and Sonya Yu. Each will serve a three-year term, effective immediately. The new trustees bring substantial experience in education, philanthropy, collecting, creativity and technology to their board service.

Left to right: Harry J. Elam, Jr. (photo: L. A. Cicero, courtesy Stanford University); Pamela J. Joyner; Sonya Yu (photo: Zack Lara); Davida Lindsay-Bell; Ann von Germeten

In addition, the museum announces the appointment of two senior leaders: Davida Lindsay-Bell joins as chief human resources officer and Ann von Germeten joins as chief marketing and communications officer.

New Trustees

HARRY J. ELAM, JR.

Harry J. Elam, Jr.; photo L. A. Cicero, courtesy of Stanford University

Harry J. Elam, Jr. is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities, the Senior Vice Provost for Education, the Vice President for the Arts and the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University.

Elam is an internationally recognized scholar on African American theater and performance, most particularly on the late playwright August Wilson. He is the author and editor of seven books, including the Erroll Hill Prize-winning The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson. His articles and essays have appeared in a wide variety of journals and collections in the United States and abroad.

Professor Elam is the winner of the Betty Jean Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching from the American Theatre and Drama Society, the winner of the Excellence in Editing Award from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the winner of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Theatre Research. He was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 2006 and, in 2014, awarded the Career Achievement Award from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education. In October 2019, Elam was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At Stanford, he has been awarded six different teaching awards.

In addition to his scholarly work, Elam has directed professionally for over 25 years. Most notably, he has directed many of August Wilson’s plays, including Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Two Trains Running, and Fences, the latter of which won eight Bay Area “Choice” Awards.

Professor Elam received his AB from Harvard College in 1978 and his PhD in Dramatic Arts from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1984.

PAMELA J. JOYNER

Pamela J. Joyner; photo courtesy of SFMOMA

Pamela J. Joyner has nearly 30 years of experience in the investment industry. She is the founder of Avid Partners, LLC, where her expertise has been in the alternative investment arena. Currently, Joyner is focused on her philanthropic interests in the arts and education.

Joyner is a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago and the J. Paul Getty Trust, chair of the Tate Americas Foundation and a member of the Tate International Council and the Tate North America Acquisitions Committee. She is also a member of the Director’s Circle of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a member of the Modern and Contemporary Art Visiting Committee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the education arena, Joyner serves on the board of the Art + Practice foundation in Los Angeles.

Joyner’s previous philanthropic positions included serving as a member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities; a trustee of Dartmouth College and chair of its Investment Committee; a trustee of the New York City Ballet; a board member of the School of American Ballet; a trustee and co-chair of the San Francisco Ballet Association; a board member of the MacDowell Colony; and a trustee of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, as well as other arts and educational organizations.

Continue reading

SFMOMA Announces First Large-Scale Exhibition of David Park in More Than 30 Years

Pioneer of Bay Area Figurative Art Is Celebrated with Career Retrospective of Approximately 125 Works

David Park: A Retrospective, April 11–September 7, 2020

At the age of 38, in late 1949 or early 1950, artist David Park (1911–1960) filled his Ford with as many of his Abstract Expressionist canvases it could fit and abandoned them at the city dump. The work he made next shocked the Bay Area art world. At a moment when serious American painting was dominated by abstraction, Park emphatically reintroduced the figure into his practice and began painting “pictures,” as he called them—a radical decision that led to the development of the Bay Area Figurative Art movement. On view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from April 11 to September 7, 2020, David Park: A Retrospective will be the first major exhibition of Park’s work in three decades and the first to examine the full arc of his extraordinary career.

Featuring approximately 127 works displayed chronologically and ranging from the artist’s early social realist paintings from the 1930s to his final works on paper from 1960, David Park: A Retrospective is organized by SFMOMA and curated by Janet Bishop, Thomas Weisel Family Chief Curator and Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA. The first galleries of the exhibition reveal a restless artist, in the first decades of his career, deftly moving from style to style in search of a distinctive voice that culminate in a rare group of surviving abstractions from the late 1940s. At the heart of the presentation will be a rich selection of the 1950s Bay Area Figurative canvases for which Park is best known.

David Park, Kids on Bikes, 1950; Myron Kunin Collection; © Estate of David Park; courtesy Natalie Park Schutz, Helen Park Bigelow, and Hackett Mill, San Francisco

I can’t think of any artist who could wield a loaded brush quite like David Park,” said Bishop. “He was a profoundly gifted artist who had two great loves: paint and people. Toward the end of his life, his fascination with the potential of his medium coupled with his appreciation for the human figure led to a group of canvases in which the universal humanity of his subjects comes pulsing through in the most powerful way.”

Though his art training was minimal enough that he was essentially self-taught, Park was a natural draftsman and his gift for rendering the human form was established in early childhood. After moving from his native Boston to California at the age of 17, Park lived for most of his adult life in the Bay Area. He became a beloved and highly influential teacher at both the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and the University of California, Berkeley, and he was at the center of a vibrant community of Bay Area artists including Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Wonner and others.

David Park, Four Men, 1958; Whitney Museum of American Art, purchase, with funds from an anonymous donor; © Estate of David Park; courtesy Natalie Park Schutz, Helen Park Bigelow, and Hackett Mill, San Francisco

In the spring of 1951, Diebenkorn saw an image of Park’s Kids on Bikes (1950) for the first time and remarked, “My God, what’s happened to David?” In the early 1950s, figurative painting in the United States was perceived as either old-fashioned or better suited for propaganda than the avant-garde. Park described his skepticism of abstraction as more personal than dismissive of the Abstract Expressionist movement as a whole. He noted in 1952, “I believe the best painting America has produced is in the current non-objective direction. However, I often miss the sting that I believe a more descriptive reference to some fixed subject can make. Quite often even the very fine non-objective canvases seem to me to be so visually beautiful that I find them insufficiently troublesome, not personal enough.” As Bishop notes in the catalogue, by “some fixed subject” Park really meant people.

Continue reading

SFMOMA Announces Major Career Retrospective of Influential Photographer Dawoud Bey

Nearly 80 Works Explore Wide Range of the Artist’s 40+ Year Career

Dawoud Bey: An American Project, February 15–May 25, 2020

Photographer Dawoud Bey has dedicated more than four decades to portraying underrepresented communities and histories. From portraits in Harlem to nocturnal landscapes, classic street photography to large-scale studio portraits, his works combine an ethical imperative with an unparalleled mastery of his medium. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents the artist’s first full career retrospective in 25 years, on view in the museum’s Pritzker Center for Photography from February 15 to May 25, 2020.

Featuring approximately 80 works, the exhibition, co-organized with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, spans the breadth of Bey’s career, from the 1970s to the present. Organized both thematically and chronologically, it ranges from his earliest street portraits in Harlem (1975–78) to his most recent exploration of the Underground Railroad (2017).

Dawoud Bey, Three Women at a Parade, Harlem, NY, 1978; courtesy the artist; © Dawoud Bey

The power of Bey’s work comes from the marriage of his extraordinary formal skill as a photographer with his deeply held belief in the political power of representation,” said Corey Keller, curator of photography at SFMOMA. “He sees making art as not just a personal expression but as an act of social responsibility, emphasizing the necessary work of artists and art institutions to break down obstacles to access, to convene communities and open dialogue. It has been truly inspiring to work with him on this project.

Dawoud Bey, Mary Parker and Caela Cowan, Birmingham, AL, from The Birmingham Project, 2012; courtesy the artist; © Dawoud Bey

Describing his process, Bey has said, “It begins with the subject, a deep interest in wanting to describe the Black subject in a way that’s as complex as the experiences of anyone else. It’s meant to kind of reshape the world one person at a time.”

Bey received his first camera as a gift from his godmother in 1968. The following year, he saw the landmark — and highly divisive — exhibition Harlem on My Mind at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The exhibition, widely criticized for its failure to include significant numbers of artworks by African Americans, nonetheless made an impression on young Bey and inspired him to take up his own documentary project about Harlem in 1975. Since that time, Bey has worked primarily in portraiture, making tender, psychologically rich and direct portrayals of Black subjects and rendering African-American history in a form that is poetic, poignant and immediate.

Dawoud Bey, Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, Harlem, NY, from Harlem Redux, 2016; courtesy the artist; © Dawoud Bey
Continue reading

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