I'm going to make a bold statement and say SFMOMA is one of my favorite museums...definitely in my top 5. So why is it so great? A big part of it is thanks to Doris and Donald Fisher. Who are they? - The Gap. That's right, not only did they give us our favorite sweatshirts from childhood, but now they given San Francisco a museum on par (if not better) than the most famous around the world. This happened in 2009, and you can read about here. So let's start with their incredible collection that's been broken up into some of the following exhibitions
Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art
An ongoing exhibition on Floor 5 of SFMOMA. Warning, this exhibit has the largest collection of Roy Lichtenstein's I've ever seen.
"This exhibition of works from the 1960s and beyond features Pop and Minimal artists, as well as the work of key figures exploring the human form as subject. The 1960s saw a fresh focus on the external world, with many artists shifting emphasis from the act of creation to the means of production and provoking dialogue about the nature of art itself. This presentation features works by Richard Artschwager, Philip Guston, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, among others." - SFMOMA
I just wanted to call out how gorgeous the building itself is - including these staircases you can take from floor to floor. Built by the world renowned architecture firm Snøhetta. If you want to nerd out on all the different nuances of the building you can here.
Approaching American Abstraction
"This exhibition of selected American artists explores the diverse approaches to abstraction developed since 1950, from the forceful brushwork of Lee Krasner to the contemplative canvases and reliefs of Ellsworth Kelly and the enigmatic wood forms of Martin Puryear. The variety of materials and techniques included in this presentation testifies to abstraction’s enduring potential as a form of artistic expression." - SFMOMA
I know what you're thinking...these don't look like the Frank Stella works we all know and are used to. Inspired by a visit to the New York Aquarium and a siting of the beluga whales he went on to make an abstract work for every chapter of Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
"[I tried] to let myself go, to see where he sent me, and what I found is that he left me at sea." - Frank Stella
This was the first time I've actually seen Sol Lewitt's famous wall drawings in person. If you don't know anything about them (or even if you do) I'd recommend listening to the 'A Piece of Work' podcast episode about these drawings.
I was used to seeing works by Cy Twombly that were similar to that of what you can see below. But the work above, Note 1, from the series III Notes from Salalah is quite different.
"III Notes from Salalah, [is] a series in which Twombly's signature blurring of the boundaries between painting and handwriting is magnified on an enormous scale"
German Art After 1960
On floor 6, there is another impressive collection of German Art.
German artists emerging after 1960 explored the postwar landscape—situated between recent disaster and rising prosperity—with a combination of skepticism, uncertainty, and excitement to begin anew. This exhibition features single-artist galleries devoted to leading German artists such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Imi Knoebel, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter. Showcasing the span of entire careers or significant artistic phases, the installation offers unparalleled insight into these artists’ development. - SFMOMA
Museums normally have a 'permanent collection' - but as mentioned before, these exhibitions shown above are made possible by the partnership established in 2009 between the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection and the San Francisco Museum of Museum Art, and the works aren't owned by the museum.
Below are some of the temporary exhibitions on view currently.
February 16, 2019–May 3, 2020
On floor 3 of the museum, you can see how Calder's work has evolved throughout the artists career (and technology as well).
Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976) revolutionized sculpture by inviting unseen forces of the natural world to participate in his art. The works in this exhibition manifest the ways the elements—including the movement of the sea and the blowing of the wind—provided both subject matter and inspiration for many of Calder’s mobiles. - SFMOMA
The Chronicles of San Francisco
May 23, 2019–May 31, 2020
One of the coolest things about this exhibition is that is free and open to the public. It's on the first floor of the museum, so it can be accessible without having to pay the entry fee (of $25).
"Celebrate the voices of our extraordinary, unique, and diverse city in The Chronicles of San Francisco, by internationally recognized artist JR. Over the course of two months in early 2018, the artist set up a mobile studio in twenty-two locations around San Francisco, where he filmed and interviewed nearly twelve hundred people from across the city’s multifaceted communities. In the completed work, a digital mural scrolls across a seamless bank of screens, bringing together the faces and untold stories of the people we encounter every day." - SFMOMA
1970s Photographs by Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips, and Hal Fischer
January 4–August 9, 2020
I'm not normally a huge fan of photography, but I really enjoyed this exhibition. Located on floor 3 of the museum. This group was on a mission to disrupt photography as we know it. An example of this is the work below by Donna-Lee Phillips - 100 Small Chairs, More or Less, which addresses the nature of photography, and its dependence on words for meaning .
Another work by Donna-Lee Phillips below called 'What Do I Mean When I Say Red? What Do You Mean? which "alludes to the ways that men and women see things, including color differently."
October 26, 2019–February 17, 2020
On floors 4 and 7 of the museum, Soft Power contains 58 works by 20 artists from 12 countries.
The exhibition SOFT POWER is about the ways in which artists deploy art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors. Appropriated from the Reagan-era term used to describe how a country’s “soft” assets such as culture, political values, and foreign policies can be more influential than coercive or violent expressions of power, the title contemplates the potential of art and offers a provocation to the public to exert their own influence on the world. - SFMOMA
"Producing juxtapositions of material and scale, [Nairy Baghramian's] work explores the relationships between everyday objects, and the human body and prompts us to consider form and meaning in the context of interior and exterior spaces." - SFMOMA
"...And because people are always more than just people, because we embody, channel, sublimate. Because we are one and many. Because we are structure and loss. I have the ambition to produce a piece in glass, in flags, in words, in metal, in clay titled tainted." - Hassan Khan
"[Cinthia Marcelle's] immersive installation, There is No More Place in This Place, engages the familiar vocabulary of an office, but with it's ceiling tiles in disarray. For the artist, the grid structure that supports these tiles represents the patriarchal system that has governed society for as long as we can recall." - SFMOMA
Hopefully you enjoyed that little view into SFMOMA. If you live in San Francisco or are just visiting, it's open daily except for Wednesday. Thursday's it's open until 9 - which was very convenient to be able to stop in after work.