Summer’s End in San Francisco at MOMA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - Photo by Karen Winton

August is a month made for travel…and if you can travel far afield, all the better. So last week we flew clear across the country and visited San Francisco’s famed Museum of Modern Art. And, as you shall see, was it ever worth the trip!

The first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to modern and contemporary art, SF MOMA is also one of the largest of its kind in the world. As you can imagine, we had our hands full taking in its 170,000 square feet of exhibition space—home to an exquisite collection of over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts.

So little time, so much to see! Attempting to choose our favorite pieces from among these artistic riches must certainly qualify as yoeman’s work of the first order. Nevertheless, here are a few highlights from our trip.

[Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.]

Notes on Selected Pieces

Thumbnail #1:
clinamen v.2
(Céleste Boursier-Mougenot)
Floating porcelain bowls clink together as they circulate gently on water, producing a percussive soundscape of random musicality. The French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot has brought the architectural feature of the gazing pool indoors to create what he describes as “a kind of dream.” He explains, “The bowls are moved by an invisible force, and the presence of water is fascinating. It makes for a totally natural connection between the objects.… I am spontaneously drawn by this type of state, between incertitude and floating.”

Thumbnail #5:
Roy I
(Chuck Close)
Close has admired the subject of this painting, Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, since his student days. In 1963 he made the short trip from Yale University to the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York to visit a Lichtenstein exhibition, where he also purchased a lithograph by the artist. Here Close transforms his predecessor’s characteristic style into a visual vocabulary of his own. Like Lichtenstein’s benday dots, the individual gridded units that form Close’s work are both marks to be appreciated in their own right and blots of paint that make up a larger image.

Thumbnail #7:
Frieda and Diego Rivera
(Frida Kahlo)
In this full-length portrait, Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, face the viewer directly. Although the background is nondescript, the Spanish inscription above Kahlo’s head notes that she created the painting in San Francisco. Rivera was working on three murals here at the time, his job as an artist made plain by the palette and brushes he holds.

Rivera’s blocky body looms large over Kahlo’s. Her impossibly tiny feet, the delicate placment of her hand on—not in—his, and the slight incline of her head cast her in the role of demure wife. Yet her boldly colored clothes, richly detailed jewelry, and flushed cheeks make her the more vibrant and appealing figure of the two. She is the one who draws and holds our attention. And while Rivera may carry the tools of an artist, the inscription reminds us that in this portrait, we see Kahlo’s hand at work.

San Francisco MOMA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art [Source]

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