Friday, January 28, 2011

An incredible use of pencils

I just came across the website for an incredible artist. Check out Jennifer Maestre. She does amazing work with colored pencils. No, not drawings, but sculpture!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Henri Cartier-Bresson at the SF MoMA

Today included a trip to the SF MoMA. It has been a while since I have visited, there are two shows that I recommend:

Photography is their strength in terms of both their permanent collection and the special exhibits they have. The Henri Cartier-Bresson show ends January 30. It’s worth the effort to make the trip to see this one. Some work is familiar but many pieces are seldom shown. The show is deservedly large, commanding an entire floor. It’s a thorough retrospective spanning his career with work from all over the world. So many of the photos are like archetypes for their countries that they border on stereotypes. The photo of Dutch housewives scrubbing their sidewalks is placed next to image of Italian boys playing cards in a stairwell. It can’t help but make you snicker. And some are hauntingly serious. Like the one of African-American sharecroppers forced to live in a tent city after being evicted for registering to vote. My reaction to the show made me feel like I was paging through an atlas — but an atlas without maps. Is such a thing possible?

It is also the museum’s 75th Anniversary. The second floor has been re-curated. It’s always good to shake things up. I am always surprised when works of art look new just because they have been moved. There are also some hidden treasures pulled out for the show including works by Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud and Clyfford Still.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Six Maps of Arizona

I want to live in a country where we end a politician’s career at the ballot box. There are plenty of politicians I’d like to see go. Having crooked congressmen caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar suits me just fine. And one loves a homophobic, toe tapping republican getting busted in a men’s room. But what I do not want to live in a country where terrorists feel entitled to use violence against our elected officials. I do not want to live in Columbia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, etc.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Seeing a real masterpiece...

One more try, it was a member’s only ticketed entrance. I finally got a look at the post-impressionist show at the de Young. The crowds have been impossible. If they are going to promote these blockbuster shows, they just need to extend the hours all the time. Blockbuster might be the key word here. Like some of these hyped up movies, you can seem compelled to see them.

There are some shows that come through the local museums that I have returned to for a second and even third look. The Asian-American Modern Art show a few years back was one of those. A number of pieces I need to see a few times.

The post-impressionist treasure trove winding up at the de Young was, for me personally, more about seeing some of those “landmark” paintings I have seen all my life; in books, calendars, greeting cards, etc. Now I can say I have seen Van Gogh’s bedroom (and I also know the color saturation is often tweaked on the postcards). The real treat for me was seeing all the work by Édouard Vuillard. A painter I was less familiar with and found myself quite taken with his work.

Seeing some of these paintings is the same reaction I have every time I see the U.S. Capitol in person. We see it all the time on TV. It’s kind of an odd feeling seeing it in person when it is already so familiar. I imagine many people have a similar reaction to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time.

The most amusing part of the show was walking in and recognizing a familiar Renoir. I laughed to myself because I knew it from Masterpiece. I don’t think they make that game anymore that we used to love playing when I was a kid.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It feels like Marfa under the Bay Bridge

Today I visited Pier 24, the amazing photography museum hidden in plain site under the Bay Bridge. The current exhibit is from the collection of Randi and Bob Fisher and runs through February 28.
The exhibit showcases a stellar collection of the some best photography in the world. It's pretty much the all star team of modern photography with most photographers getting a dedicated room. Many of the works I've seen in various museum shows over the years. So much looks familiar, if not from museums, but from my own library of art books. Seeing so much of this caliber of photography at one time is a rare treat, The space is vast, calming and quiet.
The museum is free but you must make a reservation to visit. The crowd is very small. It is a feeling I have not had since visiting the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. It's a privilege to be surrounded by so much art in an uncrowded quiet space.

There's a rocket parked on the Embacadero

The Black Rock Arts Foundation is behind the marvelous Raygun Gothic Rocketship.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Arthur Szyk at the Legion of Honor

There are times when the smaller, lesser hyped up shows at museums are sometimes the best ones to see. The Arthur Szyk exhibit at the Legion of Honor is one of those small shows well worth checking out. The Japanesque show is great (there is just a week left). But be sure to walk down to the far end of the museum. Pass under the Spanish Ceiling and go further to the end. You’ll find a one room show of Szyk’s work.

The images will probably look familiar and you’ll recognize the style. Even if you haven’t seen the particular work shown, it feels familiar. There is that old, illustrated work of classic literature on your shelf with a few colorful plates, and they are probably the work of Arthur Szyk.