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SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Venue  |  Exhibitions  |  Reviews
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Light on a Surface

by Christina Catherine Martinez
It’s hard to clear one’s head of all the preconceived notions and packaged analyses about an artist before going to meet their work for the first time. I made the mistake of reading other reviews before seeing Garry Winogrand’s photographs at SFMOMA (where I’m counting the days until it shutters for redevelopment, and I’ll be left a few old friends shy). One included a particularly barfy comparison of his New York period in the 1960s to the popular television program Mad Men. On the first pass,... [more]
Posted by Christina Catherine Martinez on 3/24/13
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What's On Now: Jasper Johns Seeing with the Mind's Eye

Jasper Johns' 'Seeing with the Mind's Eye' is currently on view at SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art till   For nearly 60 years, Jasper Johns has found new ways to explore, as he once put it, "how we see and why we see the way we do." This major exhibition — the artist's first Bay Area museum survey in 35 years — represents the full range of his career, from his tremendously influential renderings of numbers, flags, and other symbols in the 1950s and 1960s to vibrant recent work.... [more]
Posted by Abhilasha Singh on 11/13/12
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Identity Outfitters

by Christina Catherine Martinez
Snaking through the rooms of SFMOMA’s recently opened Cindy Sherman retrospective, I felt disturbingly underwhelmed by portrait after portrait of the artist acting as her own costumer, make-up artist, hairdresser, and photographer, becoming in each photograph, a different woman. Whispering into their recorders and to each other, the critics sound-byte thesis statements echoed off the walls like sage axioms: “pictures are misleading,” “identity is a social construction,” “photography is implicit... [more]
Posted by Christina Catherine Martinez on 7/26/12
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Six Twelve-Year-Olds

by Kara Q. Smith
Six twelve-year-olds walk into a Rineke Dijkstra retrospective. They stood in each room, looking closely at each photograph, waiting for someone to share their observations. Again and again appeared the photograph of a young French man, Olivier, from the day he joined the military and over the next couple years. The pictures are big, almost life-size. The twelve-year-olds eyeball Olivier, he mutely stares back. They spend a lot of time on the first two pictures of Olivier: one from the chest... [more]
Posted by Kara Q. Smith on 3/31/12
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A Salutary Glimpse/Love Affair

by Kara Q. Smith
A regular round-up of best-of locals by the lights of the museum, SECA provides a continuity and perhaps the best yardstick of what the Bay Area thinks is the best thing it might be making.  Ascending the staircase of the SFMOMA, the most fitting compliment is the Fifty Years of Bay Area Art, an exhibition featuring SECA award recipients from the last half-century and one which everyone traveling to the current SECA exhibition must walk through before arriving at their destination. Providing a... [more]
Posted by Kara Q. Smith on 1/10/12
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Radios to Space-Aged Blow Dryers

by Liz Glass
Though I suppose that I should have been contemplating the politics of mass-production, the shifting cultural priorities of form and function, or the symbolic value of mid-century design in our contemporary market, but instead, I was just thinking: wow, I wish I owned that record-player.SFMOMA’s Architecture and Design department has brought the exhibition to us to prove, seemingly, that yes, Dieter Rams is the reigning zen master of design. A collection of objects—many designed by Rams for... [more]
Posted by Liz Glass on 11/28/11
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Parable through parabola: other sides of postmodern design

An explanatory placard before the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “ParaDesign” exhibition, penned by curator Henry Urbach, decodes “para” using the terms “beyond” and “abnormal” to describe pieces which fall outside the scope of conventional design.  But while Urbach alludes to the prefix’s multiple significations, he does not name them: alternate meanings include “at or to one side of, beside, side by side.” These are arguably more relevant interpretations, as “ParaDesign” functions as... [more]
Posted by Alex Cruse on 10/7/11
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Bill Fontana’s Sonic Sculptures

by Christina Catherine Martinez
The texture of a city can be difficult to get a handle on. But once grasped, it becomes a special pleasure to run your hands across it; the anxiety of inarticulateness is assuaged by material expression. I’m speaking here of the actual textures of a city that we take for granted, the stucco or clapboard, pavement or cobblestone, real brick and mortar, that is only thrown into relief once we left behind, but one may view art itself as a sort of manifest antidote to the insufficiency of... [more]
Posted by Christina Catherine Martinez on 6/6/11
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A Conversation with a Mark Bradford “Monster,” 2006

by Christina Catherine Martinez
Hello you big ugly thing. … I didn’t mean that. I just mean that you remind me of those collages in the McDonald’s near my parent’s house. All you need is a fluorescent tube running across your face.…. That came out wrong, I’m sorry. You’re bigger than those. Way bigger. That’s what’s important, I think. I think. I asked Andrew once-- … I asked him why everyone loves Mark Rothko paintings. We were in a gallery full of Rothko paintings and he told me that they were probably worth more than my... [more]
Posted by Christina Catherine Martinez on 4/18/11
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A Good, Long Look

by Franklin Melendez
      SFMOMA’s sprawling new photography survey, turns the high powered gaze of the camera onto itself, exploring over a century of peeping, spying, monitoring, snooping and all other forms of illicit looking facilitated by the handy-dandy technology of the lens. It’s an impressively researched archive of images that is as prescient as it might be paranoid. And like most brilliant exhibits, it elaborates on a simple historical premise: the invention of the gelatin dry plate which... [more]
Posted by Franklin Melendez on 11/1/10
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Old New Topographics

by Ava Jancar
      In his review of New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape as exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (October 25, 2009 – January 10, 2010), Tyler Green notes “The exhibition is a missed opportunity. The partial re-presentation of an important, 34-year-old show is curatorial rote recitation, a blown chance to present and re-contextualize the most important American art of the 1970s.”[1] He goes on to suggest that the exhibit was a wasted chance to... [more]
Posted by Ava Jancar on 8/9/10
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Mika Rottenberg’s Post-Feminist Wonka Factories

by Franklin Melendez
      Mika Rottenberg’s latest video installation, , 2010, premiering at SFMOMA’s New Work series, returns to some of her familiar preoccupations, exploring questions of the female body, co-opted female labor, race, class and globalization. These weighty issues play out through the absurdist whimsy of her Dadaist factories—strange, interior spaces that add a good dose of slapstick and fantasy to the old churning of the wheels of capital.  Ever since her initial splash in 2006, the... [more]
Posted by Franklin Melendez on 8/23/10
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Fishing the Fisher Collection

by Franklin Melendez
      Many in the art world are bemoaning the gradual extinction of the museum as a public institution, fearing its replacement by flashy private vanity projects that house even flashier collections funded by a seemingly endless influx of cash. And even those public institutions left standing are swiftly altering their operational models, shifting towards slicker, privatized programming to attract all the foot traffic that money can buy (the recent Dakis exhibition at the New Museum, for... [more]
Posted by Franklin Melendez on 6/29/10
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Introduction to Fisher Collection and the 75th Anniversary Exhibit at SFMOMA

Introduction to Fisher Collection and the 75th Anniversary Exhibit at SFMOMA Last Saturday, I visited San Francisco Modern Art Museum for the Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection exhibit. There are 160 pieces from the 1,000 plus Fisher Colletions on display. There were many impressive works and the profile and prestige of SFMOMA will increase dramatically once a new wing is build for this incredibly rich modern art collection.Several of my favorite artists are included... [more]
Posted by Matthew Felix Sun on 8/5/10
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A Flickering of Trivial Details

by Franklin Melendez
      Luminous in its flatness, the Luc Tuymans mid-career survey at SFMoMA brings together an impressive array of works, expertly selected by co-curators Madeleine Grynsztejn and Helen Molesworth from his prolific output of over 500 paintings. The second leg of the tour, which debuted at the Wexner Center last fall, is also its sole West Coast engagement. The show unfolds in no-nonsense chronological order, its only ostentatious flourish: re-creating the original install of key... [more]
Posted by Franklin Melendez on 2/23/10
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SFMOMA's 75th Anniversary Show

SFMOMA's 75th Anniversary Show SFMOMA is celebrating its 75th anniversary. My visit to the 75th Anniversary Show confirmed my impression of this important yet provincial institute.SFMOMA has accumulated a relatively impressive body of works from many important artists but the depth is rather shallow. The main draw to the locals in this anniversary show mostly lie on their relatively unknown collections, such as a semi-abstract Pollock and a very early Picasso. Interesting works by Max... [more]
Posted by Matthew Felix Sun on 8/5/10
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Singing the Body Electric

by Jackie Im
      In a darkened room, twenty-five faces – all in a neat row – are singing at you. Some with their eyes closed, some nodding their head to a beat you can’t hear, some in tune, some out of tune, all singing. There is no music other than the singing of these twenty-five individuals. There are too many voices – they’re not all singing in unison – and at first it becomes unclear what song they’re singing. Lyrics start to come forward: “hold on world, world, hold on/ it’s gonna be alright,”... [more]
Posted by Jackie Im on 11/2/09
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Bodies and Design at SFMOMA

by Joanna Szupinska
Bodies and design, although they might conjure the natural and unnatural, respectively, are not diametrically opposed to one another. Indeed, everything in the built world was at one time conceived and created by human minds, and to be very crass, to some extent by human bodies. It follows naturally that the designed world around us is not foreign, rather an extension of human nature. Sensate: Bodies and Design in the Architecture and Design galleries at SFMOMA, explores the collection... [more]
Posted by Joanna Szupinska on 9/14/09
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Frida Kahlo @ SFMoMA

by Christina Richards
Adorning the white walls of the SF MOMA this summer is the much anticipated Frida Kahlo exhibition. This show is not to be missed, as it's an opportunity to truly witness an extensive collection of work by such an influential artist.Her work is curated chronologically from the 1930s until her death. Throughout the exhibition, her provocative and symbolic imagery tells of her passionate political... [more]
Posted by Christina Richards on 7/6/08