Welcome to 2013 in Fine Art!
The New Year has arrived, and with it the biggest shockwave for the local art world, the extended closure of SFMOMA, which will be shut down for nearly three years - count em. Beginning June 2, the original Mario Botta-designed building undergoes a large expansion project designed to accommodate the Fisher collection and double the facility's gallery space, though the Swiss architect's elegant signature atrium is likely to be an unfortunate casualty. The enlarged museum will reopen to the public sometime in 2016. In the meantime, SFMOMA has arranged for outdoor installations, site-specific commissions and partnerships with other venues for pop-up shows around town, the latter a dubious prospect at best. It's never easy when a prominent institution takes a time-out, but it would have been nice if they had established a dedicated beachhead of their own during the construction period, especially given the amount of time it won't be open for business.
SFMOMA's presence on the scene will definitely be missed. Come springtime, they'll present a major retrospective of the work of Garry Winogrand, a street photographer and chronicler of American life influenced by the likes of Robert Frank, Walker Evans and Cartier-Bresson. The first comprehensive exhibition the artist has had in a quarter-century includes over 300 images (Mar. 9-June 2).
In another notable transition, the Exploratorium, after 43 years at the Palace of Fine Arts, moves to its new home at Pier 15, where it can spread out in its campus-like setting on San Francisco Bay. It's slated to open its doors April 17. We'll see what the future holds for them, SFMOMA and the rest of us, as well as the Contemporary Jewish Museum and FAMSF, which, as of this writing, do not have permanent directors in place.
Although there are plenty of exhibitions to choose from and some true standouts like the Asian's exciting "Terracotta Warriors" show opening at the end of February, this year, at least so far, is shaping up to be one of the least thrilling in recent memory. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong. Check out some of what's in store below and judge for yourself.
GLBT History Museum "Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates from Other Collections" illuminates queer lives in a dozen different nations with materials that combine art and history. Institutions based in Italy, Australia, Belgium, South Africa, the Philippines, Hungary, England, the U.S. and others participated in the show, each contributing videos, photographs, artifacts and documents representing the experiences of one or two individuals, some famous, others anonymous. (Opens Feb. 1)
Contemporary Jewish Museum "Kehinde Wiley - The World Stage: Israel" A young African-American artist exploring diasporas, cultural hybrids and identity, Wiley trolled Israel's discos, malls, bars and sporting events for the subjects of these 18 portraits of men from diverse cultural backgrounds - Ethiopian Jews, Jewish and Arab Israelis - impacted by hip-hop culture. (Feb. 14-May 27); "Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg" Nostalgia for and preoccupation with Ginsberg and the band of happy warriors of the Beat Generation abides. In over 80 photographs here with personalized captions penned by the poet, Ginsberg captures the lads - William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso and Jack Kerouac - who were his co-conspirators and close companions during the high times of those rebel days. (May 23-Sept. 9)
Berkeley Art Museum "Silence," inspired by the late provocateur and "chance operations" guru John Cage, celebrates the centenary of the composer's birth with a show that considers the absence of sound as a subject and point of departure for cinema and contemporary art. It includes works by an eclectic group: Joseph Beuys, Stan Brakhage, Marcel Duchamp, Nat Dorsky, Rene Magritte, Maya Deren, Warhol and Rauschenberg, among others. (Jan. 30-April 28); the final performances of San Francisco choreographer Anna Halprin's 1965 piece "Parades and Changes" are staged in conjunction with a display of scores, and documentation of the history of dance. (Feb.15-April 21); "Yang Fudong" The dreamlike films, installations and painterly photography by the meteoric star of contemporary Chinese art express the anxieties, ambivalence and disconnection of a fast-changing materialistic society. (mid-Aug. through Dec.)
OMCA "Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu" Though fragments of Hung Liu's seductive body of work have surfaced over the years at Bay Area venues, this show is the first comprehensive survey of the prominent Chinese-born, Oakland-based painter, whose primary subjects are the mutable nature of memory and the arduous history of China, especially the hardships endured by women. The show features an array of paintings, personal photos and private sketchbooks with examples of art produced before the artist moved to the U.S. (Mar. 16-June 30)
De Young "Rembrandt's Century" Who can resist Rembrandt? Not I. This selection of etchings by the 17th-century painter, which demonstrates his mastery of printmaking, along with engravings, ink drawings and watercolors by his predecessors and acolytes, runs concurrently with "Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis," a rarely seen collection from The Hague's gem-like repository of artworks from the Golden Age. (Jan. 26-June 2);" Eye Level in Iraq: Photographs by Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson" is comprised of pictures from the front taken by a pair of experienced photojournalists working outside of the military "embed" program. Their images depict the impact and aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (Feb. 9-June 16)
The Asian Art Museum launches its 10th anniversary in the Civic Center location transformed by Italian architect Gae Aulenti, who died late last year, with "China's Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy." China has lent 10 statues - the maximum allowed outside the country - of the 8,000 discovered so far in an ancient tomb, as well as 120 objects excavated from the vast necropolis. The astonishing archaeological find in 1974 unearthed a literal legion of eerily life-like, life-size soldiers, chariots and horses. Like the Egyptian pharaohs, the first emperor was obsessed with immortality and with proving that, yes, you can take it with you. (Feb. 22-May 27); "In the Moment: Japanese Art from the Larry Ellison Collection" demonstrates that million-dollar catamarans are not the Oracle mogul's sole interest. The exhibition of Ellison's holdings coincides with the America's Cup races in the summer (June 28-Sept. 22); "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia" Uncovered in 1879 at Babylon, and dating back to 539 BCE, the Cylinder, which appears to encourage human rights and freedom of religion in the Persian Empire, is considered one of the great surviving relics of the ancient world. (Aug. 9-Sept. 20)
Cantor Arts Center "The Jameel Prize: Art Inspired by the Islamic Tradition," which illustrates how artists and designers translate historic traditions into contemporary art (through Mar. 10), is a major show, but some smaller exhibitions also merit attention, like one showcasing 24 works by that ubiquitous appropriator, Andy Warhol. "More Than Fifteen Minutes: Andy Warhol and Celebrity" displays prints, drawings, and Polaroid photographs of Mao Tse Tung, Mick Jagger, and other famous mugs (Feb. 20-June 30), while "Inspired by Temptation: Odilon Redon and Saint Anthony" presents three lithographic albums by the great French symbolist, inspired by Flaubert's 1874 novel about a third-century monk who retreats to the desert to contemplate God, and is visited by demons and erotic visions instead (July 30-Oct. 20); and in the fall, look forward to "Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video," an important exhibition from the formidable African-American artist who takes up gender, race and class in American society, without flinching. (Oct. 16-Jan. 5, 2014)
San Jose Museum of Art has two cutting-edge Asian-themed shows on tap: "Rising Dragon: Contemporary Chinese Photography" (Feb. 20-June 30) and "New Stories from the Edge of Asia: This/That" (Feb. 21-Sept. 15). Artists channel Greek mythology to plumb the unconscious mind and address race, war and desire for "Swans, Swine, and Sirens" (April 18-Dec. 1); and in "Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage," the phenomenally successful portrait photographer behind those splashy, theatrically staged "Vogue and Vanity Fair" magazine spreads "branches" out, extending her oeuvre to landscapes and interiors. (June 6-Sept. 8)