Fine Arts, 2014

by Sura Wood
Sunday Jan 5, 2014

The biggest news of the coming year concerns the Anderson family, South Bay collectors who gave 121 postwar modern and abstract expressionist artworks to Stanford University. The core collection debuts in a new building on campus in the fall. In the meantime, 2014 rolls in with an array of exhibitions at Bay Area venues. Without further ado, a look at the year ahead.

Asian Art Museum Though a dose of meditation and physical discipline might be in order after the holidays, "Yoga: The Art of Transformation" bypasses the trendy aspect of the popular practice to delve into its origins and philosophical tenets, as well as its role in a variety of religious traditions. (through Feb. 21); SFMOMA continues to combine forces with other museums during its expansion project to keep its name and collections in the public eye, ergo "Gorgeous," which brings together masterpieces from both institutions to investigate the definition of a familiar if subjective term and its ambiguities. (June 20-Sept. 14)

YBCA SFMOMA also teams with YBCA for "Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa," a multi-disciplinary show in which artists question issues of gender, sexuality and violence in South Africa during three critical periods of the country's history: the 1960s, the post-apartheid mid-1990s and the present. (Feb. 21-June 29)

OMCA "Record Store" strolls down memory lane recalling the once lost, nearly forgotten, lately resurging pleasure of listening to vinyl recordings. Thousands of LPs will be offered up like ancient artifacts for visitors to touch, read, listen to and marvel at, while "Giant Robot" showcases the creative souls associated with the groundbreaking former punk magazine of the same name that hawked Asian and Asian-American pop/alternative culture and the edgy, multi-platform scene they spawned. (April 19-July 27); "Fertile Ground: Defining California Moments from Kahlo to Kilgallen" looks at how artists in the Golden State have influenced and been influenced by trends, cultures and the art world at large, beginning in the 1930s and moving through the present. Clyfford Still, David Park, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Barry McGee, Diego Rivera, Wayne Thiebaud, Manuel Neri, Mark Rothko and Chris Johanson are among those featured. (Sept. 20- Jan. 25, 2015)

Chinese Cultural Center "Between Modern and Contemporary: Fong Chung-ray" After a long career as a pioneering and respected abstract painter in Taiwan, the Bay Area-based Fong, now in his 80s, incorporates calligraphy, acrylics and found materials to forge an unusual visual language. (Feb. 15- May 31)

Contemporary Jewish Museum Arthur "Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah" highlights the work of Szyk, a Polish Jew whose Haggadah, created in 1940, was a visual commentary on the parallels between the exodus story and the Nazi persecution of the Jews. (Feb. 13-June 29); "Designing Home: Jews and the Mid-Century Modern" may be the first exhibition to explore the role played by Jewish architects, art patrons and design professionals in shaping the modern aesthetic of the American home during the mid-20th century. Vintage furnishings, textiles, assorted ceramics and dinnerware will be on view. (April 24- Oct. 6); "Arnold Newman: Masterclass" celebrates one of the most prolific, innovative and influential portrait photographers of the 20th century with his portraits of the famous - Marilyn Monroe, Picasso, Chagall, JFK - as well as 200 vintage black & white pictures, examples of early street photography and architectural studies. (Oct. 23-Feb. 1, 2015)

MoAD "Crosscurrents: Africa and Black Diasporas in Dialogue, 1960-80" examines the myriad ways in which Black Liberation movements have expressed themselves through music, visual art, documentary photographs, poetry and film, with a spotlight on the Bay Area, home to revolutionary thought, the Black Panther party and student activism. (through April 13)

Walt Disney Museum "Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair" Known for her eye-catching compositions, gorgeous color palette and modernist style, Blair's distinctive contributions endure in the artistry of animated classics such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, as well as theme-park attractions. Over 200 original artworks, including rarely seen conceptual pieces done in gouache and watercolor, trace the Disney designer/art director's development and her later work as a freelance commercial illustrator. (Mar. 13-Sept. 7)

Legion of Honor "Matisse and the Artist Book" It wasn't until the age of 60 that Matisse began to do original illustrations for livres d'artiste. But by the time of his death a quarter of a century later, he had completed 14 fully illustrated volumes, many of which are considered masterpieces. Among the seven rare books on view are "Poesies and Pasiphae." (Jan. 11-Oct. 12); The main thrust of "Intimate Impressionism" from the National Gallery of Art, an exhibition of 70 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist seascapes, landscapes, interiors and portraits on loan from one of Washington, D.C.'s most revered museums, is the process of painting in plein air that inspired practitioners such as Monet, Degas, Renoir, Sisley and Pissarro. Renoir's voluptuous young women, and his portrait of Monet, depictions of the artists' families, self-portraits by Gauguin and Vuillard, dancers and racehorses by Degas, and Cezanne still lifes round out the show. (Mar. 29-Aug. 3)

de Young Museum "The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress, 1933-36" The building of the new Eastern span launched a spate of photography shows. The latest one, a treat for engineering buffs, features a group of pictures by Peter Stackpole documenting the bridge's original construction during the 1930s. (Feb. 1-June 8); "Modern Nature: Georgia O'Keeffe and Lake George" explores work produced by the artist, from 1918 until the early 1930s, when she lived part of the year at Alfred Stieglitz's family estate in the Adirondacks. It was during this period she developed her signature style. (Feb.15- May 11); "Bouquets to Art," now in its 30th year, is simultaneously one of the most fun and beautiful events of the year, a spectacular display where floral designers strut their imaginative interpretations of artworks from the museum's permanent collection. (Mar. 18-23); "Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection" delivers an overview of postwar masterworks by the likes of Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Barnett Newman and the other usual suspects. (June 7-Oct. 12)

Cantor Arts Center "Flesh and Metal: Body and Machine in Early 20th-Century Art" Constructivism, Purism and Precisionism perceived beauty in machines, while the Dadaists and Surrealists worshipped at the altar of chance, accident and dreams. In this exhibition, European and American artists attempt to reconcile these schools of thought in paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos and illustrated books from SFMOMA's collections. (through March 16); "Her Story: Prints by Elizabeth Murray, 1986-2006" "The subconscious is what you paint about," observed Murray, a painter and draftsman whose emotionally charged prints, produced at Universal Limited Art Editions, are shown together as a group for the first time, along with a trio of paintings. (Jan. 22-Mar. 30); "Carleton Watkins: The Stanford Albums" commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Act with a major exhibition of Watkins's mammoth images of Yosemite Valley, the Pacific Coast and the Columbia River and Oregon. (April 23-Aug. 17); "Robert Frank in America," an insightful show of 125 photographs, sheds light on this seminal photographer's extensive work from the 1950s and the making of his 1958 book, "The Americans." (Sept. 10-Jan. 4)

San Jose Museum of Art "David Levinthal" Admired by iconic pictorial fabulist Cindy Sherman, Levinthal made his reputation early, sparking controversy in photographs of his disquieting tableaux created with kids' toys and miniature dioramas. For these artificial fictions, Levinthal staged lurid, sometimes menacing scenes with a menagerie of Barbie dolls, star athletes, pornographic imagery, action figures and political targets ripe for satire. He got his start down this treacherous road, in 1971, with fellow Yalie and "bad influence" Garry Trudeau ("Doonesbury") when the pair devised WWII vignettes using toy figurines. (May 8- Nov. 30)

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