de Young Museum
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
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Museum image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

de Young Museum
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118

Ordinary Objects / Wild Things
December 15, 2018 – June 23, 2019

Artists with interest in technical considerations such as reflection and reproduction have engaged with the still life genre for centuries. In its seventeenth-century heyday, verisimilitude was deemed a critical component of the technical success of any such work, ostensibly providing an accurate record of inanimate objects—often layered with symbolic content. In today’s artistic practice, however, such precision is no longer a categorical requirement. Though artists continue to render common things in their artwork for both symbolic and literal ends, the object’s essence is routinely conveyed in myriad ways. The artworks on view in this gallery demonstrate a diversity of approaches taken by artists working on paper over the past fifty years to representing some of the common objects with which we surround ourselves today, deploying ordinary objects to extraordinary ends.

William Bailey’s etching conforms to our expectations of a still life—the ceramic vessels are arranged credibly, masking the fact that they are drawn from memory rather than recording a literal tableau. But other works on view in this exhibition go beyond such plausible displays. In some, the everyday articles have turned “wild,” redesigned and repositioned for unconventional and unexpected use. In Willie Cole’s personal lexicon, ironing boards—which he transforms into printing plates, their impressions simultaneously representative of slave ships and the unknown women who—deprived of freedom—provided domestic services throughout the Antebellum South. Meanwhile, the giant electrical gadget at the center of Oldenburg’s Three-Way Plug, suggests a buoy or a floating building rather than merely a source of power.

Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey
November 17, 2018 - April 7, 2019

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) are proud to announce Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey, debuting at the de Young museum on November 17. The first exhibition at FAMSF dedicated to the work of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) will explore two themes central to his career: the relationships that shaped his life and work, and his quest to understand spirituality, both his own and that of other cultures he encountered. Through an exceptional partnership with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, more than sixty Gauguin works will be on view—ranging from oil paintings and works on paper to wood carvings and ceramics—alongside art of the Pacific Islands from the FAMSF collection. Combined, these works encompass distinctive phases of Gauguin’s career to show the development of his ideas, the scope of his oeuvre, and the inspiration he found in New Zealand, the Marquesas Islands, and Tahiti.

"The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have the largest repository of works on paper in the western United States, including numerous works by Gauguin—among them, The Woman from Arles, one of his most important drawings,” says Melissa Buron, Director of the Art Division at FAMSF. “Putting these works on view with Gauguin’s stunning oil paintings provides an unprecedented opportunity for our collection to shine and take its place in the larger historical narrative.”

Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey will feature works showing the deep influence that other artists, places, and relationships had on the arc of his career. Embarking on a profession in painting with no formal training, Gauguin was mentored by Impressionists including Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas. (In fact, as an avid collector himself, Gauguin originally owned two of the Pissarro paintings on view in the exhibition.) Later collaborations with Vincent van Gogh and Émile Bernard show experiments with Symbolism as Gauguin developed his own distinctive style of painting, using flat fields of bold color and dark outlines that in turn influenced artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

The exhibition will take visitors on a journey through the progression and scope of Gauguin’s work, from an early drawing of his wife, Mette Gad (ca. 1873), to better-known paintings inspired by his travels to Tahiti, such as Tahitian Woman with a Flower (Vahine no te tiare), from 1891. Although Gauguin is best known as a painter and printmaker, the exhibition will also feature fifteen experimental ceramics and intricate wood carvings interspersed with period photography and excerpts from his own letters and writings.

Gauguin was greatly influenced by Pacific art and culture, from his time spent in the region en route to Tahiti in 1895. Corresponding to this period of Gauguin’s travel and work in the Pacific, carvings and images from New Zealand, the Marquesas Islands, and Tahiti will be on view from FAMSF’s own extensive holdings in Oceanic arts. Works such as the striking Māori gable figure of Tüwhakairiora, purchased by founder M. H. de Young from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park, will add to visitors’ understanding of the Pacific histories, beliefs, and art that inspired Gauguin and captured his imagination. (Tüwhakairiora was an ancestor who avenged the death of his grandfather and became a leader of all the peoples of New Zealand’s northeast coast of North Island in the seventeenth century.)

“It is exciting to bring so many Gauguin works to San Francisco,” says exhibition curator Christina Hellmich, curator in charge of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “I am pleased that we can highlight some lesser-known aspects of his life, including his wife’s critical role in his career, and offer contemporary perspectives through a new video installation. The striking works of Māori, Marquesan, and Tahitian art from our own collection will allow visitors to learn about Gauguin’s fervent interest in the art and spirituality of Oceania.”

Among many of Gauguin’s paintings are subjects believed to depict Indigenous Māhu, or Tahitian “third gender” individuals. In Sāmoa, the equivalent is known as a Fa’afafine, an indigenous queer minority considered to be gifted in the spirit of more than one gender. Sāmoa-based interdisciplinary artist Yuki Kihara has been commissioned to create a new video work that will debut with this exhibition. Filmed in Upolu Island Sāmoa, her piece, entitled First Impressions: Paul Gauguin, shows a group of Fa’afafine friends discussing works that Gauguin created during his time in the Pacific.

"The Glyptotek contains one of the world’s finest collections of Gauguin’s works,” adds Christine Buhl Andersen, Director of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. “For us it is of crucial significance that the collection is put into new contexts and thus remains vital and relevant. This is the case here where two museums have combined their potential and worked together curatorially, thus creating an original exhibition. We at the Glyptotek have enjoyed an excellent collaboration with the de Young museum and we look forward to experiencing the public’s reception of the exhibition when it opens in San Francisco.”

Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey is organized by Christina Hellmich, curator in charge of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and co-organized by Line Clausen Pedersen, curator at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

Steve Kahn: The Hollywood Suites
September 29, 2018 – March 31, 2019

Los Angeles in the early 1970s was a place of economic, cultural, and social turbulence, and many artists responded by experimenting with non-traditional approaches to art making. Within this atmosphere of creative investigation, the photographer Steve Kahn began to work on a project that would become The Hollywood Suites. In 1974, he rented out rooms in a motel on Melrose Avenue and started to photograph professional bondage models posed within. However, his attention was quickly drawn away from the women and toward the mundane rooms in which they worked. He began to focus on the dilapidated interiors, including uneven curtains hanging askew from windows and doors that seemed to both offer and deny passage. His endeavor grew into a multifaceted conceptual series that used the motel’s physical features to adroitly explore ideas of psychological bondage and containment. Presenting this recently rediscovered project, Steve Kahn: The Hollywood Suites marks the artist’s first museum exhibition and is one of the first exhibitions since his untimely death earlier this year.

Contemporary Muslim Fashions
September 22, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Herbst Exhibition Galleries

Contemporary Muslim Fashions is the first major museum exhibition to explore the complex, diverse nature of Muslim dress codes worldwide. The exhibition examines how Muslim women—those who cover their heads and those who do not—have become arbiters of style within and beyond their communities, and in so doing have drawn mass media attention to contemporary Muslim life.

Spotlighting places, garments, and styles from around the world, this exhibition considers how Muslims define themselves—and are defined—by their dress, and how these sartorial choices can reflect the multifaceted nature of their identities. The exhibition traverses different religious interpretations and cultures, including high-end fashions, such as those by Malaysia-based Blancheur; street wear, such as modest designs from London-based Sarah Elenany; sportswear, such as the burkini; and commissioned garments from both emerging and established designers. Including social media as primary material, Muslim voices and personal narratives are framed by runway footage, news clips, and documentary and fashion photography.

To join the conversation around all things Contemporary Muslim Fashions, join the Contemporary Muslim Fashions Facebook group.
Ticket Information

Seniors (65+):
Students (w/ valid ID):
Youth (6-17):
Children (5 and Under):

The exhibition’s introductory gallery orients visitors to this multifaceted topic through the display of contemporary Muslim modest fashions, social media content, and press and news clippings. As Islam is a multicultural faith, the dress of its practitioners is shaped not only by religious principles but also by local customs and traditions and global fashion trends. This dynamic display showcases the diversity of voices in the Muslim community—from style arbiters and bloggers to emerging designers, politicians, and athletes—and introduces visitors to the types of content and artworks that they will see throughout the exhibition.

The complexity of this topic will be explored by contrasting high-end fashions, such as those by Yves Saint Laurent and Faiza Bouguessa, with socially charged artworks. The exhibition galleries, designed by Hariri & Hariri Architecture, explore the interplay between the seen and unseen, and the idea of being covered and protected as well as contemporary and fashionable.

Working from a premise that the holy texts of Islam have been interpreted in multiple ways around the world and across time, the exhibition’s second section explores approaches to head covering around the world. Through contemporary art, documentary, and fashion photography, this display features examples of different types of Muslim coverings, including the hijab, burka, turban, and headwrap, as well as more recent commercial propositions, such as the sports hijab. These are featured with photographs, news clippings, and videos that explore the cultural contexts in which these garments are worn.

In recent years, there has been increased awareness of Muslim dress as an important segment of the global fashion industry. This has perhaps been most evident in the emergence of modest fashion weeks to promote the work of both established and emerging designers who adhere to Muslim design aesthetics, as well as by the shift among both Western and non-Western designers to create styles specifically for Muslim clients. For many Muslims, dressing visibly Islamic and highly fashionable is also a way to promote a positive awareness of their culture amid ongoing anti-Muslim prejudice.

The exhibition’s main galleries explore these developments throughout the world by regional survey, with the first section focusing on Muslim majority countries in the Middle East, such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Designers from this region include Faiza Bouguessa, Mashael Alrajhi, and Wadha Al Hajri. One feature of this display is the abaya—a loose robe-like overgarment worn especially in the Gulf—to explore how contemporary abaya designers meld regional aesthetics with the global trends of the fashion industry.

Although Turkey led in the commercial design and manufacture of Muslim modest fashion in the 1990s, today the global reach of Islam is evident in South and Southeast Asia as well, where Indonesia has emerged as another leader in the modest and Muslim fashion industries. The rich textile and costume traditions of this region, especially in Indonesia, greatly inform the designs produced for these sectors, as evidenced by the use of luxurious fabrics, vibrant colors, and complex patterns. Designers in this section include Blancheur, Itang Yunasz, Dian Pelangi, and Bernard Chandran.

Experiences of migration and relocation by Muslims have also helped shape their religious practices and dress codes. As a few of many examples, these developments are evident in garments made by Muslim immigrants now living in Europe, such as in the United Kingdom, where designers, such as Saiqa Majeed of Saiqa London, merge the textile heritages of their countries of origin with Western fashion and modest dress aesthetics. In the United States, designers from the Nation of Islam, such as Carmin Muhammad of Al-Nisa Designs, are creating clothing that adheres to the tailored shape and silhouette of their traditional dress as well as contemporary interpretations of modest aesthetics.

To explore the rise of Muslim consumer culture, a section of the exhibition will showcase affordable luxury and fast fashion, such as designs by Sarah Elenany and Barjis Chohan, which cater to a Muslim clientele. These fashions demonstrate how younger generations of Muslim women are creating wardrobes that allow them to mediate contemporary society while being true to their faith. A subsection of this gallery explores the rise of hybrid sportswear garments that have helped foster Muslim female autonomy, such as the burkini.

The exhibition’s final section explores high-end fashion designs that have been customized to accommodate Muslim women’s diverse modesty considerations. Since the second half of the twentieth century, elite Muslim clients have been important patrons for the couture houses of Paris, where designs were often adapted for regional and religious sensibilities. True to the spirit of couture, this industry has long shown a willingness to modify its creations to suit the needs of clients who wish to dress modestly. Today, this tradition continues among the Western fashion design houses, such as Oscar de la Renta, that have created special collections for Ramadan and Eid, as well as online luxury retailer The Modist, which collaborates with a broad array of international brands to adapt styles for concerns of modesty.

Ranu Mukherjee: A Bright Stage
Through January 20, 2019

Ranu Mukherjee employs drawing, painting, animation, and choreography to create hybrid installations that blur the line between the moving and the still image by imbuing each with qualities of the other. Her work investigates the construction of culture through the forces of creolization, migration, ecology, speculative fiction, and desire as a collision of events that mark what she calls “shadowtime,” a sensation of different timescales coalescing into one. For Wilsey Court, Mukherjee is creating an installation expanding over the four walls that frame the atrium. Entitled A Bright Stage, it combines wall painting with printed fabric and video animation into a dynamic environment reflecting on the cultural and spatial perspectives of the museum in general and the atrium as a freely accessible public space in particular. With the adjective “bright” describing qualities both visual and auditory, it amplifies the atrium’s qualities and potentialities as a freely accessible place for public voice and action.

A Bright Stage will be installed in one of the de Young's public spaces; no admission required.

First Impressions: Prints from the Anderson Collection
June 2, 2018 – December 8, 2018

Our culture is full of discussions around managing the ever-important “first impression”—that first encounter with a new person, place, thing, or idea, when opinions are often hastily formed. It can be difficult to escape the grip of a “first.” However, artworks can provide artists, viewers, and collectors with multiple opportunities for first impressions—an expression particularly apt in printmaking, since every sheet bearing a printed image is called an impression. This exhibition casts a wide net across the concept of the “first impression” to present a selection of highlights from the museum’s Anderson Graphic Arts Collection.

Among the first impressions on view are examples of artists’ first projects at a print workshop, their debut of a motif or technique, and their initial works within a series. Viewing artwork likewise provides occasions for firsts. There is the first time a viewer encounters a work of art, which is also perhaps their earliest exposure to the artist or to a specific context that reveals content, form, and technique in a new way. First Impressions includes recent additions to the Anderson Collection by Louise Nevelson and Christopher Wool and marks the debut of these prints at the de Young.

And there are firsts for the collector. An inaugural purchase within a previously unexplored area of art may send him or her off in new directions, as did Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson’s first encounter in 1968 with Richard Diebenkorn’s 41 Etchings Drypoints, itself the artist’s first publication with the then-fledgling Crown Point Press. The suite of prints—which Moo and her husband, “Hunk” (Harry, who died in February), count as their earliest acquisition within the realm of contemporary art—inspired in them a lifelong commitment to collecting contemporary American prints.

Image: Richard Diebenkorn, "#1 (the artist's wife, Phyllis)" (detail), 1964 from the portfolio "41 Etchings Drypoints," 1965. Drypoint, sheet: 451 x 375 mm (17 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.). Printed by Kathan Brown; published by Crown Point Press, Berkeley. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, Gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation, 1996.74.76.1

Fans of the Eighteenth Century
Through April 28, 2019

Fans have served as accessories of fashion and utility since antiquity but reached their peak production and use in eighteenth-century Europe. Made from and embellished by precious materials such as ivory, mother-of-pearl, and silver and gold leaf, eighteenth-century fans also featured designs that reflected the spirit of their times. Fans addressed current events as well as themes of broad interest, including biblical and mythological tales and romanticized domestic and pastoral vignettes. Fans of the Eighteenth Century explores this quintessential period of fan production through a selection of examples from the permanent collection.
Image: "The Noble Wedding" (detail), 1715–1725. Italy. Vellum, paper, mother-of-pearl, metal, and jewel; opaque watercolor and carved, incised, and gilded sticks and guards; rivet; 11 in. (27.9 cm) length, 18 5/8 in. (47.3 cm) width (open). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mrs. Reginald Rives, 1978.10.5a

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