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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
415.750.3600
Map


deyoung.famsf.org
Matt Mullican: Between Sign and Subject
March 9, 2019 – January 26, 2020

Over the past four decades, Matt Mullican has created a body of work encompassing drawing, collage, painting, photography, video, sculpture, and installation as well as performance under hypnosis. Trying nothing less than to “organize the world” and make sense of his existence, Mullican invented a personal cosmology tin which colors indicate different orders or “worlds.” The first order, identified by the color green, is the material world; the second order, represented by blue, is everyday life; the third order is yellow and refers to culture and science; the fourth order is language and appears in black and white; and the last, most important order is subjective experience, rendered in red. His de Young installation comprises fifty works, including rubbings made by transferring the image of a glass etching onto canvas with acrylic gouache and oil stick; light boxes with computer graphics that map the five worlds; and bulletin boards with found household objects, studio drawings, comics, and charts that represent the visual system with which Mullican attempts to categorize the world around him.

Monet: The Late Years
February 16, 2019 – May 27, 2019
Herbst Exhibition Galleries

The exhibition will feature fifty paintings by Claude Monet dating mainly from 1913 to 1926, the final phase of the artist’s long career. During his late years, the well-traveled Monet stayed close to home, inspired by the variety of elements making up his own garden at Giverny, a village located about forty-five miles from Paris. With its evolving scenery of flower beds, footpaths, willows, wisteria, and nymphaea, the garden became a personal laboratory for the artist’s concentrated study of natural phenomena. The exhibition will focus on the series that Monet invented, and just as important, reinvented, in this setting. In the process, it will reconsider the conventional notion that many of the late works painted on a large scale were preparatory for the Grand Decorations, rather than finished paintings in their own right. Boldly balancing representation and abstraction, Monet’s radical late works redefined the master of Impressionism as a forebear of modernism.
Image: Claude Monet, "Water Lilies" (detail), 1914–1917. Oil on canvas, 71 x 57 1/2 in. (180 x 146 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1973.3

Ticket Information

Members:
Free
Adults:
$35
Seniors (65+):
$32
Students (w/ valid ID):
$26
Youth (6-17):
$20
Children (5 and Under):

Avoid wait times and lines. Premium ticket holders enjoy immediate entry to Monet: The Late Years / Tickets includes General Admission and entry to Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey (May experience extended wait times, subject to availability, space is limited). Purchase premium tickets.

Access to Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey is limited, and subject to availability.

Introduction
By 1913 Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926) had secured his position as the most successful living painter in France. This exhibition focuses primarily on the period between 1913 and 1926, when the well-traveled Monet devoted all of his creative attention to a single location—his home and gardens in Giverny, some forty-five miles northwest of Paris. There he created an environment completely under his control. With its evolving scenery of flower beds, footpaths, bridges, willows, wisteria, and water lilies, the garden became a personal laboratory for the artist’s sustained study of natural phenomena. In it Monet found the creative catharsis he needed to persist through a series of personal tragedies, including the death of his second wife, Alice Hoschedé, in 1911; the death of his eldest son, Jean, in 1914; and the international trauma of World War I. The work Monet produced during this period is also marked by his struggle with cataracts: first diagnosed in 1912, he eventually underwent an operation in 1923. In the final chapter of his life and career, Monet remained fiercely ambitious in his approach to painting. Throughout his seventies and eighties, he transformed his technique by enlarging his canvases, experimenting with compositional cropping, and playing with tonal harmonies. Boldly balancing representation and abstraction, Monet’s radical late works redefine the master of Impressionism as a forebear of modernism.

Section 1: Securing Success
Claude Monet, Alice Hoschedé, and their combined family of eight children settled in Giverny in 1883, taking up residence at the Pressoir (the Cider Press), as their home was affectionately called. In these years Monet spent time exploring the surrounding terrain. Experiencing greater financial success, the artist purchased the home in 1890 and began an extensive redesign of its surrounding gardens. In 1893 Monet added to his property, acquiring another plot of land across the street from his home. After some debate with the local municipality, he received permission to divert the Epte River to create a pond for cultivating water lilies, a flower he may have first learned about from the horticultural display at the 1889 Exposition Universelle, in Paris. The garden’s design may have also been inspired by Monet’s extensive collection of Japanese prints, which the artist began amassing in the 1860s and had hanging in his dining room. His water lily garden served as a perfect foil to the more traditional flower garden surrounding his home, which was organized in a grid with rectangular flower beds and grand allés. The works in this gallery represent subjects from Monet’s garden that he depicted repeatedly in the final twelve years of his life: the Japanese bridge, the water lily pond, and the rose archway.

Section 2: Into the Garden
Throughout Claude Monet’s career, he remained dedicated to close observation of nature, and his elaborate garden at Giverny became a necessary extravagance. He spent great energy and expense studying horticultural magazines, consulting with specialists, and commiserating with fellow enthusiasts. In his early days at the Pressoir, Monet tended the garden with his children; as his designs became more ambitious, he ultimately went on to employ eight gardeners. Monet’s water lily pond was the most important feature of his garden. Ensuring the crystalline quality of the water and the vibrancy of the lilies required one gardener to skim the pond’s surface on a daily basis and dunk the lilies to remove the dust generated by the nearby road (Monet even went so far as to fund the paving of the surrounding roads to prevent such dust from accumulating). The pond offered an ever-changing reflective surface that captured the color of the lilies, the foliage of the adjacent weeping willows, and, at times, the changing effects of the clouds. In 1914, after his self-imposed two-year break from painting following the death of his second wife, Alice Hoschedé, Monet embarked on a new series of water lily paintings. Marked by gestural brushwork and increasingly larger formats, these works are a bold departure from his previous work. Many of these compositions lack horizon lines, resulting in fragmented, often spatially disoriented views. On this same impressive scale, Monet also painted irises, daylilies, and agapanthuses growing at the water’s edge.

Section 3: Grand Ambitions
In 1891 Claude Monet started painting in series. His first exhibition of serial works featured compositions of haystacks in the fields surrounding Giverny, while his famous depictions of the facade of the Rouen Cathedral included more than thirty separate canvases. Creating a series of works on a single subject allowed Monet to demonstrate the close observation involved in capturing changes in weather, atmosphere, and light. When first displayed, these works silenced critics who had accused the Impressionists of being overly spontaneous and haphazard in their painting techniques. Monet’s habit of working in series provided the foundation for his most ambitious artistic project: a panoramic mural cycle titled the Grand Decorations, which he began in 1914. Although he created the monumental work in response to observed phenomena within his garden, he painted the actual canvases in his studio, drawing upon his memory rather than painting en plein air. The project took on national significance in 1918, when Monet decided to donate the more than three hundred linear feet of canvases to France as a symbol of peace and in memory of the more than one million French casualties of World War I. Installed in 1927, shortly after Monet’s death, these paintings are permanently housed in the Musée de l’Orangerie, in Paris.

Section 4: A Garden of Toil and Reward
During the later years of his life, Claude Monet continued to work in series, returning to views of his home and the Japanese bridge, rose archway, and weeping willows in his gardens. During World War I, Monet remained at his home in Giverny despite both the departure of most his staff and the shelling outside the town. Scholars often connect the artist’s frequent depiction of weeping willows during this time to a sense of mourning and loss. Though Monet was ceaselessly productive, his correspondences with friends and family attest to his mercurial moods, and visitors to his studio reported seeing canvases that he had slashed or burned. Writing to his friend, the journalist and art critic Gustave Geffroy, Monet stated, “Ah, how I suffer, how painting makes me suffer! It tortures me. The pain it causes me!” In 1924 Georges Clémenceau, the former prime minister of France, wrote to Monet, “Work patiently or angrily—but go to work. You know better than anyone the value of what you have done.” Monet’s struggles with his eyesight undoubtedly increased his self-doubt. First diagnosed with cataracts in 1912, the artist carefully adapted his approach to color by memorizing the placement of paint pigments on his palette. In 1923, with only ten percent of his vision in his left eye and considered legally blind in his right eye, Monet finally agreed to undergo surgery. The procedure, along with corrective lenses, restored enough vision in Monet’s right eye that he was able to return to work in 1924.

Claude Monet’s life at Giverny reflects his approach to his self-defined legacy. Aware that popularity during an artist’s lifetime does not secure one’s position in the art historical canon, Monet sought to establish himself as an integral part of French art history. In 1914, fourteen of his paintings entered the Musée du Louvre, an unheard-of honor for a living artist. Monet generally rejected following or relating his work to artistic trends. Of Cubism, he once stated, “I don’t want to see it . . . it would make me angry.” Nonetheless, his work galvanized generations of artists. During Monet’s lifetime, Pierre Bonnard, Wassily Kandinsky, and Henri Matisse named him as a key influence. After World War II, American artists studying in Paris on the GI Bill, such as Sam Francis and Ellsworth Kelly, found inspiration in the Monet works at the Musée de l’Orangerie. In the 1950s the art critic Clement Greenberg described Monet as belonging to the modern world, while Alfred H. Barr, former director of the Museum of Modern Art, acquired a water lily canvas for the museum in 1955, hailing Monet as the grandfather of Abstract Expressionism.

This exhibition continues to define Monet’s legacy. In the final years of his prolific career, his experimental and creative energies took artistic liberties that reflect a path toward modernism. Monet’s paintings remain a touchstone for artists in the present day—from their origins in impressions of nature to the artist’s abstracted forms realized through expressive color and brushwork.

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.

Fans of the Eighteenth Century
Through June 30, 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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