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

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983
November 9, 2019 – March 15, 2020

This internationally acclaimed exhibition, organized by Tate Modern, celebrates art made by Black artists during two pivotal decades when issues of race and identity dominated and defined both public and private discourse. The de Young’s presentation includes a focus on Bay Area artists whose work promoted personal and cultural pride, collective solidarity and empowerment, and political and social activism.

Honoring the incredible legacy of Black Power in the San Francisco Bay Area, the de Young museum is hosting a line-up of programming and partners tied to celebrating this landmark exhibition. Featuring renowned artists, performers, musicians, activists, civic leaders, and others, these programs welcome special guests from around the Bay Area to bring Black Power to the forefront.

In addition, the de Young museum is offering free admission to the entire museum, including free entry to Soul of a Nation, for all visitors on four Saturdays throughout the run of the exhibition.

The Turkmen Storage Bag
August 31, 2019 – November 15, 2020

The Fine Arts Museums is home to one of the most important collections of Turkmen carpet weavings in the United States. The foundation of this collection was solidified by a major gift of Central Asian carpets and textiles from Caroline and H. McCoy Jones in the early 1980s. The Joneses’ gift put the de Young on the map of the international rug-collecting world, and in the years following, two other major collections of Turkmen weavings were donated to the Museums, namely that of Wolfgang and Gisela Wiedersperg, who gifted their collection in 1997, and that of George and Marie Hecksher, who began gifting rare textiles to the Museums in 1999.

A small, focused exhibition, The Turkmen Storage Bag will showcase approximately nine storage bags representing five subgroups. The exhibition will take advantage of the intimate space in the T. B. Walker Textile Education Gallery to present a refined selection of the finest examples of these portable storage bags, in order to highlight the similarities and differences between the different groups’ weaving techniques and rendition of the gül motif. The exhibition serves as an introduction of the varying styles to novices, while appealing to connoisseurs with prime examples both from different subgroups and from Bay Area collectors.

This exhibition is included with general admission. Become a member and see it for free!

Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus [infected]
Through January 5, 2020

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) are pleased to announce the acquisition and exhibition of the powerful video work in Pursuit of Venus [infected] (2015), by New Zealand artist Lisa Reihana, as part of the Contemporary Art Program at the de Young museum. Panoramic in format, the animated, digital scroll is a moving image interpretation of the 19th-century French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (Native Peoples of the South Pacific) and its romanticized depiction of European explorations in Polynesia.

“The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are committed to questioning dominant narratives and integrating new, diverse points of view throughout our exhibition program. Lisa Reihana is a powerful voice in redefining the history as we know it,” states Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. ”Following on the acquisition of work by The Propeller Group and Carrie Mae Weems, the acquisition and exhibition of in Pursuit of Venus [infected] reaffirms the institution’s commitment to pioneering media art, inviting audiences to reconsider the cultural context of our society.”

In its first exhibition in the continental United States, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] takes possession of the entire upstairs special-exhibition space at the de Young. The presentation at the de Young will include Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique wallpaper and an 18th-century folio with engravings of scenes from captain James Cook’s travels in the Pacific Ocean—both also from the Museums’ holdings.

“Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi . . . With your basket and my basket, the people will live.

“I am immensely proud that in Pursuit of Venus [infected] has been acquired and is shared by two esteemed institutions. I greatly admire the de Young and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, both of whom continue to hold and build relationships to the Pacific. It’s wonderful knowing this work has two new homes where it will be exposed to new audiences. Inspired by the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, this immersive video provides a contemporary reappraisal for the people and places from which it originally came.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many people of all nations who supported the making of this work. The famous Māori proverb explains that we all have something to share, and our collective knowledge helps us all,” notes Reihana.

An encounter with woodblock designs for the 1804 wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique by Joseph Dufour led Reihana to create in Pursuit of Venus [infected], a response to the widespread fascination with the Pacific voyages undertaken by Captain Cook, de Bougainville, and La Pérouse.

“Challenging the Dufour wallpaper’s imperialist conception of the encounter between Captain Cook’s envoy and the Pacific Islanders, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] reclaims history to present the story from the perspective of the Pacific cultures,” says Claudia Schmuckli, Curator in Charge, Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Using Tā-Vā, a cyclical concept of time and space, Lisa Reihana offers a nuanced and revisionist understanding of the complexity of cultural identity shaped by colonialism.”

The result is an 70–foot-wide, 13–foot-tall moving-image interpretation of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique. The hourlong video gently moves through 80 live-action vignettes projected onto a utopian Tahitian landscape. Western and indigenous actors are cast as the historical figures in historic and imagined scenes, moving toward the violent and dramatic climax of the death of Captain Cook in Hawai‘i in 1779. The accompanying evocative soundscape includes dialogue in several Pacific languages. Cultural celebrations and traditions, such as the kava ceremony, haka and hula dances, and the cross-gender Fa’afafine tradition are featured, alongside brutal practices such as the trade of desirable goods for sexual favors and floggings—casting colonization in a more accurate light.

“in Pursuit of Venus [infected]—presented with the French wallpaper on which it is based, plus Cook voyage engravings that inspired the historic wallpaper design—invites visitors to experience and reflect upon how the Pacific was represented and imagined in the 19th century by Europeans. Two hundred years later, in her extraordinary video, Lisa Reihana has revised the narrative and accompanying images to critique notions about Pacific culture and history that originated with the European voyages of exploration of the 18th century and persist even today,” explains Christina Hellmich, Curator in Charge of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus [infected] is co-organized by Christina Hellmich, Curator in Charge of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Claudia Schmuckli, Curator in Charge of Contemporary Art and Programming; and Martin Chapman, Curator in Charge of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture. in Pursuit of Venus [infected] (2015) was acquired collectively by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco through the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2019. In development for more than a decade, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] premiered in 2015 and has since made critically acclaimed appearances at the 2017 Venice Biennale; Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland; The Royal Academy of Art, London; and the Honolulu Museum of Art, among other venues.

About Lisa Reihana
Of Māori (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tu) and British descent, Lisa Reihana (b. 1964, Auckland, New Zealand) reexamines colonial history, disrupting gender, time, power, and representational norms through her work. Her multidisciplinary practice spans film, sound, photography, spatial design, live-action, costume, and sculptural form. Her art making is driven by a powerful connection to community, which informs her collaborative working method described as kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face). She completed a master’s in design from the School of Visual Art and Design, Unitec, in Auckland in 2014 and graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 1987. Reihana lives and works in Auckland, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Reihana has an extensive exhibition history, including the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; the Brooklyn Museum, the Venice Biennale; the Honolulu Biennial; the Yinchuan Biennial; the Havana Biennial; the Liverpool Biennial; the Adelaide International at Samstag Museum, Adelaide, Australia; the 12th Biennale of Sydney; the second Auckland Triennial at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; and the second and fourth Asia Pacific Triennials of Contemporary Art at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art.
Reihana has undertaken numerous international residencies and commissions, was made an Arts Laureate by the New Zealand Arts Foundation in 2014, and received the Te Tohu Toi Kē Te Waka Toi Māori Arts Innovation Award from Creative New Zealand.

Moving Forward, Looking Back: Prints from the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection
July 27, 2019 – February 2, 2020

For centuries, artists have copied the work of others as part of their professional training. In the traditional Academic system, artists were taught to copy earlier experts before ever gaining the freedom to invent a composition of their own. Only after successfully rendering copies—first of prints, later of plaster casts, live models, and finally of paintings—were they encouraged to develop compositions of their own. Even then, many sought out the examples of others, incorporating compositional elements that subscribe to established tropes of a particular subject. Over the past fifty years, many artists have developed new materials and syntax, yet the practice of looking back for inspiration, and occasionally to replicate content, has remained routine.

Moving Forward, Looking Back: Prints from the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection highlights the practices of quotation and stylistic reinvigoration by some of the most daring and prominent artists held in the Museums’ Anderson Graphic Arts Collection. The exhibition presents the works of Jennifer Bartlett, Jim Dine, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, showing how these artists adapted the creative spirits of their predecessors—those of Giovanni Bellini, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso, among others—to inform and advance their individual practices.
Image: Robert Rauschenberg, "Bellini #5" (detail), 1989. Color photoetching, aquatint, and etching. 59 x 38 3/8 in. (149.9 x 97.5 cm). Printed by Shelly C. Beech, Richard Dawson, and Hitoshi Kido; published by Universal Limited Art Editions. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation, 1996.74.418. © 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Ana Prvački: Detour
Through January 5, 2020

The Fine Arts Museums invited artist Ana Prvac?ki, known for her participatory projects that use humor as a means to disarm traditional museum activities and behaviors, to visit and imagine a project that uses the museum experientially, rather than as an exhibition venue. In the resulting project, Detour, Prvac?ki leads visitors around the museum to look anew at the building, grounds, and collections, and imagine different ways of viewing, connecting, and behaving.

In a special collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, short videos will be accessible on most mobile devices via Google Lens. Content is triggered at various spots throughout the museum to guide visitors through this alternative tour. With wit and playfulness at their core, each video addresses a different idea, relating the de Young’s context to topics ranging from ancient myth to personal intimacies, environmental matters to vision exercises. In addition to creating dialogues with collection objects and immediate surroundings, two sculptures will be installed in connection with the project.

Prvac?ki is a cross-disciplinary artist whose works take the form of diverse projects that draw on performance, daily practices, consumer aesthetics, and popular concerns. Her projects foreground experimentation in content and form, their ephemeral nature both a strategy for creating unique experiences and a nod to an environmentally conscious artistic practice. She has realized solo exhibitions and projects at the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston; and the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin. Her work has also been included in many international exhibitions, including the 14th Istanbul Biennial and dOCUMENTA 13. Her performances have been commissioned by the LA Philharmonic and the Chicago Architecture Biennial, among others.

Videos produced in collaboration with Revelator, Austin and Director of Photography Jonn Herschend.

Ana Prvac?ki: Detour is installed in the de Young's public spaces; no admission required. Google Lens works on iPhone 6 and above and Android phones with 2 GB of memory or more.
Image: Still from Ana Prvac?ki, “Detour,” 2018. Courtesy of the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles
Interview with Ana Prvac?ki

Ana Prvac?ki at the de Young in October 2017.

Elizabeth Thomas, Director of Public Engagement for the Fine Arts Museums, spoke with Prvac?ki to find out more about what inspires her work.

You often enter institutions that have offered very open invitations. How do you approach thinking about what to do?

I have always been interested in protocols and gestures that ameliorate the discomforts of daily life and, in this context, how these affect and apply to both institutions and their staff and to visitors. Most of the time these concerns overlap with my own concerns and preoccupations, so ideally we work together and in dialogue to make life more bearable, or at least more poetic or humorous.

I know that you make work that actively tries to minimize its own ecological and economic footprint. Why is this important to you?

Throughout my career the key focus of my art practice has been the development of ideas and concepts rather than the production of large objects, I think that conceptual art is low carbon footprint in its essence. Our current and urgent situation on this planet requires a commitment to making work that is sustainable, both in theory and practice, by which I mean the research and development of works that do not require elaborate production, shipping, or storage. We need to make less and imagine more, tread lightly on this earth.

Imagination and invention are central to your work, as they are to many artists, but you apply it to very different realms, and often within the everyday, or as small gestures. Can you talk about scale and context with your work?

I think this is again connected to the question of ecology and conceptual practice. I was reading about Neolithic art and how during that period you had two types of art: it was either permanent, meaning on an immovable rock or inside a cave, or it was portable and nomadic, made to be carried easily. I think we need to return to that kind of regulating of scale. Not only is it respectful to the planet, but it also has the ability to be experienced and disseminated in a much more subversive manner.

Can you speak about your most recent performance in Chicago, in the context of the botanical gardens?

L’air pour l’air is a collaborative piece I developed with SO-IL architects, initially commissioned for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. We wanted to address the pressing issue of our environment and air pollution with a lyrical gesture, and with the belief that to be able to play and make poetry and culture, we need to be able to take deep and full breaths, without fear. We created air-altering mesh enclosures for musicians that have been designed to clean the air through breath. The more music that is played, the cleaner the air. I am thinking about very similar issues at the de Young and its location in Golden Gate Park, as it is where people come to breathe and feed both their lungs and their soul.

Can you explain why you're licking the building in the accompanying photo, since it might give people a window into your thought processes?

I am quite fascinated by the copper facade of the museum. I did some research about copper and was intrigued to learn that copper is an essential trace mineral necessary for our survival, yet it is a mineral our body does not produce by itself. It turns out oysters have a perfect balance of zinc and copper to give us the most benefits; however, they are in danger of extinction and most people can’t afford them. Having a little lick of the de Young could be a very generous gesture—democratic, free, and nourishing.

Specters of Disruption
Through November 10, 2019

Specters of Disruption is the result of an inquiry into the shared encyclopedic collections of the de Young and Legion of Honor museums, performed with an eye toward patterns that might suggest a storyline within a collective institutional subconscious. The narratives of disruption that emerged from this process speak to the museums’ deep grounding in their origins and geographies. Drawing from their historic holdings and re-contextualizing them with modern and contemporary art, Specters of Disruption connects the museums’ colonial and geological underpinnings to the current conditions of the Bay Area and the evolving trajectories of American art histories. Unfolding through several galleries, this presentation is conceived in five chapters that revolve around different manifestations of disruption within nature, history and myth, culture and technology.

This exhibition is included with general admission.

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.

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