Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco

Chapter 3 (Part 6): Private Collector Museum Conclusions

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“If you look at history, too many great collections ended up in storage and not being shown.”[i] – Eli Broad

The Great Tactician.

The Great Tactician.

Eli Broad, like Alice Walton, the Fishers and George Lucas, has a long history with the city in which he practices his “venture philanthropy.” Broad was not born in Los Angeles, but like the Fishers in San Francisco, he has a long involved history with existing arts and cultural institutions. He has sat and currently sits on the boards of many art museums. Like the Fishers, Lucas and Walton, his decision to build a museum to house his art collection is motivated (partially) by his commitment to his city. But Broad is also doing something in addition to what the Fishers, Lucas and Walton did with their museums; he is utilizing his museum project as leverage for further economic growth. Sure Walton sees Crystal Bridges as having a positive economic effect on Bentonville, but there is nothing in Bentonville: Crystal Bridges is the local economy. Broad is building his museum, not in a rural city, but in the second-most highly populated city in America. Los Angeles already has the strongest brand of any city in the world, and an existing diversified economy. Sure, part of Los Angeles’ economy depend on arts and culture, but it arguably has plenty of existing organizations and venues. If Eli Broad had attempted to build his museum in a place like San Francisco, he might have come up against more public opposition as did the Fishers and Lucas.

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Chapter 3 (Part 5): The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum

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“I thought a museum was a concept that people already bought into about 200 years ago. They’re having us do as much work as we can hoping that we will give up. […] They hate us.” – George Lucas

Like the Fishers, filmmaker George Lucas wanted to build a museum in San Francisco’s Presidio. Lucas wanted to bring his Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to Crissy Field – a beach-front portion of the Presidio National Park with killer views of the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and the Bay. Lucas must be reading Eli Broad’s museum-building playbook: After Lucas’s proposal was rejected he threatened to take his museum and collection to another city. Will billionaire Lucas get what he wants by leveraging cities against one another? Remember those sweet deals Santa Monica and Beverly Hills offered Eli Broad when he was “considering” them instead of Downtown for his museum? We know how that turned out.

Lucas with Rockwell's "Shadow Artist."

Lucas with Rockwell’s “Shadow Artist.”

Lucas was making plans for his museum in 2009, but didn’t make a formal proposal until the Presidio Trust, which oversees and maintains the Presidio, sent out an RFP for the Crissy Field location. By March of 2013 16 proposals had been submitted, and by September those had been narrowed to three including Lucas’s museum. Lucas’s proposal was for a new Beaux-Arts-style museum to house his collections of illustration (lot of Norman Rockwell) and film ephemera (heard of Star Wars?). Lucas was willing to spend $700million: $300M for construction and $400M to endow it–he was good for it too, having sold the Star Wars franchise and Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 for $4.05 BILLION dollars… Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 3 (Part 4): The Fishers & San Francisco

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“We don’t have a lot of choices about what to do with the art if you want someone to see it. You can’t make a deal with a museum to guarantee that the public sees it.”[i]Donald Fisher, 2007

Donald and Doris Fisher founded the retail giant the Gap in 1969 in San Francisco, California. The success of their company allowed the Fishers to amass a contemporary art collection of more than 1,000 works from more than 185 artists. The Fishers’ commitment to contemporary art was also philanthropic: both Donald and Doris sat on the board of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the couple often lent large selections of their collection to the museum.

Despite the Fishers involvement at SFMOMA, and because of sentiments as in the above quotation, in 2007, the Fishers announced plans to build an independent museum venue in the city to house their collection. The Fishers desired to build a 100,000-square-foot museum in the historic Presidio area of San Francisco, which once served as a military base but is now a national park, and is home to some of the oldest buildings in the city.[ii] The estimated cost of the project was never given, but the Fishers planned on establishing a family trust, which would donate the funds for the construction of the building, and which in the future would be entrusted with operating the museum and conserving the collection. The museum was to be called the Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio, or CAMP. “I want to have a little curatorial fun while I’m living,”[iii] said Donald Fisher, hoping the museum might open by 2010. The project was contingent on the approval of the board of the Presidio Trust, the organization which oversees the Presidio—a board that Donald Fisher had once sat on.

CAMP Rendering: We want more red tile!

CAMP Rendering: We want more red tile!

The public immediately disliked the project.[iv] The vocal historic preservationists of San Francisco were outraged, of course. The modern, glass-dominated architecture presented in renderings was criticized for being insensitive and out of touch with the existing structures of the Presidio. Some complained about the usage of public parklands being given over to private interest, some questioned if the museum project was even legal usage of national parkland. Still others brought up the most pertinent question: why would the Fishers (long-time supporters of SFMOMA) introduce a competitor institution to San Francisco, instead of donating the collection (or a portion of it) to the existing SFMOMA? The argument for CAMP made by few was that a culture capital like San Francisco could surely do with more venues for the arts and culture. Read the rest of this entry »

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Exhibition Website

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de Young Museum

I have not seen this exhibition (because I have neither renewed my FAMSF membership, nor managed to convince the bitchy membership counter boys to let me in for free), so I’m just going to judge the exhibition website for the de Young’s latest touring celebrity, Girl With a Pearl Earring.

Girl with the Pearl Earring_de Young_Website_Wink

Lazy eye, or unfortunate screengrab?

That’s right, SHE WINKS.  Oh this is painful.  Vermeer’s iconic masterpiece (reduced to a not-even-clever gif) and other treasures from the Mauritshuis are currently touring the globe (or parts of it) while the Dutch museum undergoes extensive renovations.  Good for the Mauritshuis for making some buckets of ducats while closed, but one wonders how much the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco are shelling out for the traveling show. Read the rest of this entry »

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (Part 2)

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SFMOMA

“Everybody is concerned about time. You know we never have enough time to do anything, and especially to see art.” – Christian Marclay.

[Insert mandatory clock pun here.]

[Insert mandatory clock pun here.]

Well I got PLENTY of time to see your art Mr. Marclay.  Cinephiles of San Francisco rejoice! Christian Marclay’s The Clock is at SFMOMA through June 2nd, when the museum closes for those massive expansions you may have heard aboutThe Clock made big news two summers ago, when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale.  The 24-hour-long video piece has been heralded as a masterpiece of time-based media, and has been show all over the country (New York, Boston and Los Angeles) and the world (Russia and Israel).  Finally Norcal gets the opportunity to see this life-changing (I don’t use that term loosely) video piece.

My life was changed last year when I saw The Clock multiple times at LACMA—the museum purchased an edition of The Clock and had it on view during regular hours, as well as organized several 24-hour screenings. I went to one of the 24-hour screenings and stayed from 8:00PM till 12:15AM. This week, I went to SFMOMA and took in a mere two hours and 15 minutes of The Clock—from 2:45 till 5:00PM.  Taking in another chunk of The Clock allowed me to see how the work varies at different times of day.    SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS AHEAD. Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Serra, “Sequence”

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SFMOMA, Cantor Arts Center, LACMA

This week, SFMOMA released additional renderings of its eminent expansion including new views of the interior.  Snohetta (the chic, Norwegian architects) and SFMOMA haven’t been apologetic or really skirted the issue about plans to basically gut the entire existing building, keeping only Mario Botta’s  postmodern façade.  Climbing SFMOMA’s imposing stairs is literally my first memory of being in a museum.  As a kid, I tried to recreate the alternating bands of polished and flame-finished black granite of these stairs with a set of sleek dominoes on my living room floor.   A friend and I lamented the demise of Botta’s staircase the last time we visited SFMOMA and we brainstormed potential artist projects that might utilize the soon-to-be-dismantled stairs.  (The SFMOMA expansion is going to be LEED Certified so maybe some of the black stone will be reclaimed.)

Sequence at SFMOMA of the future.

“Sequence” at SFMOMA of the future.

Alas, the released images show all of this will be eliminated in the expansion, sacrificed for the sake of greater street presence and improved openness to pedestrian traffic flow.  (The $555 million expansion will also double the current amount of gallery space, so there is that.)  New public space includes a multi-storied, glass-fronted gallery open to Howard Street.  In the renderings, this gallery space is filled with a massive Richard Serra corten-steel sculpture.  This isn’t just a filler “scalie” artwork; Serra’s Sequence (2006) will be installed in the new space when the Snohetta expansion opens in 2016.  Sequence is part of the Fisher collection, the donors who generous donated many buckets of ducats for the expansion, and who are kinda-sorta donating their incomparable trove of contemporary art to the museum.

Sequence on Howard Street.

“Sequence” on Howard Street.

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Balenciaga and Spain

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De Young Museum

Hamish Bowles, Editor at Large, curator, and cape-wearer.

On my most recent visit home to San Francisco, I had a museum day with my mom.   My mom was insistent we see the Hamish-Bowles-curated Balenciaga and Spain at the De Young Museum.  My mom had already seen it (bought the catalogue), and had been raving to me about its unconventional display.  The clothes are integrated into a background of paintings (one by Miro, a reproduction of Velazquez’s Las Meninas), photographs of the Spanish landscape and matadors; sometimes lively flamenco music accompanies the designs.  I wanted to glean something from the exhibition to point out to my mom that she might not have noticed.  This came from the object labels.  Each label included the requisite materials, date, lending organization, and donor.  However, in some cases an additional “worn by” line was added.

Who were some of the women wearing Cristobal Balenciaga’s bolero jackets and flamenco-inspired gowns?

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