Umberto Eco,Travels in Hyperreality describing Heart Castle:
The striking aspect of the whole is not the quantity of antique pieces plundered from half of Europe, or the nonchalance with which the artificial tissue seamlessly connects fake and genuine, but rather the sense of fullness, the obsessive determination not to leave a single space that doesn’t suggest something, and hence the masterpiece of bricolage, haunted by horror vacui, that is here achieved. The insane abundance makes the place unlivable, just as it is hard to eat those dishes that many classy American restaurants, all darkness and wood paneling, dotted with soft red lights and invaded by nonstop music, offer the customer as evidence of his own situation of “affluence”: steaks four inches thick with lobster (and baked potato and sour cream and melted butter, and grilled tomato and horse radish sauce) so the customer will have “more and more” and can wish nothing further.
An incomparable collection of genuine pieces too, the Castle of Citizen Kane achieves a psychedelic effect and a kitsch result not because the Past is not distinguished from the Present (because after all this was how the great lords of the past amassed rare objects, and the same continuum of styles can be found in many Romanesque churches where the nave is now baroque and perhaps the campanile is eighteenth century), but because what offends is the voracity of the selection, and what distresses is the fear of being caught up by this jungle of venerable beauties, which unquestionably has its own wild flavor, its own pathetic sadness, barbarian grandeur, and sensual perversity, redolent of contamination, blasphemy, the Black Mass. It is like making love in a confessional with a prostitute dressed in a prelate’s liturgical robes reciting Baudelaire while ten electronic organs reproduce The Well-Tempered Clavier, played by Scriabin.
If you happen to be in the vicinity of Davis, go and visit the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum on the UC Davis campus. It celebrated its opening on November 13th, 2016 and has been the latest addition of university art museums in the SF Bay Area. The spectacular floating "Grand Canopy" - designed by the architecture firms Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and SO-IL - houses the UC Davis' unique art collection, a university that has mainly been known for its agricultural sciences and business management. With this museum the art department aims to serve both the community and the university with the focus on coming together and celebrating art while representing the belief of the philanthropists Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem: free public access to the arts.
The inaugural exhibit, Our of Our Way, is a must see. It focuses on the first 12 members of the university’s original art faculty: Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forest, Roland Petersen, Manuel Neri, Ralph Johnson, Ruth Horsting, Daniel Shapiro, Tio Giambruni, Jane Garritson and John Baxter. Richard Nelson, founding member of the art department, hired these unique dynamic talents with the goal to bring a divers creative teaching spirit to UC Davis. The exhibit is both delightful and enlightening - a piece of Bay Area art history.
Out of Our Way through March 16, 2017.
Looking East at the Asian Art, Bonnard at the Legion, Oscar de La Renta at the deYoung, Ed Ruscha at the deYoung, and Frank Stella at the de Young.....
FRANK STELLA @ DE YOUNG
November 15, 2016
Frank Stella, born in 1936 Malden MA, was encouraged early to pursue his artistic vocation. He attended Princeton University and moved to New York in 1958. Considered a protagonist of geometric abstraction, he strongly opposed abstract expressionims upon arriving in the Big Apple's art world and has been driven by a desire to push the envelope of abstract painting ever since. I have not come across an artist for quite some time that has been so strongly in dialog with the history of art and the contemporary art community surrounding him. Influenced and inspired by artists as Hans Albers, Jasper Johns, Bernett Newman, Franz Cline but also by Caravaggio, Wassily Kandinsky, El Lissitzky, Sonja Delaunay to name a few, he has been relentlessly searching for new color abstractions. I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces shown at the de Young retrospective. Love the way Stella plays with color perspective while juxtaposing different color strips in a deliberate, yet random pattern. You cannot help but try to find rime and reason. And his 3D paintings - an extension of his panting on canvas - never fail to capture the viewer's fascination with their unique shape, color and texture.
Through February 26, 2017.
To earn more, check out deYoung.
ED RUSCHA @ DE YOUNG
August 20, 2016
Text came out of my interest in books. I started looking at books and the pinning of books, so I learned to set type with a printer: clean presses did the dirty work early on, and it just sort of evolved. I began to look at printed words, and words, and saw them as potential for actress made with paint, I guess.
~ Ed Ruscha, 2016
Went to see Wild Wild West at the Legion and Ed Ruscha at the deYoung today. Loved both exhibits! If you get a chance, see them together.
BONNARD @ LEGION
March 19, 2016
Moi, j'observe ~ Pierre Bonnard
We will no longer separate the figure from the background of an apartment or street ~ Louis Edmond Duranty
Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947), painter, print maker and member of the Nabis, was already recognized as an artist at the age of 25 and produced during his 60 year career some of the most enigmatic works of art. Bonnard has not only been known for his boldness in color and iconography of intimsme but also for his amaizing rending of texture and pattern. Drawing from inspirations such as Gauguin's cloisonnism, Impressionistic landscape, Art Nouveau, James Morris'Arts & Craft Movement, Japonese ukioye woodblock prints, Rococo elegance, 17h century Dutch interiors, medieval tapestry and classical statuary, he developed a style that would stay with him throughout his oeuvre. Cubism and Surrealism for instance did not touch him. His keen skill of observing the quotidian translated over to asymmetric compositions, high angle views, a masterful capturing of shimmering sunlight, cropped framing and an implicit wit. Bonnard did not paint from life or en plain air. Instead he would sketch or photograph his objects and take notes on color. Back in his studio we would pin rolled-up canvases on the walls to work on several paintings simultaneously and thus avoid being cornered into a set size of the stretched canvas.
Bonnard's paintings are extraordinary contemplative masterpieces emitting a snap-shot like quality and a suggestive air. They are seductive invitations to look and explore beyond the first glance. Peripheral motives come gradually into focus and keep lingering on like an afterthought. The off-center composition and bird's eye view add dynamic while heightening the fact that we are secret on-lookers on a scene where gazes are turned inwards or towards a pet, a child or other person. These averted gazes are both fascinating and poetic - telling us a story about intimate moments and attachments. A wonderful compositorial connectedness is relieved in Bonnard's rhythmic use of color - tying together foreground and background, interior and exterior, horizontal and vertical, figure and fabrics. Along with a virtuous brushstroke these artworks never fail to evoke a strong sense of materiality and alluring atmosphere. In a time when artists were steering way from academically rendered illusionism in favor of the picture plane being an autonomous two-dimensional surface, Bonnard's paintings were not only revolutionary but also brilliant works of a groundbreaking color-charged, light-infused and texture-rich technique. Go and explore for yourself!
Through May, 15th 2016.
To learn more, check out Bonnard at the Legion.
LOOKING EAST @ ASIAN ART
January 23, 2016
"It is well to remember that a picture - before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote - is essentially a plane surface covered with colors assembled in a certain way." ~ Maurice Denis, 1890
Looking East at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, is an alluring exhibit about the influence of Japanese art on the West. Forced out of a 220 year national seclusion by the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, Japan opened its ports to international trade. With this a flow of Japanese artifacts - especially the ukiyo-e prints - made their way to the West. Regarded as mediocre to Western academic art with its focus on symmetry, one point perspective and naturalistic illusions, these captivating woodblock prints by Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kunisada were enthusiastically embraced by the French avant-garde and avidly collected by Manet, Degas, Bonnard, Toulouse Lautrec and Van Gogh amongst others. Their flatness in space rendering, asymmetric composition, unusual point of view and color schemes represented something never seen before in Europe.
The late 1800s were characterized by great changes brought on by the industrial revolution, advancement in technology, rapid growth of cities and the mixing of private and public life. The counter-culture of Western artists - following Baudelaire's call for the artist being of his own time - sought an alternative to the traditional forms of academic art by experimenting with a new artistic language to match the fast paced lifestyle of the modern swirling times. The pursuit of the autonomy of the art works - to view them on their own terms and not as a window into an illusionistic world - was reflected in a growing urge for simplification towards the abstract, a rejection of naturalistic rendering as well as photographic resemblance and an abandonment local color. These newly discovered Japanese woodblock prints depicting the fleeting moments of daily life in a uniquely dynamic and colorful way proved to be a great inspiration in this quest.
Thru February 6th, 2016.
Learn more, visit Looking East.
Chasing clouds and sunsets is one of my secret passions, hunting down wildflowers equally so. These tiny marvels come in so many different colors, shapes and sizes. Utterly fascinating!! Cannot get enough.
L: Scotch Cottonthistle - Onopordum acanthium; Composite family
C: Mountain Spiraea - Spiraea densiflora splendens; Rose family
R: Mt. Hood Pussypaws - Cistanthe umbellata; Purslane Family
L: Western Pasque Flower - Anemone (Pulsatilla) occidentalis; Ranunculus family; I prefer to call it Dr. Seuss Flower…
C: Bruneau Mariposa Lily - Calochortus bruneaunis; Lily family
R: Pearly Everlasting - Anaphalis margaritacea; Composite family
L: Tidy Tips - Layia platyglossa; Composite family
C: Yellow Tidy Tips - Lalyia glandulosa sep. lutea; Composite family
R: Sticky Cinquefoil - Potentilla glandulosa; Rose family
L: Blue Dicks - Dichelostemma capitatum; Lily family
C: Blue Bottons - Cynoglossum grande; Forget-me-not family
R: Arroyo Lupine - Lupinus succulentus; Pea family
L: Red Columbine - Aquilegia formosa; Ranunculus family
C: Giant Red Paintbrush - Castilleja miniata; Snapdragon family
R: Vollmer's Tiger Llily - Lilium pardalinum subsp. vollmeri; Lily family
L: Balsamroot - Balsamorhiza sagittata; Composite family
C: Pretty Face - Triteleia ixioides; Lily family
R: Mountain Butterweed - Packera streptanthifolia; Composite family
L: Rangers Button - Sphenosciadium capitellatum; Carrot family
C: Purple Owl's Clover - Castilleja exserta; Pea family
R: Baby Blue Eyes - Nemophila menziesii; Forget-me-not family
L: Fireweed - Chamerion angustifolium; Evening Primrose family
C: Checkermallow - Sidalcea glaucescens; Mallow family
R: Redstem Storksbill - Erodium cicutarium; Geranium family
L: Devil's Lettuce - Amsinckia tesselata; Forget-me-not family
C: Cream Cups - Platystemon californicus; Poppy family
R: Blazing Star - Mentzelia pectinata; Loasa family
L: Fremont's Phacelia - Phacelia femontii; Forget-me-not family
C: Scarlet Gilia - Ipomopsis aggregata; Phlox family
R: Wild Iris - Iris missouriensis; Iris family
- Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest by Mark Turner & Phyllis Gustafson; Timber Press Field Guide, Portland OR.
- Wildflowers of the Eastern Sierrs and adjoining Mojave Desert by Laird R. Blackwell; Lone Pine Publishing Edmonton AB.
- Field Guide to Wildflowers, Western Region by Richard Spellenberg; National Audubon Society New York NY.
- Wildflowers of the Carrizo Plain Area by Malcolm McLeod; California Native Plant Society, San Luis Obispo CA.
Also check out Calflora, for information on wild California plants for conservation, education and appreciation.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in short SFMOMA, was founded in 1935 under director Grace L. McCann Morley and occupied for its first sixty years the top floor of the War Memorial Veterans building on Van Ness. After plans to expand the museum on its old site were stifled in the 1980s, Swiss architect Mario Botta was selected in 1988 to design the new building in collaboration with Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum. In 1995 the museum opened at its new location on 3rd Street at Howard. With its endless commitment to classical spacial principles, this building is apparently considered one of the last postmodernist buildings in the US.
Following a competition announced in 2006, the SFMOMA opened its Rooftop Garden in 2009. Designed by the award-winning SF based Jensen Architects in collaboration with Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture, this genius concept - featuring two open air spaces to house the museums sculpture collection and to serve as a indoor/outdoor gallery - has been very popular among visitors. And a favorite place of mine downtown. To accommodate its both growing collection (especially the Fisher Collection) and audience, major plans to extend were announced in 2009.
2nd row: L: Bernhard Andre; C: Corinne Sotzek; R: Bernhard Andre.
3rd row: L: Bernhard Andre; C: Richard Barnes; R: Henrik Kam
July 21st, 2010...
Today Snøhetta, the gifted Norwegian firm known for the Lillehammer Museum amongst others, was selected to design the expansion. Construction will begin in June 2013. Joining the Botta museum and spanning from Minna to Howard street, the new addition will open to the public in 2016. Much to my sadness, the award-winning Rooftop Garden will most likely have to disappear. I will miss this contemplative space with its serenity and great views. Also, I have always reveled how the Botta building with its almost defensive outside posture, which never fail to surprise me with its light-filled atrium with the great staircase when stepping inside. The new addition will evade and change this space.
Check out Snøhetta.
Check out EHDD Architecture.
Check out Webcor Builders.
Check out Kreysler & Associates.
August 11th, 2015...
The Snøhetta extension being built in collaboration with EHDD Architecture and Webcor Construction, will feature several levels of indoor and outdoor gallery space. The sculptural cladding panels, produced locally by Kreysler & Associates, will be an eye-catching feature of the extended building. According to principal Craig Dykers of Snøhetta, this composite panels are inspired by the rippling water of the SF waterfront and are to reflect the temperamental maritime climate of the city. So far into the construction I have noticed that the addition has two faces. If the skies is overcast, it feels very present and heavy. If the sun is out, the facade comes alive with reflections of sunlight and its surroundings - the big cream-colored wedge tends to disappear. Interesting to observe.
I look forward to the addition; it will be an exciting place to visit - especially now that Richard Serra's Sequence moved in on today!
Snøhetta unveils new staircase for SFMOMA.
Check out the installation of Richard Serra's Sculpture Sequence.
March 2016 ... almost done
May 2nd, 2016...done!
Today, I had a great chance to go on a member preview of the new SFMOMA. It was quite overwhelming! 7 stories! And exciting! I entered through the Howard Street entrance and my first stop was Richard Serra's Sequence 2006. I always and tremendously enjoy moving in and around his undulating installations. They are labyrinths for the soul - as if time stands still for a moment! Just right to take an inspirational pause....
The first floor is open to the public, to the community. So cool! The galleries above are either accessible through elevators or stairs. Each floor thrives on the indoor/outdoor aspect culminating in a crowning sculpture terrasse on the 7th floor and offering stunning views of San Francisco. Making my way the tugged away stairs, I experience the new galleries light-filled and breathtaking featuring endless walls of art. The Fisher Collection is well represented; new acquisition abound. Some artists have their own gallery - like Alexander Calder, Agnes Martin and Gerhard Richter. And the award-wining photography department has grown even more. But then there are other aspects. Like the Oculus Bridge on the fourth floor. It feels pushed in the corner like an afterthought. It has lost its grandness just like the cantilever bridge has, which had to partially make way for the new addition. The Roof Top Garden is still there - much to my relief. However Blue Bottle Coffee got turned into a busy restaurant with tables everywhere. Gone is the contemplative atmosphere that I loved so much about it.
The new SFMOMA is an amazing space to visit - old and new are well integrated (considering the given parameters). Each of the seven floors has its own world to explore. However it feels quite overwhelming at times - like a size too big, where terrific art, fabulous food and the pulse of the City come together in a giant hub of inspiration.
Through my new job with MSK Design Build, I got the great opportunity to check out one of our vendors, Crystal Cabinetry in Princeton, Minnesota, and with this a chance to explore a rare Minnesotan gems. Took tons of pictures of the Twin cities. Here are some highlights - mainly of Minneapolis.
SFO to MNP
Evening Stroll, Downtown Minneapolis ...
Staying the Foshay Tower by Magney and Tusler (1929) turned out to be great location. Love the closeness to everything - especially to my favorite building, the ING 20 Washington by Minoru Yamasaki and Associates (1965).
The Central Riverfront:
Backstage tour at the beautiful Guthrie Theatre by Jean Nouvel (2006) with its midnight blue skin and stunning views. A walk on the spectacular Stone Arch Bridge by Charles C. Smith (1883). And a visit at the fascinating Mill City Museum - Adolph Fischer and William Barre (1880), rebuilt after the fire (1928), interior destroyed by fire (1991; renovation and new construction by MS&R Architects (2003).
University, Nicollet Island
A walk along the Mississippi river to the coolest campus ever! Visit at the Fredrick Weisman Art Museum by Frank Gehry (1993), then a tour at the absolutely stunning Walter Library by Clarence H. Johnston (1925) and the fantastic Mcnamara Alumni Center by Antoine Predock (2000).
The Walker Art Center, Lowry Hill
Another highlight: The Walker Art by Herzog deMeuron (2005) - a great space to enjoy art! Original by Edward Larrabee Barnes (1971); sculpture garden by Edward Larrabee Barnes (1988) and Designee-Dalnoky (2007). Too bad the sculpture garden was closed for renovation.
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Whittier-Lyndale
Another fabulous place to enjoy art - tons of it from antiquity to modernity!
McKim Mead and White (1915), Hewitt and Brown (1916), Kenzo Tange (1974), and Michale Graves (2006).
Christ Lutheran Church, Longfellow
Also went to see an early modernist masterpiece: Christ Lutheran Church designed by Eliel Saarinen (1949) with an education wing designed by Eero Saarinen (1962). Love how the four walls aren't parallel, the ceiling slants towards the undulating north wall and above all how the light pours in from a concealed south window. Beautiful materials, too.
And finally Crystal Cabinets, Princeton
Our stay at Crystal was fabulous with everyone being super nice and so generous with their time. It was great to meet everyone and to tour the factory. I was amazed how much is still made by hand. Much attention to detail! And much pride in their work! A very inspiring place to be and to work with!!
The New BMA/PFA
"It is about reframing the world around us." ~ Charles Renfro, 2016
On January 27th, 2016 I was invited to a lecture by Charles Renfro, partner with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York based interdisciplinary design studio that designed the new Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives. How inspirational to hear Charles Renfro talk about the design of the BAM/PFA in context of other DS+R projects. And to learn about their design philosophy! To play with our senses as well as to manipulate our standards of perception through space that is what they are after. Hyperception was the term Charles Renfro used. For DS+R a museum should be more than a closed box to contemplate art. A museum should be a vehicle for the act of viewing itself. It’s about perceiving art, the space its in, the neighborhood and the community it inspires - perceiving with it the world around us. With this in mind, the new BAM/PFA was designed as a museum that offers visitors a continuous flow of the space celebrating the experience of art, food and movies all at the same time. The museum functions as a hub of cultural activities and stands for more than just a one path experience to contemplate art. Especially through the movie screen programming out on the street, the museum engages with the City of Berkeley like never before.
The new BAM/PFA, which opened on January 31st, 2016, is located on the corner of Center and Oxford Street at the foot of the University of Berkeley Campus. At first glance the building captivates with its asymmetry of old versus new, a white box perforated with windows versus a structure clad in panels of shimmering metal. Asymmetric as it may appear, the complex comes across grounded. While both preserving its industrial feel and giving it a new identity as an art museum, the 1939 Art-Deco Cal Press Building was refreshed and brought back to life with a great attention to detail. The extension - the new home for the movie theater and the archives - is located on Addison Street. Where the two buildings meet, the steel clad structure lifts its veil as if to let us have a peak inside (and outside) - reminding me of The Broad in LA. Above, the cantilevered cafeteria projects through and goes passed the Art-Deco building marking with its hang-over the museum’s entrance on Center Street. The light-filled interior greets you with a dynamic, soaring openness inspiring both curiosity and wonder. Wherever you are, you can see the galleries, the Craven forum, the cafeteria Babette, the theater, the library and archives. The presence of both buildings is felt - as are the Berkeley arts' district and the campus across the street. The materials and colors used are simple and beautiful - I really dig the orange staircase connecting the different levels. It feels like both floating in a big void and experiencing see-through moments simultaneously. It is about getting lost in a play of wonderful moments! Go, check it out yourself!