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The Manetti Shrem @Davis

Added on by suzy baur.

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. 

Check out The Manetti Shrem Museum
Check out Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and SO-IL
Watch Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem to learn more. 
And listen to KQED Radio Forum 12/06/16 and read sfgate

Out of Our Way through March 16, 2017. 

Art Exhibits in 2016

Added on by suzy baur.

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..... 

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

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. 

Check out deYoung and The Legion of Honor. 
Wild Wild West: through September 11th, 2016
Ed Ruscha: through October 9th, 2016


March 30, 2016

Sleek by day, lavish at night ~ Oscar de la Renta

Crazy beautiful fabrics, amazing textures, fabulous detailing........

Through May 30th, 2016. 
Check out Oscar de la Renta at the deYoung; and also Mannequin Dressing


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. 


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


Added on by suzy baur.

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.

Check out Mario Botta
Check out Jensen Architects
Check out Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture

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

June 2nd, 2011... 
Snøhetta unveils their design for SFMOMA expansion. 
Check out Future SFMOMA.
To learn more about the expansion, visit dezeen

June 2nd, 2013... 
Museum's last day at the existing building. 
Track the progress via construction cam and construction photos
To learn more about Snøhetta, visit dezeen

August 2014...

December 2014...

April 2015...

May 2015....

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. 

The new SFMOMA opens on May 14, 2016
Check out Le Situ


Added on by suzy baur.


"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!

Check out BAM/PFA
And Diller, Scofido + Renfro
Also check out Bidding Adieu to an Icon

Bidding Adieu to an Icon

Today on December 22nd, 2014 the BAM/PFA as we know it, closed its doors forever. Located on Durant Street in Berkeley, the museum was designed by Mario J. Ciampi (1907-2006), whose other works include St. Peter's Church in Pacifica, and built in 1970. In 1997 it was deemed seismically unsafe. The museum has always held lots of inspiration for visitors, students and artists alike. I love this Brutalist building with its striking core, its ramps and overhangs. It never ceases to surprise me how the ramps gently lead you up to the galleries and back to the center again.  

The Farewell Ravel on this final day was both spectacular and bitter-sweet. It is sad to see it go. However, I do so only with one eye crying... The other eye is full of enthusiasm for the new museum to come. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR), the new BAM/PFA will open to the public in 2016. The design includes the retrofit and extension of the former University of California Press, a 1939 Art Deco building, located in Berkeley's art district. I cannot wait for its doors to open. Being a big fan of DS+R, an interdisciplinary design studio based in New York City, I have always admired their work! Notable projects are the High Line New York, the ICA Boston and the Blur at the Expo.02 Yverdon les Bains amongst others. 

To learn more go to new building
Check out Mario J. Ciampi
Check out Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Diller Scofidio + Renfro create new home for BAM.

Closing Exhibit

Three exhibits mark the beginning of the end of the soon to be closing Berkeley Art Museum on Durant Ave.

American Wonder draws upon the BAM/PFA collection, apparently one of the finest of American folk art in California. Predominantly made by itinerant artists, these works reflect the years between 1776 and 1861 while capturing the lives of Colonial settlers and their aspirations during  a time of enormous change. I enjoyed exploring a world that seems so far away, yet is still so close. Some of the dresses and the detailing were quite surprising. 

Matrix 255 is John Zurier's first solo show in a museum. Born in 1956, he graduated from UC Berkeley in 1984. Inspired by Iceland where he has been traveling since 2011, Zurier applied - as a new element - tactile materials such as jute or coarse linen onto the frame. With a remarkable technique, he excels in merging line and mass, translucency and opacity to fix even the most subtle of textures onto canvas. These abstractions evoke nature's elements such as earth, grass, ice, water, fog and light. They may speak to us on many levels, however I think they also strike a very contemplative note. My eyes constantly wanted to scan the picture plane appreciating the various levels of subtle tactility. 

Hofmann by Hofmann is a fitting tribute to an excellent artist, brilliant teacher and generous donor, who was renowned not only in his native Germany but also later in the US. Hans Hofmann (1880 - 1966) came to teach at UC Berkeley in 1930 inspiring generations to come. He later moved on to New York. These paintings - being part of Hofmann's generous gift to the then burgeoning University art museums - are a fine representation of Hofmann's push/pull spacial theory and his thoughts on color as plastic medium. I have always enjoyed his paintings. They speak of enormous vitality, you cannot help but getting pulled in. 

To learn more, visit BAM/PFA

Through December 22, 2014. 

First Look @Asian

Added on by suzy baur.

First Look at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is an exhilarating exhibit showcasing recent acquisitions to their growing contemporary art collection. These exciting explorations into various techniques, mediums and materials - pencil, oil, acrylic, ink, lacquer, paper, fabric, wood block, rattan, bamboo, metal, assemblage, photography, digital animation - radiate reflections on nature, urbanism, society, cultural history while mirroring dialogues with both Eastern as well as Western traditions.  

Artists such as RongRong&irni, Pinaree Sanpitak, teamLabZhu Jinshi, teamLab, Zheng Chongbin, Yang Yongliang, Sopheap Pich and Chen Man among others are represented with eye-catching pieces that speak to the viewer with their mesmerizing technique and individual themes - engaging us on many levels. It is fascinating to trace how ink meets acrylic in Zheng Chongbin's creation or the contemplative nature of teamLab's animations! Chen Man's photographs are stunning. And Zhu Jinshi's thick sensual use of paint echoes a hint of Turner's groundbreaking technique of brushwork in a radically expressive way. 

A must-see exhibit featuring works of art one cannot help but keep going back to!

October 11th, 2015
To learn more, see press release

Untitled, No. 25, 2008 By RongRong&inri (Chinese, born 1968 and Japanese, born 1973); Gelatin silver print

Untitled, No. 25, 2008
By RongRong&inri (Chinese, born 1968 and Japanese, born 1973); Gelatin silver print

Cold Life,  2014 By teamLab (Japanese, est. 2001); Digital animation still (7:23min)

Cold Life,  2014
By teamLab (Japanese, est. 2001); Digital animation still (7:23min)

Iris, 2014 By Pinaree Sanpitak (Thai b. 1961) Acrylic and pencil on canvas

Iris, 2014
By Pinaree Sanpitak (Thai b. 1961)
Acrylic and pencil on canvas

Life Survives by the Power of Life, 2011 By teamLab, (Japanese est. 2001); Digital animation still (6:23min)

Life Survives by the Power of Life, 2011
By teamLab, (Japanese est. 2001); Digital animation still (6:23min)

 Four Seasons: Spring, 2011 By Chen Man (Chinese b. 1980); acrylic face-mounted print

 Four Seasons: Spring, 2011
By Chen Man (Chinese b. 1980); acrylic face-mounted print

First Drop of Water Series #2, 2014 By Zhang Jian-Jun (Chinese b. 1955); Ink, oil, acrylic, and paper fibers on canvas. 

First Drop of Water Series #2, 2014
By Zhang Jian-Jun (Chinese b. 1955); Ink, oil, acrylic, and paper fibers on canvas. 

The Third Time Going to the Yellow Mountain By Zhu Jinshi (Chinese, b. 1954); Oil on canvas, 2011. 

The Third Time Going to the Yellow Mountain
By Zhu Jinshi (Chinese, b. 1954); Oil on canvas, 2011. 

Ended Season, 2011 By Zheng Chongbin (American, b. China, 1961); Ink and acrylic on paper

Ended Season, 2011
By Zheng Chongbin (American, b. China, 1961); Ink and acrylic on paper

The Night of Perpetual Day, 2013 (detail) By Yang Yongliang (Chinese b. 1980); Four-channel HD video with sound, still (8:32min)

The Night of Perpetual Day, 2013 (detail)
By Yang Yongliang (Chinese b. 1980); Four-channel HD video with sound, still (8:32min)

Turner @deYoung

Added on by suzy baur.

"Every glance is a glance for study, contemplating and defining qualities and causes, effects and incidents, and develops by practice the possibility of attaining what appears mysterious upon principle."  - JMW Turner, 1809

James Mallord William Turner (1775 - 1851) was one of the greatest and most controversial painters of the Romantic era. He was born in 1775 London during the Industrial Revolution and the dawn of the French Revolution. As a landscape pioneer, Turner overshadowed the British landscape painting during the first half of the 19th century - a period of great change not just socially, politically and technologically but also culturally and artistically. Renowned for his oil paintings, watercolors, engravings and book illustrations, he would inspire generations to come.

Turner's success was immediate. Upon his father's encouragement to pursue his talents, he entered the Royal Academy of Arts in 1789 at the age of 14. In 1796 he exhibited his first oil painting from where his career took off. In 1802 he was elected to full academician status. Two years later he opened his own picture gallery to showcase his work; and in 1822 a second. His many admirers and collectors - among them a new generation of rich, private patrons - embraced his works not only for their audacity in form and style but also for their celebration of nature and choice of contemporary subject matter. 

Turner was a passionate itinerant throughout his life. Prosperous by 1800, he was able to travel freely and independently. The outbreak of the war with France in 1793 made traveling through Europe unsafe, so Turner limited his voyages to Britain. En route he would always take notes and make pencil studies in a pocket-sized sketchbook; these visual records would serve him as aides-mémoires for his oil paintings and watercolors back at his studio. Academically trained, he did not paint from motif in oil nor watercolor en plein-air. Instead he focused on training his visual memory in such a way that color sketches deemed unnecessary to him. 
The Peace of Amiens in 1802, allowed him to travel abroad. His first tour took him to Paris and Switzerland and proved to be extremely inspirational. First, it reenforced his endless fascination with the sea in relations to the sky. Second, the Musée de Louvre offered him a unique chance to study the old masters - Claude Lorrain, Nicholas Poussin, Salomon Ruysdael in particular. It also sparked in him the idea of opening his own gallery. Third, the Swiss alps with their heroic grandeur left an enduring impact on his conception of landscape painting. 

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citalla, from the Steps of the Europa Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citalla, from the Steps of the Europa
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

Snow Storm Steam Boat off a Harbour's Mouth making Signals in Shallow Water and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the Arile left Harwich Oil on canvas: exhibited 1842

Snow Storm
Steam Boat off a Harbour's Mouth making Signals in Shallow Water and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the Arile left Harwich
Oil on canvas: exhibited 1842

1803 marked the beginning of the Napoleonic wars and it was not until 1817 that Turner was able to pursue his continental travels. In 1819 he made his first trip to Italy, where he fell in love with the mediterranean (sun) light in general and Venice in particular. For the next few decades his continental travels would take him to Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Austria; he would return to France, Italy and Switzerland several times. After his final tour to France and a long, creative life, Turner’s health began to deteriorate in 1845. He died in 1851; he was 76.
JMW Turner left behind a unrivaled volume of breath-taking works in regards to not only an immense diversity of subject matter but also a dazzling evolution of technique - a sixty year transition from topographically exact renderings to creations of visual audacity. It is a prolific outpour of his creative genius and limitless imagination - 540 oil paintings, 1,600 watercolors, 150 literary vignettes, and 19,300 sketches. 

Turner's Bedroom in the Palazzo Giustinian (The Hotel Europe), Venice; Watercolor and gouache on paper ca. 1840

Turner's Bedroom in the Palazzo Giustinian (The Hotel Europe), Venice; Watercolor and gouache on paper
ca. 1840

One of Turner's biggest legacies is how he accomplished to dislodge history painting from its privileged, highest rank within the academic genre hierarchy by challenging long-held beliefs such as landscape painting should solely be regarded as a record of a given location. By producing highly creative responses to contemporary life and showing how strong of a potential for imagination in both execution and contemplation landscape painting was capable to possess and evoke, he elevated this low genre to new heights. He was endlessly fascinated by the authenticity of a personal experience, the vulnerability of men vs elements and by nature's force. 
Most importantly, Turner's oeuvre is a visual testimony of his fascination with atmosphere, light and color - he rendered atmospheric perspective in such a fluid and breathtaking.  It is also a testimony to his compulsive exploration to break down conventional forms of representation while relentlessly searching for a new language of stylistic application. His water colors are superb and stand in a fascinating contrast to his oil paintings: they have an abstract, if not modern feel about them. Late in his work, both techniques - watercolor and oil painting - seemed to converge. Light effects were the primary focus with some details almost indiscernible. 

By retracing Turner’s supreme artistic technique over the picture plane - the painterly yet rough brushwork, the vibrant colors, the magical rending of the atmosphere -  the canvas suddenly becomes alive. It is no longer a glossy, smooth surface, nor merely a structured window to on the world with a moral message trying to appeal to our intellect and reason. His luminous works try to reach us on an emotional level - much in the spirit of the romantic era. With their seemingly out-of-balance, fluid compositions they pull us right in and this with an invitation to experience Turner’s persona coming through, his emotions, his thoughts, his personal experience.
By appealing to our senses with a turbulence of big waves, dark clouds, heavy rain, gleaming sun rays, blazing flames, Turner’s creations cannot but evoke intense feelings such awe, drama, terror, horror, suffering and grief. And in this moment - when our gaze is turned to the surface of the painting - we happen to witness the truest form of the aesthetic and artistic intend: the manifestation of the creative journey, the thoughts and emotions involved - through which personal experience turns into art.

Norham Castle, Sunrise Water on paper; ca 1845 (?)

Norham Castle, Sunrise
Water on paper; ca 1845 (?)

What his critics decried as shockingly radical - the dazzling, sometime expressive use of color, the atmospheric light effects, the indistinct if not abstract blotches of shapes, the thick sensual paint application, the contemporary subject matter and the non-representational tendencies - are now seen as heralds of modernism.


JMW Turner: Painting Set Free is a feast for the eyes! Through September 20th, 2015. 
Check out de Young
Learn more about Turner, visit The Tate

Sam Smiles, JMW Turner, Tate Publishings, 2000

Approach to Venice Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844

Approach to Venice
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844

Peace - Burial at Sea (detail) Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

Peace - Burial at Sea (detail)
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

Shipping Boats Bringing a Disabled Ship into Port Ruisdael (detail) Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844   

Shipping Boats Bringing a Disabled Ship into Port Ruisdael (detail)
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844


The Blue Rigi Water on Paper; 1842

The Blue Rigi
Water on Paper; 1842

Art Exhibits in 2015

Added on by suzy baur.

Seeing Time at the KALA Art Institute, 2nd Hand at Pier 24, Fertile Ground at the OMCA, Toulouse Lautrec at the Crocker, Botticelli to Braque at the de Young....

May 30, 2015

If you'd like to get inspired and view masterpieces spanning from a period of over 450 years, then you are in for a treat at the de Young Museum, San Francisco. Botticelli to Braque features some fifty plus masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland with the majority being true gems to revel in forever: the exhibit includes religious and mythological paintings, landscapes, portraits and still lifes.

I fell with love with John Singer Sargent's Lady Agnew of Lochaw (1892), her striking yet delicate pose and the masterful rendering of her silky dress. Then the detailing Allen Ramsay did on Margaret Lindsay of Ewlick, Mrs. Allan Ramsay (ca. 1759) is exquisiteI caught myself wanting to caress the lace of her satin dress and steal the roses off the painting. Just has I wanted to snatch the strawberries off Sandro Botticelli's The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child (ca. 1485)
Camille Pissarro's Chennevières-sur-Marne (ca. 1865) is equally fascinating with its capturing of the hilly, riverside landscape of this Parisian commune, as is River Landscape with a View of a Distant Village (ca.1750) by Thomas Gainsborough. Or André Derain's Collioure (1905) and Pierre Bonnard's Lane At Vernonnet (ca. 1914), both are absolutely captivating in their color scheme depicting the vibrancy of Southern Europe. Eduard Vuillard's The Candlestick (ca. 1900) is superb in its unique viewpoint, composition and rending of the different textures. And not to mention Reverend Robert Walker, Skating on Duddingston Loch (ca.1795) by Sir Henry Raeburn, which is as simply as it is brilliant in captivating the reverend enjoying his favorite sport. 

But there is also Frans Hals, Paolo Veronese, Gerrit Dou, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edouard Vuillard, Paul Cézanne, Piet Mondrian…..So much to say, however this should suffice. Go and see for yourself!

Learn more, visit Botticelli to Braque

Through May 31, 2015. 

March 30, 2015

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) has always been a favorite artist of mine. He has been an inspiration not only for his masterful depiction of the colorful Parisian nightlife of theaters, cafe-concerts and the demimondes of the Belle Epoque but also for his huge contribution to the renaissance of the art of lithography. With his elegant yet exciting creations he immortalized formidable artists such as Yvette Guilbert, La Goulue, Jane Avril, Marcelle Lender, Aristide Bruant and Valentin Désossé. 

This traveling exhibition at the Crocker was drawn from Dutch private collections featuring lithographs, paintings, drawings, book illustrations and rare zinc show puppets by more than 50 artists. Classic lithographs by Toulouse Lautrec are juxtaposed with works by other well known avant-garde artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Juan Gris documenting modern life around them. While I enjoyed immersing myself into this colorful ambience - with Louis Abel-Truchet's Le Café-Concert, József Rippl-Rónai's Portraitand Henri Gabriel Ibles' Mère Moderne being especially eye-catching - I also found myself wanting to see more of Toulouse-Lautrec and his vast oeuvre. It felt as if they were trying too hard to re-create the vibrant fin-de-siècle atmosphere of Paris by including all these different artists and subsequently neglecting Toulouse-Lautrec and the art of lithography a bit too much for my taste. Nevertheless, the exhibit is very much worth seeing! 

As a side note, the Crocker museum is one of the oldest museums on the West Coast. Created as trust for the public by Margaret Crocker in honor of her shared vision with her late husband Edwin B. Crocker, the E.B. Crocker Art Gallery was built in 1871. It opened to the public in 1890. The museum's collection focuses on Californian and American as well as European Art. In 2010 - after an extensive eight year expansion designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates - the museum reopened with triple of its former exhibition space. 

To learn more, visit The Crocker and Toulouse-Lautrec Foundation
Also check out Gwathmey Siegel & Associates

Trough April 26, 2015

January 30, 2015

Combining their collections for the first time, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) have imaginatively created a remarkable exhibition addressing local histories and social forces that impacted the arts in California. Featuring a vast array of art works by legendary artists such as Diego Rivera, Imogen Cunningham, Mark Rothko, Jay DeFeo. Richard Diebenkorn and many more, Fertile Ground not only illuminates key moments in Californian art as well as social history but also highlights trends happening from the first half of the 20th century up to today. 

Learning more about San Francisco in the 1930s, made me want to go and see the murals at Coit Tower again. I also thought that the selected works representing GROUP f.64  were true gems: Water Hyacinth (1920s) by Imogen Cunningham and Dunes, Ocean (1934) by Edward Weston in particular. The main gallery fabulously chronicles the different movements and influences of the postwar area showcasing classics such as Untitled (1953) by James Weeks, Figure on a Porch (1959) by richard Diebenkorn and Horse (1982) by Deborah Butterfield. Barry McGee's Untitled (1996/2009/2014) marks the crowning end point to an excellent exhibition about visionaries and artist communities that have been crucial in shaping the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, California and beyond. A must see!

To learn more, visit omca
To learn more, check out Group f.64

Through April 12, 2015. 

January 20, 2015

The photographs presented in this comprehensive show at the Pier 24 in San Fransicso focus on found and reused imagery while resonating with today's digital age of sharing images. Through a simple change of context, existing pictures suddenly appear in a new light and are given new meaning. Works by Erik Kessels, Matt Lipps, Joachim Schmid and others are examined and brilliantly paired with vernacular photographs by pioneering artists such as John Baldessari.

I very much enjoyed Matt Lipps' Horizons and Maurizio Anzeri's Embroidered Postcards. Erik Kessels' 24 HRS in photos installation was quite overwhelming, and left me with a feeling of drowning. I think my favorite were Joachim Schmid's Photogenetic Drafts, a witty series of B&W portraits created with found photographs.  And last but not least, the Employee Badges (1930 - 1960) were absolutely fascinating. Do not miss them as you start your visit. 

Admission is free. To visit, please sign up at Pier 24
Also check out Melissa Catanese's video Dive Dark Dream Slow

Through May 31, 2015.

January 16, 2015

Celebrating 40 years of inspiration and creativity, Seeing Time - Time Traveller closes Berkeley Kala Art Institute's 40th anniversary year. This special exhibit, curated by Mayumi Hamanaka, revisits Kala's Seeing Time program (installations and performances throughout the Bay Area 1982-1992) featuring Kala fellowship alumni Freddy Chandra, Desirée Holman, Ranu Mukherjee, and Yasuaki Onishi. Their works explore the fleeting aspect of time ranging from astrology, nature, culture, light, and life.

The various contributions are as diverse in regards to style, technique, medium and hand writing as the artists themselves. Ranu Mukherjee Desert Bloom (2013) is as big as it is fascinating addressing many layers and questions.  Xeno-Real (2013), a hybrid film just on the wall next to the entrance sheds light on how it was created. My favorite was Vertical Emptiness KL (2015) by Yasuaki Onishi, which take up the entire left back area of the exhibit space. It is especially striking in its unique form and beauty. It is probably the most ephemeral piece in the exhibit. It will get destroyed - as other works by the artist - once the exhibit closes. 

In addition there also works on paper from the Kala Collection on view in the Roger Smullen Print & Media Center. 

Through March 21, 2015. 

To learn more about the exhibit, visit Kala
To learn more about each artist, visit Freddy ChandraDesirée HolmanRanu Mukherjee, and Yasuaki Onishi

Ai Weiwei @Alcatraz

Added on by suzy baur.

Today, I ventured out to Alcatraz, located in the San Francisco Bay, for the first time in my life and the reason was Ai Weiwei, a political activist and vocal critic of the Chinese government.  Consisting of seven site-specific installations, @large was created exclusively for Alcatraz and poignantly raises questions about human rights, freedom of expression and liberty. By addressing the fate of people around the world, who have been deprived of their individual rights for something they believe in, this exhibit touches you at the core.

Greeting visitors is With Wind, a breath-taking dragon kite meandering through the entire first exhibition hall showing off not only its colorful coat but also many quotes by activists, who have been imprisoned. Trace consisting of 176 portraits entirely made of Lego is striking and especially touching through the corresponding stories each of them has to tell. Featuring a magnificent larger than life bird's wing, Refraction can only be viewed through cracked and rusty windows and left me wanting more. I thought it added a potent edge to the feeling of restriction. Stay Tuned, a sound installation occupying a series of cell, invites visitors to sit and listen to music, poetry and spoken words of activists, who have been detained. Again, I thought it was heartrending just as Illumination, which occupies the former hospital and pays respect to people who have resisted cultural oppression. @large is as stunning as it is poignant. An absolutely must-see. I left very inspired however also with a heavy heart. 

Through April 26, 2015. 

To learn more visit Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz.
Or listen to How Alcatraz Became a Canvas for Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei: Forum Archive 10/22/14. 
Have passport, will travel: where will Ai Weiwei go? 


Added on by suzy baur.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) opened in 1969. Designed by architect Kevin Roche in collaboration with Dan Kiley (landscape design) and Geraldine Knight Scott (gardens), this concrete building with its pavilion system and its integration of outdoor/indoor spaces signifies an important example of mid-century modernism. The museum features three tiers housing the art, history, and natural science collection. In 2009 plans for a major renovation and expansion were announced: Mark Cavagnero Associates was selected for the design. In 2013 the museum reopened showing off the collection in a new light. 

I always enjoy strolling through their permanent collection and exploring the works by Richard Diebenkorn, Ruth Asawa, Mark Rothko and many others. The OMCA has a imaginative way of orchestrating temporary exhibitions with focus on the Bay Area in particular and California in general. Their permanent collection on California History on Level 2 is a must see.

The equally terraced sculpture gardens have a very inviting feel about them and are accessible from all three levels. They are home to more than 80 spices of plants and more than 50 sculptures. These gardens are one of my favorite outdoor spaces in Oakland to visit - both peaceful and inspiring - especially in spring when the cherry trees blossom. 

To learn more visit omca
Check out Mark Cavagnero Associates
Check out Kevin Roche
Check out Dan Kiley. 
Check out Geraldine Knight Scott


De Young

Added on by suzy baur.

This is one of my favorite (museum) buildings in the Bay Area, mainly because I am a secret admirer of the Swiss architects Herzog & DeMeuron. I think their way of working with materials and space is rather unique and fascinating.

Named for its founder and newspaper man M.H. de Young, the former building, which opened in 1895 and remodeled in 1915 by Louis Christian Mullgardt, was deemed seismically unsafe in 1989 and subsequently demolished in 2003. The new building designed by Herzog & De Meuron in collaboration with SF based architects Fong + Chan, Swinerton Builders and Hood Landscape Design opened in 2005. 

The exterior skin is of perforated embossed copper and acts more like an natural organism. Exposed to the salt air it will with time patina and turn blue-green reflecting the foliage of the surrounding Golden Gate park. This idea of the museum having a constant relationship with the park is also repeated inside. Interior fern courts and glass panels connect the inside with the outside and play with the visitors indoor/outdoor experience. 
Interestingly enough, the main museum and the tower are two structurally disconnected buildings. While the main museum is placed to emphasize its connection with the park, the tower rotates as it ascends/descends in a way so it orients itself with the grid of the City offering panoramic views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Park. Make sure to check out Ruth Asawa's wire sculptures in the tower lobby. 

The collection focuses on American Art from 17th century onwards, international contemporary art, textiles and costumes and art from the Americas, the Pacific and Africa. Their current exhibitions cover many a topic with focus on the 20th century.
Their scupture garden is a must and open to the public. Do not miss James Turrell's Skyspace Three Gems (2005) located in the sculpture garden on your right.

To learn more, visit de Young
Check out Herzog&de Meuron
To learn more about James Turrell, click here

Queen of Wire…

Ruth Asawa (1926 - 2013), one of California's most admired sculptors, has been a brilliant inspiration not only for generations of San Franciscans but also nationwide. She will always be remembered for her extraordinary wire sculptures, public commissions and community art projects. 
In 1982, February 12 was declared "Ruth Asawa Day" by the City and County of San Fancisco.

To learn more, visit Ruth Asawa
Also see California sculptor Ruth Asawa dies

Top left: Untitled, Oakland Museum of Art, 1974
Top center: Andrea Mermaid Fountain, Ghirardelli Square, 1968
Top right: 
Hyatt on Union Square Fountain, 1973
Bottom left: 
Buchanan Mall Fountain, Japantown 1976
Bottom center: 
Aurora Fountain, Bayside Plaza, 1986
Bottom right: Wire sculptures installation at de Young, Tower lobby, 2006



Added on by suzy baur.

This is one of the most interesting and inspiring places San Francisco has to offer. The San Francisco Art Institute, founded in 1871 and with the main campus being located on 800 Chestnut Street, is a two-story complex featuring two versions of exposed, reinforced concrete. The original, older part, designed by Bakewell & Brown (1926), was crafted as a Mediterranean Revival, a monastary complete with cloister. Its later companion was designed by Paffard Keatinge-Clay (1970) and cast as a brutalist addition.

Don't miss the Diego Rivera legendary mural The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931) inside the older building. And make sure to enjoy the magnificent views of San Francisco, The Russian Hill district and beyond.  

Check out SFAI
Check out Bakewell & Brown.
Check out 
Paffard Keatinge-Clay.
Check out Diego Rivera and Diego Rivera + SFAI


Impressions from Edge Effect May 14-17, 2015 at Fort Mason, Herbst Pavilion

Artists at the SFAI's graduate exhibition presenting their eclectic visions: installations, panting, photography, film/video, sculpture, printmaking, performances and hybrid forms. 

To learn more, visit SFAI

Top center: Elizabeth Bowler
Center left: Jay Scantling
Center center: Ann-Marie Cunningham
Center right: Shiwen Jing
Bottom left: Takako Matoba
Bottom center: Brittany Acocelli
Bottom right: Bari Fleischer, detail

Craneway Pavilion

Added on by suzy baur.

Albert Kahn (1869-1942) was born in Rhaunen, Kingdom of Prussia, and came to Detroit in 1880.  In 1895, he founded the architectural firm Albert Kahn Associates with his brother Julius. Their new style of construction, where reinforced concrete to replaced wood in factory buildings, was used for the first time with the Packard Motor Car Company's factory (1903). Henry Ford, whose was impressed by Packard plant's success and intrigued by its design, commissioned Albert Kahn to design the Ford Motor Company Assembly, now Ford Richmond Plant, in Richmond California. It opened in 1931 and became a major stimulant to the local and regional economy of Richmond and the SF Bay Area. During WWII the factory switched to assembling military vehicles. After the war the factory continued production of the Ford Plant keeping the economy afloat. However due to inability to accommodate increase production demands, the factory was closed in 1956 and production transferred to a new San Jose plant. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 severely damaged the plant. For decades the building stood largely abandoned. 

In 2004 Orton Development purchased the building and commissioned Marcy Wong Donn Logan for the restoration. The project was completed in 2009. Beautifully restored this outstanding example of 20th century industrial architecture is now home to retail and industrial tenants like Mountain Hardware and others.
The Craneway pavilion is a state-of-the-art facility hosting events, concerts and other productions. One of which is Codex, a biennial international (art) book fair and symposium being held this year from February 8th through 11th. Featuring close to 200 of the world's leading fine presses and book artists, this event is loved by bibliophiles, collectors and scholars alike. A must-see!

To learn more, visit Craneway Pavilion
To learn more, visit Codex Foundation.