Conceptual? Yes. Intelligent? Yes. Over my head? Yes. Local artist Bill Fontana is an international phenomenon and has been a pioneer of sound art for the past 40 years. Turning what we're accustomed to with visual art on its head, it is not what we see but rather what we hear that is Fontana's body of work. He calls it sculpture, but what you're looking at in his work is only an instrument that generates the desired effect. And this time around, the SFMOMA building itself is the medium for Fontana's latest site-specific sound sculpture.
We recently wrote about a collection of film shorts exploring the history of the Bay Area's experimental cinema, called Radical Light. Riding that wave is the SFMOMA, which is showcasing a sweet new batch of shorts called Bay Area Ecstatic. Showing this Thursday at 7 pm in the Phyllis Wattis Theater, it's a look at the decades of "cine-sorcerers" who have passed through the Bay Area and conceived films full of mysticism, drug-induced states of being and frenzied sexuality.
Drumroll, please … SFMOMA has selected the Norwegian architecture firm of Snøhetta to design the larger-than-life museum expansion set to house the massive Fisher Collection. Initial design concepts of the team's first West Coast building in the US will be unveiled in spring 2011. The renowned firm will collaborate with a local San Francisco team to create additional gallery space in the museum's Third Street building, as well as an extension designed for Howard Street, which will connect to the back of the existing museum.
In a way, SFMOMA’s exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape thumbs its nose at the likes of Ansel Adams and Minor White. Gone are the steep cliffsides and winding rivers, so too are the romanticism and the awe in the face of nature’s grandeur. In its place are run-down buildings, barren trailer parks and decrepit gas stations: man’s specific imprint on the natural world. The photographs—stark and deceptively poignant—are treatises on humans’ capabilities, but there’s not a single person in the frames.
It’s a introduction with a hot must-see/sell-by date. “Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection” just opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this week, but many of the staggering modern and contemporary artworks -- the buoyant Alexander Calder mobiles, epic, straw-strewn Anselm Kiefer paintings and monumental Chuck Close portraits -- won’t be on view forever (though the museum is now the home of all these masterworks). A good deal will be under wraps until the forthcoming expansion of the museum, which will include a new wing for the collection.
SFMOMA announced four firms that are the finalists in the museum’s hunt for an architect to design its forthcoming expansion, which will triple the size of its galleries. Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Foster + Partners, and Snøhetta, made the final cut based on their past work and interviews conducted over two-days last month (as opposed to design proposals for the new expansion).
May brings rising artists on the move and familiar names back on the scene. Here's a brief look at a few of the Bay's openings and art events, just in time for First Thursday.
A bit of hard work and dedication never hurt anyone. Our beloved SFMOMA has already amassed $250 million out of their $480 million campaign goal. Money will be used for renovations, include tripling of the public space, expanded educational programs, enhancement of exhibitions and other services for the public. Particularly the anticipated Fisher Collection, a prized accumulation of private modern and contemporary art, will be sure to up the SFMOMA's street cred. Perhaps the new burst of support is from the Gap collaboration, but we're in full support either way. Their 75th year is off to a great start.