When I joined the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as an intern nearly a year ago, I was charged with the dream-of-a-lifetime task of adding works from the de Young’s collection to the Google Art Project, an online collections database.
January Artist-in-Residence John Zaklikowski has titled his residency Culture and Physics Collide, an apt description for his artwork which utilizes a wide variety of technological materials and meets at the intersection of art and science. His large-scale assemblages investigate notions of perception and optical illusion, illustrating the interplay of art, science, literature, and cultural studies.
January 21, 2014
3D scanning and printing have made their mark on popular culture in the past couple of years with eye-catching headlines like “Researchers Closing in on Printing 3D Hearts” and “Tools of Modern Gunmaking.” Many museums have also started using 3D printing to foster greater engagement and creativity between their visitors and collections. As a cultural institution, one of the main challenges when experimenting with new technologies is to understand and evaluate how it can be used to benefit or bolster our collection and mission, and try to get beyond the initial “whoa—that’s cool!” factor.
August 23, 2013
Conversation 6, a special exhibition on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery in the Civic Center through April 27, pairs Jason Hanasik, a local multimedia artist, with Berndnaut Smilde, an internationally recognized installation artist from Amsterdam. Today’s guest blogger Meg Shiffler is the director of the SFAC Galleries, and in this entry focuses on the work of Smilde and its relationship to paintings featured in the special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.
March 15, 2013
De Young Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth are preparing for the final installation of their monumental triptych The Conflicts. Get a sneak peek at the culminating exhibition of their fellowship in the group show Punch Card, opening at Catharine Clark Gallery this Saturday, January 19, 2013. Hope and Roth will present the completed tapestries at the de Young in the Artist Studio throughout the month of March. In this blog post, Hope and Roth examine the role technology has played in the process of creating this work.
January 18, 2013
This Halloween, we take you inside one of the Museums’ most enigmatic inhabitants: the mummy Irethorrou. While mummies have long been the antagonists of numerous horror films, they also provide us with incredible insight into the funerary practices and religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians. We dare you to read on as curator Dr. Renée Dreyfus and Egyptologist Jonathan P. Elias unwrap the Museums’ mummy.
October 31, 2012
For the past two weeks, the world watched athletes from the world over compete and triumph in the 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, museums the world over competed on Twitter in the tongue-in cheek competition #MuseumOlympics, which originated right here in San Francisco. Willa Köerner, digital engagement associate at SFMOMA and today's g uest blogger, takes us behind the scenes of #MuseumOlympics and reveals the origins of what will surely become a new quadrennial tradition.
August 14, 2012
Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young celebrates the history of the dandy from Oscar Wilde to Jean Paul Gaultier. Whereas Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic style was derided as too feminine, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces gender bending, dressing men in skirts and women in exquisitely tailored suits. In this way, Gaultier's designs approach a new androgyny and subvert established fashion codes. The designer toys with standard concepts of the masculine and feminine throughout the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , but one exhibit in particular literally speaks to this issue. He is the Man in the Mirror.
June 1, 2012
Recently one of the Museums’ most generous supporters, Dorothy Saxe, purchased a sculpture for the collection in memory of our late director John E. Buchanan. Created by contemporary glass artist Beth Lipman, Candlesticks, Books, Flowers and Fruit (2010) is a complex compilation of multiple elements balanced precariously on a table. My role as an objects conservator is to ensure that all the elements of this fragile sculpture are installed safely and in keeping with the artist’s original intent.
May 18, 2012
Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.
October 12, 2011
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an iconic photograph by renowned Bay Area photographer Imogen Cunningham. Magnolia Blossom is currently not on view, so take some time to stop and smell the flowers (virtually)!
September 28, 2011
When you enter the exhibition Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection (on view at the Legion of Honor through October 2), you are immediately transported into the Dutch Golden Age.
August 11, 2011
In my last post, I introduced you to the cutting edge photography Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a technique invented by Tom Malzbender at Hewlett Packard Labs. Here at the Museums, we have been using RTI to gain better understanding of objects in our permanent collection. We have just completed another round of RTI photography of this 5th-century Greek pelike.
May 18, 2011
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is home to a unique collection of 167 film negatives taken by photographer Arnold Genthe chronicling the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires. The negatives were acquired by the Legion of Honor in 1943.
On the day of the earthquake Genthe, an established photographer best known for his society portraits and views of old Chinatown, took to the streets of San Francisco equipped with a handheld Kodak camera and pockets full of roll film.
The film Genthe used was composed of a gelatin silver emulsion on a thin plastic support of cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate film was introduced commercially at the end of the nineteenth century and remained in use until the mid-twentieth century. Lightweight, transparent and flexible, cellulose nitrate film freed photographers from the inconveniences of its predecessors, paper and glass plate negatives.
May 13, 2011
My name is Sue Grinols and as the director of photo services and imaging, I witness the intersection of art and technology on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be working in photography. Just seeing how technology is changing the field can be breathtaking, not to mention challenging.
Photographing artwork is a sub-specialty of studio photography. Here at the Museums, we use the same equipment and techniques as photographers who produce beautiful images of cars, perfume bottles, leather couches, and the perfectly grilled steak. But instead of trying to capture the steak’s sizzle or the couch’s inviting warmth, we attempt to bring out the essential character of the artwork while emphasizing its sublime beauty whenever possible. When we’re not doing that, we can make images that show the hard, cold details of an object in order to help conservators as they work through treating the artwork, or to help curators in their scholarly study of an object. It is this second type of photography that I want to blog about today.
May 2, 2011
The de Young Museum previews its new iPhone application dYinterpretations: A Journey through the de Young with Filmmaker-in-Residence Lise Swenson on Friday, February 11, during the museum’s weekly event Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the de Young. Museum lovers will be given the opportunity to download the new app for free in the iTunes App Store between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm prior to its official release on March 1 for $2.99.
February 10, 2011
Our newest podcast features FAMSF curator of ancient art and interpretation Renee Dreyfus, who talks about the 1979 Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition and the current Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Renee was on the curatorial team for the first Tut exhibition 30 years ago, and now heads up the FAMSF curatorial efforts for the current offering.