Wild West: Plains to the Pacific, now open at the Legion of Honor, includes a spectacularly large photograph from the Museums’ collection, taken by Howard Clinton Tibbitts (1863–1937). Tibbitts was a San Francisco–based photographer who documented the American West for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s magazine Sunset, still published today. This photograph from 1899 depicts members of the U.S. Cavalry’s Troop F, who were charged with the protection of Yosemite from 1883 until 1916.
Throughout art history, the muse has played a central role in the artist’s process. The modern art muse has found its most frequent embodiment in women, from Victorine Muerent to Camille Claudel to Kiki de Montparnasse to Marie-Therese Walter (and the numerous other women portrayed by Picasso). Female muses have been both model and artistic catalyst to their typically more famous male collaborators, even though their own creative production is often considered of equal value. Lee Miller, one of the subjects of the special exhibition Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism (on view at the Legion of Honor through October 14), has long been pigeonholed as Man Ray’s muse. But, as this exhibition reveals, Miller’s relationship with Man Ray was only the beginning of her journey from muse to master.
August 31, 2012
As millions watch the Summer Olympics opening ceremony this Friday, July 27, the best athletes in the world will officially open the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The next day, Saturday, July 28, Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal opens at the Legion of Honor. Like the opening ceremony, and the Games themselves, this exhibition celebrates athletic
July 24, 2012
The special exhibition Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism opens tomorrow at the Legion of Honor. Earlier this summer, Julian Cox sat down with the San Francisco Arts Quarterly’s John Held, Jr. to discuss the photography of Man Ray and Lee Miller, their mutual invention and artistic discovery, and the stormy, but inspired, relationship that ultimately lasted a lifetime. Read the complete interview in issue 10 of the SFAQ print edition on August 3.
July 13, 2012
Since its invention in the mid 19th century, photography has been at the forefront of progressive art making traditions—so its presence in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 is no surprise. By the 1890s, photography was a half-century old and its supporters vociferously claimed it to be an independent art form, advocating for the idea of "art photography." Today we celebrate the birthday of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the greatest photographers from this period and whose work is currently on display in The Cult of Beauty at the Legion of Honor (closing this Sunday, June 17).
June 11, 2012
This weekend marks your last chance to experience the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 , on view at the de Young until June 3. As book designer and guest blogger Martin Venezky aptly notes, the catalogue represents a lasting impression of an otherwise temporary exhibition. Today, Venezky shares with us the process behind the creation of this unique publication.
The catalogue for the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 provides a nice case study into the inner workings of a book design. The book itself is deceptively simple. It contains reproductions of sixty-eight photographs from the exhibition, an essay, an interview, locations and credits, a foreword, and a set of additional images—some historical, some personal, and some working contact sheets. But beneath the seemingly placid surface there were hundreds of options to consider and decisions to make.
May 31, 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
Before there were digital image files and even before there was film, photographers captured images on glass plate negatives. In the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco there are over seventy of these glass plate negatives depicting scenes of Land’s End and old San Francisco. Discovered in the basement of the old de Young, these century-old negatives were in desperate need of cleaning and re-housing. When the negatives came into the paper conservation lab at the Legion of Honor for proper care, the labor intensive project proved a perfect opportunity for pre-program conservation student Jennifer Martinez.
May 10, 2012
FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums permanent collections. Today we commemorate the 1906 earthquake and ensuing fire that ravaged the majority of San Francisco. Arnold Genthe’s Untitled (Portals of the Past), a jewel of the Museums’ photography collection, provides a look back at that dark day. This photograph is currently not on display, so please enjoy this exclusive virtual viewing.
April 18, 2012
On Sunday night, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the much-anticipated season premiere of AMC’s Mad Men. Set in 1960s New York, Mad Men follows the careers and lives of Madison Avenue advertising executives as they negotiate the changing landscape of that mythologized decade. Currently on view at the de Young are three exhibitions that tap into this tumultuous time period: Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 (through June 3), New Dimensions: Prints and Multiples from the Anderson Collection (through July 1) and Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler (through May 13).