New Contemporary Arts Initiative

SAN FRANCISCO (November 19)—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) are launching a new contemporary arts initiative at the de Young and Legion of Honor to augment the institution’s collection, programming, and outreach. Building upon each museum’s unique history and identity, the initiative is dedicated to commissioning new exhibitions, installations, performances, and public programs that activate the buildings and collections.

“We want to be bold and playful,” says Max Hollein, FAMSF Director and CEO. “In addition to continuing our tradition of presenting important retrospectives, such as the recent Ed Ruscha and current Frank Stella exhibitions, we plan to use our two unique spaces in their extraordinary park settings as major platforms for ambitious and surprising interventions.”

German multimedia artist Carsten Nicolai, who performs and writes music under the pseudonym Alva Noto, launched this new direction with the installation of Fades (2016), a video projection incorporating gradients of light determined by linear and logarithmic wave modulations that move in dynamic patterns to a synchronized soundtrack of white noise, in the de Young’s Wilsey Court. On September 24 more than 800 visitors took in a spectrum of tones and decibels accompanied by rapidly changing visuals as part of an exclusive after-hours performance by Noto to mark the closing of the month-long installation.

Fades was followed by Movie (2015), a video by British artist and Turner-prize nominee Hilary Lloyd, gives extended treatment to Lloyd’s long-term interests: the changes effected by fractional plays of light, the theatricality of the everyday, the vagaries of the gaze, and the formless and unfixable specters of the mind’s eye. In its nonlinear structure and shifting focus, incorporating static and moving objects and scenes, the piece emphasizes the transient nature of Wilsey Court—its connection of inside and outside and its multiple sources of light, both artificial and natural.

With the recent appointment of Claudia Schmuckli as Curator-in-Charge, Contemporary Art and Programming, the contemporary arts initiative will shape a new discourse at FAMSF.

“By inviting artists to draw out connections between the art of the past and current forms of artistic production that are diverse, multifaceted and complex, we hope to redefine the nature of public engagement throughout the museums,” states Schmuckli.

In 2017 FAMSF will present Rodin Centenary at the Legion of Honor, marking 100 years since Auguste Rodin’s death. Over the course of the year, the initial installation of 50 works from the museum’s extensive collections will be subject to interventions by Swiss artist Urs Fischer and British artist Sarah Lucas, who will conceive discrete installations in dialogue with Rodin’s melodrama of mortality and eroticism.

Visit and for news on future exhibitions and programs.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and was designed by George Applegarth. It opened in 1924 on a bluff in Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its holdings span 4,000 years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It holds the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

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