Saturday, June 28, 2014

Modernism from the National Gallery of Art – Exhibit @ de Young Museum


Brochure for Modernism From the National Gallery of ArtBrochure for Modernism From the National Gallery of Art - FrontBrochure for Modernism From the National Gallery of Art - Inside

Not until I started preparing this post did I realize we’ve seen two Modernism-themed exhibits in one month. What’s up with that? The first was at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Modernism in the Pacific Northwest and the second, this exhibit at the de Young museum in San Francisco. Either the word “modernism” has lost its impact to register any connections in my mind, or we are museum junkies and will go to a museum at the drop of a hat. Probably both. The SAM exhibit was interesting, the de Young exhibit was so-so. The best I can come up with for my feelings about the de Young exhibition are:

  • I’m puzzled by the phenomenon of a rich couple whose collection is served up for us to ogle (no, not Google). This time at the de Young, we have Robert and Jane Meyerhoff to thank. They, thankfully, “amassed one of the most outstanding collections of modern art”[ref].
  • I think Frank Stella pieces are not the least bit interesting to look at, and there were a few in this exhibition.
  • We just came from the Precita Eyes mural tour where we saw a lot (almost too much) mural and street art in the Mission District of San Francisco. Then, walking into this exhibit at the de Young made me wonder about art in general, and how the importance of art is determined. 
Enough with the negativity, some positives:

  • The most interesting piece in the exhibit was Barnett Newmans’ 15-painting The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani (1958 – 1966) not so much for the subject matter, but for the presentation: in a somber chapel-like separate room. It reminded me of the Rothko room at the Tate Modern in London.
  • Terry WintersGraphics Table [1998] – reminds me a little of Mark Tobey.
  • Jean DubuffetsLa ronde de images [1977] - reminds me of street art, and Dubuffet’s name is just fun to say.

Left: Terry Winters Graphics Tablet [1998]; Right: Jean Dubuffet La ronde de images [1977]Terry Winters Graphics Tablet [1998]Jean Dubuffet La ronde de images [1977]

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