Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SFMOMA – Welcoming an old friend back to the City

Welcome back / The new-look SFMOMA has grown from five to 10 stories.

Last Thursday evening, my wife and I welcomed an old friend back to San Francisco. The San Francisco Museum of Modern ART (SFMOMA) reopened earlier this month after being closed for the past three years while undergoing a massive – and challenging – expansion project by Oslo and New York design firm Snøhetta. The new-look SFMOMA has grown from five to 10 stories. Dropping in on the newly transformed museum after work for a short visit before heading out for dinner and shopping, we delighted in seeing some favorite artworks and architectural features – including some of the gems from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, considered to be one of the world's greatest.

The largest living wall in the U.S. greets visitors to SFMOMA.
From first glimpse, there's much to like about the new look and space of SFMOMA, including new galleries, expanded exhibition space, better lighting, greater access, art-filled public spaces, six terraces and sculptural staircases, which offer unique views out to the city.

As visitors step outside onto the main terrace, they are greeted by a giant living wall designed by Habitat Horticulture. It is part art, part landscape and it's the nation's largest public green wall of native plants.

Constellation  (1949) / From Alexander Calder: Motion Lab
We delighted in seeing the Alexander Calder: Motion Lab, which highlights Calder's restless innovation in bringing actual movement into art. We viewed About Time: Photography in a Moment of Change, a thematic exhibition which investigates how photography has profoundly reflected, inflected and transformed our perception of time through its 180-year history. We also saw Model Behavior, Snøhetta's initial sketches and models for the expanded SFMOMA building, located in a challenging and prominent urban site on Third Street, just south of Market Street.

A swarm of chaotic energy /
Studying Antony Gormley's "Quantum Cloud VIII"
Finally, upon ascending to Floor 5, we admired British Sculptors, in which more than forty years of diverse sculpture by artists who were born or reside in Great Britain was displayed.

My favorite was Antony Gormley's "Quantum Cloud VIII," a 1999 steel sculpture that was acquired by the Fisher Family in 2000. According to the sculptor, "Quantum Cloud VIII conceives of the body as a swarm of chaotic energy. A human figure seems to alternately materialize from and disintegrate into the cloud of metal bars."

Created between 1999 and 2009, Gormley's Quantum Cloud series reflects on "how the subatomic particles and energy that make up our bodies are integrated with those that compose the universe around us."

Alexander Calder /
Big Crinkly (1969)
There is much to see and enjoy in the 170,000 square feet of exhibition space, and as members, we look forward to going back often to see some of the things we missed during our initial visit. Some of the current exhibits include:

Paul Klee in Color, which includes paintings and watercolors by the Swiss-born modernist Paul Klee (1879-1940) that explore "his intuitive and theoretical approaches to color."

German Art after 1960, which is an overview of leading German artists such as Gerhard Richter, Georg Baslitz, Anselm Kiefer, and Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Typeface to Interface, which features graphic design from the Collection, "a trajectory of iconic type and the evolution of digital tools marking the rapid transformation of graphic design over the past sixty years."

San Francisco / A city that loves art and open spaces.
In its 81-year history, SFMOMA has established itself as a premier showcase for modern art – think Calder, Close, Kahlo, Kelly, Pollack and Warhol. One things certain: There's definitely a new a positive dedication to openness as the museum begins a new dialogue with San Francisco, a city that loves its art.

To read more about what art critics are saying about the new SFMOMA design:

Photos: All photos by Michael Dickens © 2016.

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