December 12, 2012
Last updated: May 21, 2013
Installation view, Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field, May 22, 2013–May 26, 2014; Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore) (1967) pictured in the foreground, Will (1994) in the background; © Mark di Suvero; photo: Matthew Millman
From May 22, 2013, to May 26, 2014, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy presents a major outdoor exhibition of sculptor Mark di Suvero’s works near the Golden Gate Bridge: eight large-scale steel sculptures installed at historic Crissy Field, a former airfield and military base that is now one of the most-visited national park sites within the Golden Gate National Parks. Curated by SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra, Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field surveys five decades of the artist’s work, including a recent sculpture that has never before been on public view. The temporary exhibition is the largest display of di Suvero’s work ever shown on the West Coast, and is free for all visitors, extending the programs celebrating the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary.
Coinciding with di Suvero’s 80th birthday, the exhibition holds particular significance for the artist, who immigrated to San Francisco from Shanghai at the age of seven. His passage beneath the Golden Gate Bridge—which opened a few years before his arrival—proved to be a lasting inspiration, as the scale and color of the structure have influenced di Suvero throughout his life. Di Suvero notes, “It was like a rainbow, a bridge coming to the New World starting a new life. The woman who chose the color of the bridge, Malo Lowell, taught me how to work wood as a teenager and from there, all was freedom.”
Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field kicks off the extensive slate of off-site exhibitions and programming that SFMOMA will offer during the museum’s expansion project. The exhibition opens just prior to the temporary closure of the building for construction from June 3, 2013, through early 2016.
“We could not be more thrilled to embark on the museum’s new phase by celebrating one of the greatest artists to come from San Francisco, in a setting beside an iconic and beloved Bay Area landmark,” notes Benezra. “We are incredibly excited about this unique collaboration between SFMOMA and the NPS and Parks Conservancy to present these extraordinary works of art to the widest audience possible, against such a fitting, historic, and striking backdrop.”
Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field continues the NPS and Parks Conservancy’s ongoing commitment and deep relationship with the city that is home to the Golden Gate National Parks. “Similar to the recent di Suvero presentation at Governors Island, this exhibition provides an opportunity to further explore how art can create a new understanding and appreciation for a historic landmark like Crissy Field,” said Golden Gate National Recreation Area Superintendent Frank Dean. “The fact that di Suvero is a sculptor with local roots and influences adds another dimension to the story,” he noted.
Greg Moore, President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, added, “We are grateful to partner with a world-class museum that is bringing the work of an internationally renowned artist to an extraordinary national park. We all take inspiration from the Golden Gate Bridge and the beauty of the park lands surrounding this beloved landmark; di Suvero’s work joins us in that uplifting emotion.”
The Exhibition at Crissy Field
Raised in the Bay Area, di Suvero is an internationally acclaimed artist whose unique bold physical style has made him one of the most influential sculptors of our time. His large-scale works can convey powerful emotion, while also revealing the artist’s masterful sense of form, composition, and movement. Using such industrial materials as salvaged steel and steel I-beams, he creates dramatic compositions that actively engage viewers and the surrounding landscape. These sculptures cannot be understood from any single vantage point, and their dynamic asymmetry demands a comprehensive viewing in three dimensions. Each shift in position offers a new perspective on the works’ intersecting sculptural lines. Through such transitions, di Suvero’s compositions frame their spatial environment, revealing new facets of even the most familiar terrain.
Despite the scale of these sculptures, they imbue a sense of peace, beauty, and order also found in their natural surroundings. Measuring up to 50 feet high and 40 feet wide, di Suvero’s works especially resonate at Crissy Field, with its immediate views of the Golden Gate Bridge. This installation of his work is both a homecoming for di Suvero and an opportunity to reconsider the physical space of this iconic site. Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field activates the outdoor space in a new and engaging way while drawing connections to the area’s rich history and distinctive waterfront presence. Made predominantly of industrial steel I-beams, the sculptures serve as a reminder of the impact of steel production on industry, technology, and the military, which greatly influenced the landscape of Crissy Field as a former airfield and military base. Abstract in nature, the works offer viewers an opportunity to draw more subtle connections to the surrounding environment, as with Dreamcatcher (2005–12), which features a massive bent steel element that moves in the wind, pivoting atop a four-legged base capped by interlocking circular forms. The sculpture’s lines recall those of navigational tools, while its responsiveness to the weather brings to mind sailing or flight.
Most sculptures featured in the exhibition have been lent by the artist, including Magma (2008), which is on public view for the first time. Other works include key local and national loans, including one from the private collection of Doris and Donald Fisher and others from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York.
Related Content and Programs
Visitors can learn more about di Suvero and his work through a multimedia tour, which features interviews with the artist, curatorial commentary by SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra, and insights from the National Park Service. The tour can be accessed via mobile website at sfmoma.org/disuvero; via cell phone by texting “sculpture” to 565-12 or calling 415-294-3609; and as a podcast downloaded at sfmoma.org/podcasts or SFMOMA Artcasts on iTunes. Audio commentary is available in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. Video interviews with the artist can also be viewed online at sfmoma.org/video or youtube.com/sfmoma.
Beginning June 7, 2013, SFMOMA docents will lead tours of the exhibition from Friday through Sunday every week. In September 2013 the museum will launch its newly created bimonthly Live Projects series, intensive immersions in the art and ideas of contemporary artists, with Mark di Suvero as the first featured artist. Through talks, screenings, performances, new artist commissions, workshops, education activities, family programs, and more, Live Projects will explore how the work of selected artists opens new and alternative perspectives on who we are and where and how we live.
For the most up-to-date information on exhibition-related content and programs, visit sfmoma.org.
About Mark di Suvero
Born in Shanghai, China, in 1933, Mark di Suvero immigrated to the U.S. in 1941 and settled in San Francisco. He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1957. In 1960, early in his artistic career, di Suvero was paralyzed in a near fatal accident while working part-time for a construction company. While in a wheelchair, he mastered a welding technique that allowed him to begin making sculptures in steel.
While the artist has lived and worked in New York since 1957, he has never lost sight of his connection to the Bay Area, maintaining a second studio in Petaluma. Local institutions, including the City of San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums, Oakland Museum of California, and SFMOMA, have collected his work. At SFMOMA, di Suvero’s Ferro (1978–82) is in the permanent collection and four di Suvero sculptures are also a part of the Fisher Collection. Other works currently on view in the Bay Area include Pax Jerusalem (1999), installed at the Legion of Honor; Sea Change (1995), at South Beach Park near AT&T Park; and Miwok (1981–82), at Stanford University’s School of Medicine Dean’s Lawn.
Di Suvero’s works have been shown in many galleries and museums in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia since the 1960s. His work has also been featured in a series of major outdoor exhibitions in cities since the early 1970s, including in 1975 the first exhibition of a living artist at the Tuileries in Paris and then a citywide exhibition presenting work in all five boroughs of New York City. Later shows were presented in Stuttgart, Germany; Valence, France; Nice, France; Venice, Italy; Paris, France; and most recently on Governors Island in New York City, presented by the Storm King Art Center and organized in conjunction with The Trust for Governors Island. In the U.S., cities with permanent installations of di Suvero sculptures include Baltimore, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Francisco, South Bend, and Toledo.
Di Suvero has also been active in public art projects and supporting the cultural community. He was one of the co-founders of the Park Place Gallery in New York, which opened in 1963 as a cooperative space where works of emerging artists were shown, and in 1977 he founded the Athena Foundation, helping artists achieve their creative goals. In 1986 he created the Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, where he and a coalition of community members and artists transformed an abandoned landfill in Queens into an exhibition space and studio for artists, as well as a park for community residents. In 2006 di Suvero received the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities for his contributions to American culture through his artwork, his commitment to helping other artists, and his creation of new venues for the visual arts. In 2011 President Obama honored di Suvero with the 2010 National Medal of the Arts, commending his work for its ability to portray both social and political vision.
About SFMOMA’s Off-Site Programming
During the construction of SFMOMA’s building expansion project, the museum will present extensive off-site programming in the community from the summer of 2013 to early 2016. An array of collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, public art displays and site-specific projects, and fresh education initiatives will unfold throughout the Bay Area and beyond. In addition to Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field, other site-specific installations during this period include Project Los Altos, an exhibition sited in the heart of Silicon Valley featuring newly commissioned artworks by leading contemporary artists, on view in the city of Los Altos (from November 9, 2013 to March 2, 2014); a multilocation display of Doug Aitken’s Empire trilogy (showing all three video installations simultaneously for the first time (fall 2014); and off-site presentations of the museum’s ongoing SECA Art Award shows and New Work series.
Throughout this two-and-a-half-year period, SFMOMA will experiment with new ideas, engage in dialogue with a range of cultural partners, and create innovative ways to experience the museum’s collection, bringing the best of these ideas and initiatives back into its newly expanded home. Additional off-site programs are currently in development; more details will be announced as plans evolve.
Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field is presented by SFMOMA in partnership with the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Presentation of this exhibition is made possible by extraordinary support from the Fisher family. Premier support is provided by the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund and the Charles Schwab Corporation. Major support is provided by Agnes Gund in memory of George Gund III, and Robin and Virginia Wright. Generous support is provided by Barbara and Gerson Bakar, Nancy and Steven H. Oliver, and Levi Strauss & Co. Additional support is provided by Stuart and Gina Peterson.
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Founded in 1935, SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. From the outset, SFMOMA has championed the most innovative and challenging art of its time, and continues to exhibit and collect work by both modern masters and younger, less-established artists. The museum's internationally recognized collection includes some 30,000 works, featuring strong holdings in photography, painting and sculpture, architecture and design, and media arts.
About the National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior charged with managing the preservation and public use of America's most significant natural, scenic, historic, and cultural treasures. The NPS manages the Golden Gate National Parks, as well as 397 other park sites across the U.S. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/goga or call (415) 561-4700.
About the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
The Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization created to preserve the Golden Gate National Parks, enhance the experiences of park visitors, and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for the future. The Conservancy is an authorized "cooperating association" of the National Park Service, and is one of more than 70 such nonprofit organizations working with national parks around the country. To learn more, please visit www.parksconservancy.org or call (415) 561-3000.