Event Press Release


Peter Schjeldahl To Speak At SFMOMA As 2005 Phyllis Wattis Distinguished Lecturer April 7 - 8, 2005

Release date: March 3, 2005

Since its inception in 1995, the Phyllis Wattis Distinguished Lecture Series at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has brought the highest caliber of scholarship and art commentary to the Bay Area. This year the series features Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for The New Yorker, in a two-part program in conjunction with the exhibition Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective.

Born in 1942 in Fargo, North Dakota, Schjeldahl attended Carleton College and the New School and worked as a newspaper reporter in Minnesota, Iowa, and New Jersey. He subsequently wrote for ArtNews, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and 7 Days and joined The New Yorker in 1998. In addition, Schjeldahl is the author of six books of poetry and five books of art criticism, and he has taught in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University for four years. His work has been honored with a Guggenheim fellowship and the Frank Jewett Mather Award for excellence in art criticism from the College Art Association.

Since the late 1960s, San Francisco–based painter Robert Bechtle has created iconic images of middle-class American culture with photorealistic paintings of family scenes, streetscapes, and cars. Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective, on view at SFMOMA from February 12 through June 5, 2005, is the most comprehensive presentation of the artist's work to date.

The 2005 Phyllis Wattis Distinguished Lecture Series

The Story of the Image
Peter Schjeldahl
Thursday, April 7, 2005

Reception: 6 p.m.
The Schwab Room

Lecture: 7 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater


In 1981, Schjeldahl wrote, "[Robert] Bechtle's realism is symbolically vibrant. It makes a symbolic connection between the completely seen and the completely known." Using Bechtle's photorealist paintings as a starting point, Schjeldahl explores the narrative aspect of painting and its peculiar interplay with photography.

Tickets: $15 general; $10 SFMOMA members, students with ID, and seniors. Includes reception.


A Conversation with Peter Schjeldahl
Peter Schjeldahl
Neal Benezra, director, SFMOMA
Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture, SFMOMA

Friday, April 8, 3 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater


Benezra and Bishop engage Schjeldahl in a wide-ranging discussion of photorealism and its role in the creation of contemporary art. A question-and-answer period with the audience follows the dialogue.

Free with Museum admission.

Media Contacts

  • Libby Garrison, 415.357.4177,
  • Robyn Wise, 415.357.4172,
  • Sandra Farish Sloan, 415.357.4174,

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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project to open in 2016 that will significantly enhance gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase more of its expanded permanent collection. While the museum is temporarily closed for construction, from June 3, 2013 to early 2016, SFMOMA will be “on the go” with an extensive array of off-site programming across the Bay Area, including collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, major outdoor projects and commissioned installations, and new education initiatives.

Visit our Web site at www.sfmoma.org or call 415.357.4000 for more information.

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