Event Press Release


SFMOMA Art Auction Returns Modern Art Council Presents Museum's Biennial Fund-raiser

Release date: February 5, 2008

The Modern Art Council of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will host Art Auction 2008 on Wednesday, May 14, 2008. As one of the museum's major fund-raising events, this year's auction will feature more than 100 lots representing an extraordinary range of art, including photographs, paintings, and works on paper donated by local and national galleries as well as by artists themselves.

The event will include both live and silent auctions during the course of the night. The live auction will include some 30 works by such important artists as Diane Arbus, Squeak Carnwath, Olafur Eliasson, Philip Guston, Richard Serra, and Martin Puryear, among others. The silent auction will feature more than 70 works by artists including Christopher Brown and Peter Voulkos. Proceeds from Art Auction 2008 will benefit the museum's world-class exhibition and educational programs.

"The auction has grown dramatically since its founding by Modern Art Council volunteers more than 17 years ago, but it has not lost sight of its mission to provide the Bay Area and beyond with an opportunity to buy museum-quality art while generating meaningful financial support for SFMOMA," says Modern Art Council President Dolly Chammas. "We expect Art Auction 2008 to be the best yet."

The highlight of the live auction will be the work Turbosphere (2007) by Icelandic artist Eliasson, whose work was the subject of a recent critically acclaimed survey organized by SFMOMA. Eliasson creates formally diverse works that are, to use his own words, "devices for the experience of reality," provoking a heightened level of enjoyment and engagement that is profoundly felt. Materials found in the natural landscape—light, air, water, moss—are put to the service of artworks that are less objects than experiences. Nature merges with artifice in scenarios that clearly expose the means by which they operate. In this way Eliasson's art is equally wondrous in impact and transparent in structure.

Another standout will be the work A castle in Disneyland, Cal. (1962) by Arbus, who is known primarily for photographs of people she discovered in New York City and its environs during the 1950s and 1960s. Her "contemporary anthropology"—portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle-class families, transvestites, people on the street, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities—stands as an allegory of postwar America, an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality. Some of her best-known images—identical twins in New Jersey, a "Jewish giant" slouching to fit in a living room scaled to his diminutive parents, and a young couple on Hudson Street whose demeanors evoke both early adolescence and late middle age—have become photographic icons.

Guston's charcoal drawing Untitled (1970), estimated at $150,000, undoubtedly will be another marquee item. Guston's 50-year career both reflected and shaped the changing conditions of American art in the latter half of the 20th century. The artist engaged each decade anew, evolving imagery that moved from richly symbolic realism to abstraction to a searching form of autobiographical figuration in the final years of his life.

Art Auction 2008 begins at 5 p.m. with cocktails and the start of the silent auction for the event's Benefactor-level supporters; doors open at 6 p.m. for general ticket holders. The event continues at 7 p.m. with the live auction, cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres by McCall Associates.

Art Auction 2008 is organized by the Modern Art Council, SFMOMA's lead fund-raising auxiliary since 1934. Lead sponsorship of the 2008 Art Auction is provided by iShares and Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe LLP; In-kind sponsorship is provided by Bonhams and Butterfields; the Painter's Place Picture Framers; Robert Mondavi Winery; and Ship Art International.

Auction items can be previewed at SFMOMA May 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in The Schwab Room. Art Auction 2008 previews are free and open to the public. Please note: Silent auction bids will be accepted during previews, but bidders are encouraged to attend Art Auction 2008 to ensure the success of their bids.

Tickets for the event are $700 Benefactor, $350 general, with a limited number of tables for six available at $6,000. For tickets or more information, please call 415.618.3263 or visit www.sfmoma.org/artauction.

HIGHLIGHTS OF ART AUCTION 2008 AT SFMOMA
Diane Arbus
A castle in Disneyland, Cal., 1962
Gelatin silver print, from edition of 75
25 x 25 in.
Estimate: $25,000–$30,000

Squeak Carnwath
Physical Embodiment, 2004
Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel
90 x 80 in.
Estimate: $45,000–$50,000

Olafur Eliasson
Turbosphere, 2007
Stainless steel and neon bulb, from edition of 10
35½ in. diameter
Estimate: $70,000–$75,000

Teresita Fernandez
Line of Fire (Double) & Ring of Fire (Double), 2004
Ink on mylar
18¾ x 22¾ in.
Estimate: $10,000–$12,000

Tim Gardner
Tobi on a Chairlift, 2007
Pastel on gessoed paper mounted on canvas
16 x 20 in.
Estimate: $30,000–$35,000

Philip Guston
Untitled, 1970
Charcoal on paper
26½ x 30½ in.
Estimate: $100,000–$150,000

Emily Jacir
House, 2003–6
Plexiglas and laminated chromogenic print on museum board, from edition of 10
22¼ x 30 in.
Estimate: $5,000–$10,000

Sze Tsung Leong
Tiantong Ziyan Third District North, Changping District, Beijing, 2004
Chromogenic print, from edition of 10
40 x 48 in.
Estimate: $$8,000–$12,000

Lisa Milroy
Japanese Prints, 1991
Oil on canvas
77½ x 93½ in.
Estimate: $25,000–$30,000

Jorge Pardo
Untitled, 2006
Silkscreen on canvas
56 x 36 in.
Estimate: $45,000–$50,000

Martin Puryear
Untitled AP 11/13, 1999
Etching and aquatint with chine collé
27 x 31¾ in.
Estimate: $4,000–$6,000

Richard Serra
Between the Torus and the Sphere V, 2006
Etching, AP 6
39½ x 39½ in.
Estimate: $6,350–$9,500

Gary Simmons
Gateway Study, 2007
Pigment and oil paint on paper
Each of three panels 10 x 10 in.
Estimate: $28,000–$34,000

Emerson Woelffer
Untitled, 1994, from The Chair Series
Oil and acrylic on canvas
40 x 30 in.
Estimate: $16,000–$20,000

Media Contacts

  • Robyn Wise, 415.357.4172,
  • Senior Public Relations Associate, 415.357.4170,

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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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