Exhibition Press Release

SFMOMA Presents Architectural Abstractions By Photographer Todd Eberle

Exhibition dates: December 16, 2005 - March 07, 2006

Release date: August 12, 2005

From December 16, 2005, to March 7, 2006, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the exhibition Todd Eberle: Architectural Abstractions. Organized by guest curator Joseph Rosa, former Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design at SFMOMA, and Ruth Keffer, SFMOMA curatorial associate for architecture and design, the exhibition showcases twelve large-format (60 x 45 in.) photographs by Todd Eberle. The presentation focuses on Eberle's recent architectural abstractions—cropped details of ceilings—and other architectural surfaces—and patterns from twentieth-century buildings by such noted designers as Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Philip Johnson. This is the first time these works have been shown publicly.

Eberle's interest lies in photographing the ceiling plane—a marginalized surface in contemporary architecture—and visually editing it. He shifts the horizontal surface to a vertical one (the gallery wall), highlighting elements that are rarely seen when these interiors are experienced. Eberle's photographs also incorporate abstract images of grilles, windows, tiling, and other architectural details.

Highlights of works in the exhibition include the ceiling outside an elevator bank at Gordon Bunshaft's Lever House, New York (2002); a powder room ceiling in a Johnson-designed house in Dallas (2002); an elevator cab at the Lake Shore Drive Apartments by Mies van der Rohe in Chicago (2002); and a Frank Lloyd Wright ceiling at Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois (2002). The exhibition will also include work from Eberle's 2005 building series.

Eberle, who is best known for his photographs of Donald Judd's works and buildings in Marfa, Texas, started his career taking photographs of such noted artists and architects as Zaha Hadid, Philip Johnson, Brice Marden, and Agnes Martin. He then expanded into architectural photography, focusing on the work of Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia, Gehry's Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and Herzog & de Meuron's Prada Aoyama Boutique in Tokyo. His fashion photography can be found on the pages of Vanity Fair and Vogue, among others.

Eberle was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1963 and studied photography at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York. Two of his photographs of Herzog & de Meuron's Prada building are in SFMOMA's collection.

The exhibition furthers the Architecture and Design Department's ongoing commitment to collect and display architectural photography, as demonstrated through an exhibition of the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto in 2000 and more recent group exhibitions featuring photographs by Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman. Other photographers represented in SFMOMA's architecture and design collection include Wayne Andrews, Richard Barnes, Adam Bartos, Oliver Boberg, Wolfgang Hoyt, Bill Maris, Daniel Mihalyo, Thomas Ruff, Lara Swimmer, and Judith Turner.

Media Contacts

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


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Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project 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,  through 2016, SFMOMA is “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.

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