The department of Painting and Sculpture consistently engages with the art and artists of our time, continuing efforts that extend back to our opening in 1935. In addition to organizing major retrospectives and thematic exhibitions, the department is committed to supporting artists at the start of their careers, as founding director Grace McCann Morley did when she presented key early solo museum exhibitions of Claire Falkenstein, Adaline Kent, Roberto Matta, and Mark Rothko. Numbering more than eight thousand works, our holdings include paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, yet often expand beyond these categories to follow artists and their interests.
Our collection features art created between 1900 and the present with concentrations highlighting the full arcs of artists’ work. Wide-ranging in scope, areas of focus include Fauvism, Modernism in the United States and Mexico, and transatlantic Surrealism. Additional strengths include postwar American art with deep holdings in Minimalism and Pop art; postwar German art; and contemporary art both local and global. As the first museum on the West Coast dedicated to modern and contemporary art, we remain committed to supporting and exhibiting art and artists from California and the Bay Area. These efforts include the SECA art award, which distinguishes Bay Area artists whose work has not received substantial recognition, as well as retrospectives of local artists, including Ruth Asawa, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, and David Park.
The Artist Initiative team worked closely with Ellsworth Kelly and his studio to design and install four large galleries devoted exclusively to the artist’s work.