“Painters and sculptors open our eyes to new ways of imagining what we couldn’t have imagined before.”
A cornerstone of SFMOMA’s identity since we first opened in 1935, the department of Painting and Sculpture consistently engages with the art and artists of our time. Whether by supporting artists at early stages of their careers, as founding director Grace McCann Morley did when she presented the first solo museum exhibitions for Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Arshile Gorky, or by organizing major retrospectives and thematic exhibitions, we are committed to fostering new ideas and approaches to modern and contemporary art.
Our collection features art created between 1900 and the present, and highlights the work of numerous individual artists in depth. Purposefully wide-ranging in scope, areas of concentration include Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism in France; Modernism in the United States and Latin America; American Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop art; postwar German art; and contemporary art from around the globe. As the first museum on the West Coast dedicated to modern and contemporary art, a large part of our collection focuses on artists from California, and particularly the Bay Area.
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.
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.