Long Play

Bruce Conner and the Singles Collection

January 16-May 23, 2010

In Bruce Conner's electric THREE SCREEN RAY (2006), a new acquisition that premieres in this exhibition, Ray Charles's 1959 hit song "What'd I Say" is set to an ecstatic, frenzied collage — nude women, bomb explosions, fireworks — of original and preexisting imagery, including war newsreels, cartoons, and TV commercials. A tour de force of editing and experimental film techniques, the piece features Conner's manipulations of the film surface itself and his signature use of countdown leader. The work's point of departure and central image is Conner's 1961 film COSMIC RAY, which he adapted to three screens in 1965 and later reedited to create this gallery installation of three video projections. A rotating series of "singles," single-channel video works related to music or appropriating found footage, is presented in an adjoining gallery alongside Conner's MEA CULPA (1981), a forerunner of the music video genre. The May singles program moves beyond the SFMOMA collection to feature contemporary works by Bay Area artists Anne Colvin, John Davis, Kota Ezawa, and Anne McGuire.

Long Play: Bruce Conner and the Singles is presented by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as part of 75 Years of Looking Forward, a series of exhibitions and events organized in celebration of the museum's anniversary.

  • Bruce Conner, video still of shite orb emitting dashed lines of light
    Bruce Conner, MEA CULPA (still), 1981; 16mm film, black-and-white, sound, 5 min.; Courtesy the Conner Family Trust; Conner Family Trust
  • Bruce Conner, composite of three black and white images
    Bruce Conner, THREE SCREEN RAY (composite), 2006; three-channel black-and-white video projection with sound, 5:14 min.; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; Conner Family Trust; image: courtesy Conner Family Trust
  • Anne McGuire, still of woman's face singing
    Anne McGuire, I Am Crazy and Youre Not Wrong (still), 1997; single-channel video with sound, 11 min.; Courtesy the artist; Anne McGuire
  • Anne Colvin, video still, red image of four people dancing
    Anne Colvin, The Audition (still), 2008; single-channel video with sound, 1:20 min.; Courtesy the artist; Anne Colvin
  • Kota Ezawa, black and white illustrated video still of the Beatles
    Kota Ezawa, Beatles ber California (still), 2010; single-channel video with sound, 3:27 min.; Courtesy the artist; Kota Ezawa
  • John Davis, overlayed images of man's face and statues
    John Davis, Mark You Make Believe My Dear, Yes (still), 2006; 16mm transferred to DV, 13:30 min.; Courtesy the artist; John Davis

Jay DeFeo’s The Rose: The enormous painting that was “almost alive”

Artist Bruce Conner discusses his friend Jay DeFeo's painting The Rose (1958–66) and his film about the removal of the painting from her apartment.