Shifting the Silence

April 9–September 5, 2022
Floor 7

Shifting the Silence features dynamic works by thirty-two women artists who use the radical language of abstraction to enhance our understanding of the world we inhabit. Named after artist Etel Adnan’s 2020 book about history and existence, Shifting the Silence embraces experimentation, impermanence, and subjectivity — bold yet poetic characteristics that mark the art of our time.

Featuring recently acquired works by Firelei Báez, Nairy Baghramian, Liz Hernández, Cinthia Marcelle, Tania Pérez Córdova, Lorna Simpson, and Haegue Yang, the exhibition harnesses their defiant, yet enlightened energy to explore visual culture, the motivations of its practitioners, and its varied influences. This experiential exhibition of art produced over the last quarter-century includes sculpture, photography, textile, video, painting, and time-based installation.

Exhibition Preview

Haegue Yang, Yearning Melancholy Red, 2008 (installation view, SFMOMA, 2022); collection SFMOMA, acquired through the generosity of Helen and Charles Schwab and purchase, by exchange, through a gift of Peggy Guggenheim; © Haegue Yang; photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Firelei Báez, Untitled (Baubo), 2020 (installation view); collection SFMOMA, Shawn and Brook Byers Fund for Women Artists and purchase, by exchange, through a gift of Peggy Guggenheim; © Firelei Báez
Tacita Dean, H540, 2015; collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Tacita Dean
Tania Pérez Córdova, Images 4, 2017; collection SFMOMA; Shawn and Brook Byers Fund for Women Artists © Tania Pérez Córdova
Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago Mata Machado, Nau/Now, 2017; collection SFMOMA, The Fund for
Contemporary Art; © Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago Mata Machado

Featured Artists

Etel Adnan

Leonor Antunes

Firelei Báez

Nairy Baghramian

Chakaia Booker

Cecily Brown

Tacita Dean

Liz Deschenes

Sharon Hayes

Liz Hernández

Miyako Ishiuchi

Jennie C. Jones

Agnieszka Kurant

Luisa Lambri


Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago Mata Machado

Julie Mehretu

Ayao Nakamura

Rivane Neuenschwander

Tania Pérez Córdova

R. H. Quaytman

Clare Rojas

Ursula von Rydingsvard

Amy Sillman

Lorna Simpson

Jessica Stockholder

Ayesha Sultana

Diana Thater

Kaari Upson

Rachel Whiteread

Haegue Yang

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye


Explore architecture through an interview with Leonor Antunes, listen as Etel Adnan reflects on her lightning-strike paintings, watch a TEDx Talk featuring Chakaia Booker, and more.



Presenting support for Shifting the Silence is provided by The Norah and Norman Stone Fund for Exhibitions of Contemporary Art.

Major support is provided by Randi and Bob Fisher, and Diana Nelson and John Atwater.

Generous support is provided by Jim Breyer and Angela Chao, the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund, and Pat Wilson.

Meaningful support is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Dolly and George Chammas, Roberta and Steve Denning, Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Agnes Gund, Takeo Obayashi, Katie and Matt Paige, Carlie Wilmans, and Sonya Yu.