SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 10, 2023) — The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) today announced that it has recently acquired more than 100 works of art, reflecting an incredible range of formal and conceptual innovation and highlighting a spectrum of lived experiences. The new acquisitions represent SFMOMA’s priorities as the museum grows and diversifies its holdings, emphasizing the work of artists with connections to the Bay Area, artists part of the LGBTQIA+ community, women artists and artists of color. SFMOMA’s collecting vision also embraces practices and objects that help illuminate social, political and cultural happenings through a vast array of artistic and personal perspectives. Today’s announcement follows the recent news that SFMOMA became the first museum to acquire a capsule apartment from the Nakagin Capsule Tower.
Works by artists with connections to the Bay Areas include those by Pacita Abad, Joan Brown, Luke Butler, Violet Fields, Cathy Lu, Grace Rosario Perkins, Gregory Rick, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Lena Wolff. Further expanding SFMOMA’s strong photography holdings, the acquisitions include photographic suites and individual images by Sibylle Bergemann, Alejandro Cartagena, Lewis deSoto, Jess T. Dugan, Janna Ireland, Tom Jones, Tommy Kha, Justine Kurland, An-My Lê, Dionne Lee, Daido Moriyama, Nicholas Nixon, Ka-Man Tse, and Daisuke Yokota.
The group also features paintings, sculpture, works on paper and time-based media works by Rosa Barba, Tania Candiani, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Dewey Crumpler, Charles Gaines, Ewan Gibbs, Consuelo Jimenz Underwood, Ellsworth Kelly, Barbara Kruger, Tau Lewis, Guadalupe Maravilla, Keith Mayerson, Kazuko Miyamoto, Amor Muñoz, Paulina Peavy, Paul Pfeiffer, Ilana Savdie, Anna Sew Hoy, Lee Ufan, Kaari Upson, William T. Williams and Haegue Yang. Architecture and design works include those by Constantin and Laurene Boym, Matali Crasset, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Walter Hood, Max Lamb, Roberto Lugo, Lucy McRae, Olivier Morgue, Jonathan Muecke, Nakamichi, Charlotte Perriand, Rock-Ola, Yuri Suzuki, Tezontle and Tokujin Yoshioka.
“SFMOMA’s collecting strategies are focused on enhancing and expanding the narratives that we can tell in our galleries. The artists represented by our most recent acquisitions push the boundaries of what it means to create and experience art. Their practices reflect both formal innovation and an engagement with the lived contexts that shape our daily lives,” said Christopher Bedford, SFMOMA’s Helen and Charles Schwab Director. “I am grateful to our curatorial team for their vision in further developing SFMOMA’s collection and look forward to seeing these incredible works in our galleries.”
Pacita Abad, If My Friends Could See Me Now, 1991. Over the course of her three-decade career, Pacita Abad (1946–2004) developed a distinct visual style inspired by her lived experiences as an immigrant and extensive global travels. She is most readily recognized for her “trapunto” paintings, a hybrid art form in which she hand-quilted her painted canvases instead of stretching them over frames. If My Friends Could See Me Now is part of Abad’s significant Immigrant Experience series (1983–1995), which addresses a wide range of social and political happenings and gives voice to the experience of individuals often living on the margins. The series has roots in Abad’s time living in San Francisco and interest in legal work with the immigrant community. The work will be featured in SFMOMA’s presentation of Pacita Abad, the artist’s first retrospective, and continues the museum’s commitment to collect the work of artists with connections to the Bay Area.
Marcel Pardo Ariza, I Am Very Lucky, Very Lucky to be Trans, 2022. Marcel Pardo Ariza (b. 1991) is a visual artist and educator who explores the relationship between queer and intergenerational kinship through constructed photographs, color sets, site-specific installations and public programming. Ariza’s practice is guided by a vision to archive trans history, uplift collective care and challenge the boundaries of photography. I Am Very Lucky, Very Lucky to Be Trans was featured in SFMOMA’s recent 2022 SECA Art Award Exhibition as a large-scale photo installation that appropriated the visual vocabulary of Catholic polyptychs and queer nightlife aesthetics. The acquired suite of 16 photographic portraits shows 33 trans, intersex and gender-nonconforming activists and cultural leaders from the Bay Area. The work highlights and celebrates the strength of Bay Area activism in the ongoing struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights and visibility. It is the first work by Ariza to enter SFMOMA’s collection and reflects the museum’s commitment to both supporting local artists and expanding the range of LGBTQIA+ voices represented in the museum’s holdings.
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, House Burning, 2001. Canadian artists Janet Cardiff (b. 1957) and George Bures Miller (b. 1960) are a married couple and frequent collaborators. Their immersive multimedia installations utilize audio, theatrical elements and narrative direction to create large-scale environments that augment the viewer’s reality. SFMOMA has a long and extensive history with Cardiff, first exhibiting her work in the group exhibition Present Tense: Nine Artists in the Nineties (1997–98). The museum was also the first to acquire one of Cardiff’s video walks, The Telephone Call (2001), an updated iteration of which was recently on view. In the haunting short video House Burning, the artists arranged to burn down an old farmhouse on Cardiff’s father’s rural property in Ontario, Canada. Shot with an anamorphic lens, the video features the artists’ signature use of 3D sound. The acquisition of the video enhances SFMOMA’s holdings by the artist and its longstanding support of her practice.
Barbara Chase-Riboud, Well of the Concubine Pearl, 1967. Barbara Chase-Riboud (b. 1939) is an internationally celebrated artist, writer and sculptor, whose works investigate how intricate cast forms of aluminum or bronze paired with silk, linen and wool fibers can evoke history, memory and the body through monumental abstract figures. Well of the Concubine Pearl was made shortly after a significant 1965 trip to China, where Chase-Riboud visited and became fascinated by the Well of Concubine Zhen in the Forbidden City, where Zhen reportedly was drowned to put an end to her overt political influence. The sculpture is one of the earliest examples of the artist combining metal and fibers and, with its incorporated chain and lock, one of her only works to include found objects. Towering at almost seven feet tall, it is a stunning memorialization of an extraordinary historical figure and a powerful example of Chase-Riboud’s sculpture. It is the first work by the artist in SFMOMA’s collection.
An-My Lê, Fragment VII: High School Students Protesting Gun Violence, Washington Square Park, New York, 2018/2020; Fragment II: Migrant Workers Harvesting Asparagus, Mendota, California, 2019/2021; Fragment I: Battle of Corinth, Film Set (Free State of Jones), Bush, Louisiana, 2015/2023; Vaccination Site, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA, 2021/2023. An-My Lê’s (b. 1960) work blurs the boundaries between landscape photography and portraiture. Having come to the United States as a political refugee, she is particularly interested in exploring the status and experiences of migrants as well as notions of the American dream. Her work actively engages with identity, racism, immigration and political history. The first three photographs in the acquired group of works are from the artist’s ongoing series, The Silent General, which was first shown at the Whitney Biennial in 2017 and explores how history permeates contemporary life across the United States. The last picture depicts a surreal scene from the COVID-19 pandemic. The photographs join others by Lê already in SFMOMA’s collection, bolstering the museum’s holdings of works by Asian American artists and underscoring the artist’s significance in the history of American photography.
Tau Lewis, Trident, 2022. Tau Lewis (b. 1993) creates totemic forms as a means of exploring spirituality and myth. She leverages the power and tactility of textiles, hand-sewing and other sculptural techniques to convey a wide range of narratives. Lewis often saves and reconstitutes materials, bringing their prior histories to bear within the context of her new works. In Trident, Lewis stretches taut suede and snakeskin and intersperses both with shaggy, hand-stitched stacks of dark leathers, furs and fabrics—all sourced from prior uses. The work also reflects the artist’s interest in the multiplicity and simultaneity of varying belief systems. Trident alludes both to the three-pronged spear wielded by the Greek sea god Poseidon and to Obatala, the Yoruba sky god who forged the physical form of human beings. These two powerful deities, each of whom form a key part of world-building narratives in their respective mythologies, coexist in Trident. The sculpture is the first by Lewis to enter SFMOMA’s collection.
Guadalupe Maravilla, Disease Thrower #15, 2021. Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976) is a visual artist, activist and healer, whose sculptures and installations address trauma and disease, migration, survival and healing. His activations, objects and paintings blend his own experiences of displacement with contemporary accounts of migration and border crossing. Through his work, Maravilla addresses the ways in which trauma can be manifested physically in the body and across generations. He frames his recent sculptures as tools for holistic care and utilizes his practice as a forum for collective healing. Disease Thrower #15 is part of an ongoing series that the artist first began in 2019. The works are made in steel, covered with a cotton and glue mixture and ornamented with natural, commercial and readymade objects collected as the artist retraced his migration route. These objects are often activated by the artist and a group of healers through ritual sound baths. This is the first work by Maravilla to enter the collection and will be installed in the second episode of the SFMOMA exhibition What Matters in January 2024.
Grace Rosario Perkins, Cheii Knew We Were in The White World, 2022. Grace Rosario Perkins (b. 1986) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice actively engages with her identity, especially her Native American heritage (Diné/Akimel O’odham). Her large-scale, maximalist abstract paintings often begin with a prompt—a piece of text, object or personal narrative—that she then transforms through layers of symbols, materials and colors to create a visual “incantation” on canvas. Cheii Knew We Were in The White World was the first painting in a new body of work Perkins completed over the summer of 2022, capturing a new evolution in her application of paint on canvas. The artist spent a decade living in the Bay Area before relocating to Albuquerque. The work is the first by the artist to enter SFMOMA’s collection and reflects the institution’s commitment to both expanding its holding of art by Indigenous artists and those with connections to the Bay Area. It is currently on view at the museum on Floor 2.
William T. Williams, Red’s Dream, 1968. William T. Williams (b. 1942) is known for his vibrant and rhythmic abstract paintings, created through an intuitive process of layering interlocking geometric forms. Drawn to the visual arts from a young age, he was fascinated by the colorful patterns of his grandmother’s quilts and the stained-glass windows in his hometown church. After his move to New York City in 1968, these early references fused with an interest in the improvisation and vitality of jazz music as well as the formal attributes of hard-edged abstraction. Named for the artist’s father, “Red” William Thomas Williams Sr., Red’s Dream is one of the first paintings that Williams made in New York. Red’s Dream is part of his seminal Diamond in a Box series that features central jewel-like geometric forms determined by the artist’s range of motion that push out towards the edge of the canvas. The work is the first by the artist to enter SFMOMA’s collection and is an historic addition.
Haegue Yang, Geumjul-Powered Fertility Prayer Soul Sheet – Mesmerizing Mesh #92, 2022; Energy-Powered Soul Stick – Mesmerizing Mesh #74, 2021; Armor-Powered Shaded Soul Stick – Mesmerizing Mesh #93, 2022; Household-Deity-Powered Glossolalia Soul Sheet – Mesmerizing Mesh #91, 2022. Haegue Yang (b. 1971) often engages with everyday materials such as light bulbs, bells and envelopes, infusing them with new meaning by activating them in multidimensional space. Her practice embraces a wide range of formal approaches, including collage, graphic design, sculpture, video, performance and installation. While material experimentation is an essential aspect of her work, she is likewise interested in interpreting historical events and individuals through these formal explorations. In the series Mesmerizing Mesh, Yang explores how shamans regard hanji (traditional Korean paper) as sacred material and make shamanistic props out of them. The works address the spiritual foundation of the material and reflect the artist’s connection to ornamentation and craft traditions.
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Guadalupe Maravilla, Disease Thrower #15, 2021; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase, by exchange, through gift of Michael D. Abrams, Peggy Guggenheim, and the Accessions Committee Fund; © Guadalupe Maravilla; photo: Don Ross