Advance Exhibition Schedule

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is dedicated to making the art for our time a vital and meaningful part of public life. Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, a thoroughly transformed SFMOMA, with triple the gallery space, an enhanced education center and new free ground-floor public galleries, opened to the public on May 14, 2016.

In addition to presentations drawn from its outstanding collection of over 34,000 artworks, as well as the renowned Doris and Donald Fisher Collection and the Pritzker Center for Photography, SFMOMA presents the following special and temporary exhibitions.

Updated: October 19, 2018

Special Exhibitions

Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World

On view November 10, 2018–February 24, 2019
Floor 7

Bracketed by the conflicts associated with Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the celebratory moment of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, this survey of Chinese contemporary art looks at the bold movements that anticipated, chronicled and agitated for the sweeping social transformation that brought China to the center of the global conversation. With a concentration on the conceptualist, performative and political art practices of two generations of artists, this exhibition examines how Chinese artists have been both critical observers and agents of China’s emergence as a global presence and places their experiments firmly in the global art-historical context.

Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. Major support for Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is provided by Diana Nelson and John Atwater, and Susy and Jack Wadsworth. Generous support is provided by Shannon and Dennis Wong, and Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang. Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This exhibition is organized by Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and guest co-curators Philip Tinari, Director, UCCA, Beijing; and Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome. At the Guggenheim, Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell and Kyung An provided curatorial research and support. The curators worked with an international advisory committee that has met under the auspices of the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.

Image: Cao Fei, RMB City: A Second Life City Planning by China Tracy (aka: Cao Fei), 2007; color video, with sound, 6 min. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; © Cao Fei

Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory

On view December 15, 2018–March 31, 2019
Floor 4

This exhibition will highlight Vija Celmins’ “re-descriptions” of the physical world, which are created through an intensive and deliberative artistic process. For more than five decades she has been creating subtle, exquisitely detailed renderings of natural imagery — including oceans, desert floors, galaxies and night skies — and surveying how we perceive these vast visual expanses. Organized by medium and motif, Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory will feature nearly 150 works including paintings, drawings in graphite and charcoal as well as sculptures. SFMOMA will present the global debut of this retrospective, the first in North America in more than 25 years.

Major support for Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory is provided by the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund. Generous support is provided by Gay-Lynn and Robert Blanding, Janine and J. Tomilson Hill III, Marguerite Steed Hoffman, and Komal Shah and Guarav Garg. Research for the exhibition and catalogue was supported in part by SFMOMA’s Artist Initiative, which is generously funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Image: Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1977; graphite on acrylic ground on paper; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Alfred M. Esberg; © Vija Celmins; photo: Don Ross, courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

JR: The Chronicles of San Francisco

Opens April 25, 2019
Floor 1, Roberts Family Gallery

Celebrate the voices of our extraordinary, unique and diverse city in The Chronicles of San Francisco, by internationally recognized artist JR. Over the course of two months in early 2018, the artist set up a mobile studio in 22 locations around San Francisco, where he filmed and interviewed nearly 1,200 people from across the city’s multifaceted communities. In the completed work, a digital mural scrolls across a seamless bank of screens, bringing together the faces and untold stories of the people we encounter every day. Presented in SFMOMA’s Roberts Family Gallery off of Howard Street, this work is free and accessible to the public.

Image: JR and Roberto de Angelis at work in San Francisco, 2018; photo: Camille Pajot, courtesy

Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

On view May 18–September 2, 2019
Floor 4

Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again — the first Warhol retrospective organized in the U.S. since 1989, and the largest in terms of scope of ideas and range of works — will be an occasion to experience and reconsider the work of one of the most inventive, influential and important American artists. With more than 300 works of art, many assembled together for the first time, this landmark exhibition, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, will unite all aspects, media and periods of Warhol’s 40-year career.

Leadership support of Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again is provided by Kenneth C. Griffin. Bank of America is the National Tour Sponsor. Presenting support is provided by Carolyn and Preston Butcher. Generous support is provided by Sir Deryck and Lady Va Maughan, the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund, and Nancy and Alan Schatzberg.

Soft Power

On view October 2019–February 2020
Floors 4 + 7

Soft Power is an exhibition of recent work and new commissions by 20 artists from around the world. Artists gathered here understand themselves as social actors, question their responsibility as citizens, and are aware of their role as public intellectuals and provocateurs. They are part of a generation of artists who explore the potential of art, and the potency of artist as citizen. Neither explicitly political nor purely abstract, works in the exhibition will take various forms, from sculpture, to architectural intervention, to performance. The title comes from the phrase coined by political scientist Joseph Nye in the 1980s that describes how one country persuades other countries to do what it wants without force or coercion. Soft Power appropriates this term as a provocation.

Temporary Exhibitions

Louis Stettner: Traveling Light

On view October 27, 2018–May 27, 2019
Floor 3

Over the course of nearly eight decades, Louis Stettner defined a singular poetic vision in photography, honing a style influenced by both American street photography and French humanism. Stettner began working in the 1930s, becoming a member of the Photo League and befriending Lisette Model, Paul Strand and Weegee. After serving in the U.S. Army as a combat photographer, he moved to Paris in 1947, where he studied at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques and met the influential street photographer Brassaï. The following decades were the most important in his career, as he traveled back and forth between Paris and New York and found inspiration in that geographical duality. On the occasion of a major acquisition and donation from the artist’s estate, this thematic retrospective presents iconic prints from the entirety of Stettner’s career.

Major support for Louis Stettner: Traveling Light is provided by Randi and Bob Fisher, Rusty O'Kelley and John Haskins, and Champagne Louis Roederer. Generous support is provided by Sarah Wigglesworth and Asiff Hirji. Additional support is provided by The Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Arts Foundation.

Image: Louis Stettner, Brooklyn Promenade, Brooklyn, 1954; courtesy Janet Stettner; © Estate of Louis Stettner. All rights reserved.


On view November 17, 2018–February 18, 2019
Floor 3

Best known for his provocative and enigmatic images of Parisian life and nightlife between the two world wars, Brassaï has become one of the most prominent figures of 20th-century photography. This thematic survey of his career focuses on his celebrated depictions of 1930s Paris, where he photographed lovers, prostitutes, workers and gatherings in cafés, bars and dance halls. It also includes penetrating portraits of his artist friends — such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Henri Matisse — among other members of the city’s avant-garde. Brassaï brings together outstanding prints of his best work from the Estate Brassaï Succession in Paris, as well as from leading museum collections in the U.S. and France.

Brassaï is organized by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Major support for Brassaï is provided by The Bernard Osher Foundation.

Image: Brassaï, Billiard Player, Boulevard de Rochechouart, 1932–33; Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris; © Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism

On view December 22, 2018–April 28, 2019
Floor 6

Distinctive architecture, uninhibited ocean views, bold supergraphics, shared open space and meditative tranquility — these were the beginnings of The Sea Ranch, a beacon of Modernism on the Northern California coast. Designed by a small group of Bay Area architects and designers in the early 1960s, the development was envisioned as a progressive, inclusive community, guided by the idealistic principles of good design, economy of space and harmony with the natural environment. This exhibition brings together original sketches and drawings from the project's designers, along with archival images, photographs of The Sea Ranch today and a full-scale architectural replica. The environmentally attentive design philosophies explored at The Sea Ranch, along with the now-iconic graphics, resonated globally and continue to influence architecture and design today.

Generous support for The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism is provided by the Estate of Arnold A. Grossman. Additional support is provided by The Sanger Family Architecture & Design Exhibition Fund.

Image: Rush House interior and ocean view, 2018; photo: © Leslie Williamson

Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here

On view April 20–August 4, 2019
SFMOMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Suzanne Lacy is a pioneer of socially engaged art and public practice, promoting dialogue and collaborations with communities — artists, activists, organizations, schools — throughout her prolific career. Co-presented by SFMOMA and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here is the first retrospective of the Los Angeles–based artist. At SFMOMA, visitors can explore Lacy’s entire career, from her earliest feminist work to her latest immersive video installations. The YBCA presentation offers a new, experimental approach to authorship and participation, revisiting key collaborative projects through the lens of today. This includes an in-depth focus on The Oakland Projects (1991–2001), a series on youth empowerment, media education and policy. Both venues will host live activations in the galleries and a vibrant range of public programs.

Image: Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz, In Mourning and in Rage, 1977; performance, December 13, 1977, City Hall, Los Angeles; © Suzanne Lacy; photo: Maria Karras, courtesy the artists

Far Out: Suits, Habs and Labs for Outer Space

On view July 2019–January 2020
Floor 4

Fifty years after the first footsteps on the Moon, our ongoing journey into space continues to capture worldwide attention and global resources. Far Out: Suits, Habs and Labs for Outer Space will present an arc of visionary proposals at the nexus of design, art and engineering that have propelled us ever farther on our cosmic quest. Designs for space suits, habitats and laboratories will be exhibited, alongside select films and artworks from NASA, Raymond Loewy, Neri Oxman and Tom Sachs, among others. This exhibition will celebrate the idealistic designs — both realized and conceptual — taking us towards the final frontier.

Single-Gallery Presentations

Johannes Brus

On view October 27, 2018–May 27, 2019
Floor 3

On the occasion of an important acquisition to the photography collection, SFMOMA presents the first U.S. solo exhibition of German artist Johannes Brus. In addition to his photographic works, which vary in size from small to monumental, a selection of three of Brus’s sculptural works are on view, illuminating the breadth of his oeuvre. Known mainly as a sculptor, he studied at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf while Joseph Beuys was an instructor, with Anna and Bernhard Blume, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter among Brus’s peers. In the 1970s, he made photographic experiments that often involved mixing chemicals and painting on his photographs. In an alchemic way, he plays with the medium of photography, reversing its rules by embracing everything that is not supposed to be done in the darkroom. In his works, Brus creates a strange setup with flying objects levitating mysteriously through space. His works suggest a relation to the occult and are often infused with humor. The exhibition is presented in the New to the Collection gallery, a space dedicated to uncovering new or unacknowledged work by an artist.

Image: Johannes Brus, Untitled, 1971; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase © Johannes Brus; photo: Don Ross

New Work: Rodney McMillian

On view February 9–June 9, 2019
Floor 4

Los Angeles–based artist Rodney McMillian’s work addresses how American political and social histories shape issues of class, race, and gender. In his first solo museum presentation on the West Coast, McMillian brings together his longstanding interest in the representation of the American landscape with an exploration of home as a place and a state of mind. The exhibition features an abstract panorama spanning the entirety of the gallery paired with a soundscape interweaving iconic ’80s songs performed by McMillian and the voices of social advocates proposing radically new language and polices around the condition of homelessness. This immersive installation questions the political systems that promise freedom and equality for all, and highlights the power of the individual to affect hope and create change.

Generous support for New Work: Rodney McMillian is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, SFMOMA’s Contemporaries, Adriane Iann and Christian Stolz, and Robin Wright and Ian Reeves.