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 approximately 50,000 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.Download the Advance Exhibition Schedule
Updated: December 5, 2019
On view February 15–May 25, 2020
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) together with the Whitney Museum of American Art will present Dawoud Bey: An American Project, the first full-scale retrospective of Bey’s extraordinary career. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2017, Bey is recognized as one of the most influential photographers of his generation. Since the beginning of his career, he has used his camera to represent communities and histories that have largely remained underrepresented or even unseen. Bey has worked primarily in portraiture, making tender and direct portrayals of black subjects both on the street and in the studio. This exhibition includes the artist’s earliest bodies of work, such as Harlem, USA, which was exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979, as well as more recent photography and video projects that extend his work in portraiture and explore landscapes as sites of memory to evoke African-American history. Bey sees making art not only as an act of personal expression but also of social and political responsibility, emphasizing the necessary work of artists and art institutions to break down obstacles to access, convene communities and open dialogue.
Major support for Dawoud Bey: An American Project is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Randi and Bob Fisher. Generous support is provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and Diana and Steve Strandberg. Meaningful support is provided by The Black Dog Private Foundation, Wayee Chu and Ethan Beard, and Sarah Wigglesworth and Asiff Hirji.
Image: Dawoud Bey, Don Sledge and Moses Austin, Birmingham, AL, from the series The Birmingham Project, 2012; Rennie Collection, Vancouver; © Dawoud Bey
On view April 11–September 7, 2020
At the age of 38, David Park (1911–1960) abandoned a carload of his abstract expressionist canvases at the city dump and started painting “pictures” — a radical decision that led to the development of Bay Area Figurative Art. Organized by SFMOMA, this exhibition will be the first major museum exhibition of Park’s work in three decades and the first to examine the full arc of his career. Approximately 125 works will be on view, ranging from his tightly controlled paintings from the 1930s to his final works on paper from 1960. The heart of the show will be a rich selection of the 1950s Bay Area Figurative canvases for which he is best known — boldly executed compositions featuring musicians, domestic and vernacular scenes, portraits, boaters and bathers — that reveal an artist deeply connected to human experience at the peak of his powers, reveling in the expressive and sensuous qualities of pure paint.
Major support for David Park: A Retrospective is provided by Doris Fisher, Patricia W. Fitzpatrick in honor of Neal Benezra, Janet and Clint Reilly, and anonymous donors. Generous support is provided by Jean and James E. Douglas, Jr., Mary J. Elmore, Susan and Bill Oberndorf, the Thomas Weisel Family, and Anita and Ronald Wornick. Meaningful support is provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
Image: David Park, Two Bathers, 1958; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase through gifts of Mrs. Wellington S. Henderson, Helen Crocker Russell, and the Crocker Family, by exchange, and the Mary Heath Keesling Fund; © Estate of David Park; photo: John Wilson White
On view April 25–November 1, 2020
The first major survey presented in the United States of the internationally acclaimed artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, this immersive exhibition will explore our presence in fundamentally unstable environments through a focused selection of 16 large-scale installations. Born in Mexico City and based in Montreal, Lozano-Hemmer encourages visitors to interact with and become a part of the artworks, many of which investigate the intersections of art, technology, science and politics. This presentation will feature, among other major works, Vicious Circular Breathing (2013) and Pulse Spiral (2008), two sculptural installations that respectively collect and recirculate the breath and the heartbeat of participants, as well as Zoom Pavilion (2015), a room-sized projection that captures and tracks patterns of our behavior in public space. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Unstable Presence is co-organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), which will be the exclusive U.S. venue for this exhibition.
Generous support for Rafael Lozano Hemmer: Unstable Presence is provided by Debbie and Andy Rachleff and Carlie Wilmans.
Image: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Vicious Circular Breathing, 2014 (installation view, Pseudomatismos, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 2015); Borusan Contemporary Art Collection; © Rafael Lozano-Hemmer / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City; photo: Oliver Santana
On view April 25–September 7, 2020
Tauba Auerbach examines the boundaries of perception through an art and design practice grounded in math, science and craft. The artist’s interests often focus on connectedness, rhythm and form, intersecting with questions about the structure of the universe. Working in a wide range of media, Auerbach has created compositions that explore the properties of letters and symbols; drawings, books and large-scale installations that study binary relationships; trompe l’oeil paintings that experiment with depth and dimension; weavings and glass sculptures embedded with wave forms; and videos that interpret theories in quantum physics.
This exhibition, Auerbach’s first museum survey, presents her prolific and varied output over the last 16 years. Also included are Diagonal Press, the artist’s imprint for open-editioned publications, and Auerglass (2009), a two-person pump organ created by Auerbach and the musician Glasser (Cameron Mesirow). This immersive presentation is designed by Auerbach, along with an in-depth catalogue that serves as both an artist book and an index of work, process and references, created in collaboration with graphic designer David Reinfurt.
Major support for Tauba Auerbach — S v Z is provided by SFMOMA’s Collectors’ Forum. Generous support is provided by Joachim and Nancy Hellman Bechtle, Jim Breyer and Angela Chao, Katherine Harbin Clammer and Adam Clammer, the Elaine McKeon Endowed Exhibition Fund, and Sheri and Paul Siegel. Meaningful support is provided by Thomas and Lily Beischer and Dolly and George Chammas.
Image: Tauba Auerbach, Extended Object, 2018; private collection; © Tauba Auerbach
On view October 24, 2020–January 31, 2021
The most in-depth examination of the artist’s work in more than 20 years, Diego Rivera’s America will provide a new critical and contemporary understanding of one of the most aesthetically, socially and politically ambitious artists of the 20th century. Through a careful selection of some 160 objects, the exhibition will explore central themes of Rivera’s work in Mexico and the United States from the early 1920s through the early 1940s. During these two key decades in a prolific career, Rivera created a new vision for North America, informed by his travels between Mexico and the United States. Featuring extraordinary easel paintings and drawings of this period, as well as several portable frescoes, the exhibition will highlight the close relationship between Rivera’s mural and studio practices. Diego Rivera’s America will revisit a historical moment when Rivera, more than any other artist of his time, was instrumental not only in forging Mexican national identity, but also in imagining a shared American past and future.
Image: Diego Rivera, The Flower Carrier, 1935; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Albert M. Bender Collection, gift of Albert M. Bender in memory of Caroline Walter; © Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Katherine Du Tiel
On view Fall 2020–ongoing
Floor 1, Roberts Family Gallery
Beginning in the fall of 2020, in a groundbreaking partnership with City College of San Francisco, SFMOMA will host Diego Rivera’s monumental mural The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on the Continent, more commonly known as Pan American Unity. The mural, originally painted in front of a live audience at the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on San Francisco’s Treasure Island, is comprised of 10 fresco panels, and measures a total of 22 feet high and 74 feet wide (nearly 1,800 square feet). It was Rivera’s last project outside of Mexico, and is not only a treasured part of San Francisco history, but also one of the most important works of public art in the United States. Pan American Unity will be installed in SFMOMA’s free-to-visit Roberts Family Gallery on the ground floor in conjunction with an exhibition opening in October 2020. This extended and unprecedented loan will be the subject of a number of exciting new public programs including lectures, tours, talks, concerts, workshops and more.
The Presenting Sponsors for Diego Rivera’s America are Bank of America, Leslie and Troy Daniels, the Evelyn D. Haas Exhibition Fund, Sir Deryck and Lady Va Maughan, Helen and Charles Schwab, and Pat Wilson. Major support is provided by the Mary Jo and Dick Kovacevich Family Foundation. Generous support is provided by Jessica and Matt Farron, Mary Robinson, and Nancy and Alan Schatzberg. Meaningful support is provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation. Research and planning support for Diego Rivera’s America is provided in part by the Koret Foundation. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Funding for the conservation of Pan American Unity was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.
Image: Diego Rivera, The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent (Pan American Unity), 1940; © Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frieda Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico D.F. / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; image: courtesy City College of San Francisco
On view January 4–August 9, 2020
In the early 1970s, Lew Thomas set out to disrupt photography in San Francisco. Tired of the mystical thinking and emotionalism that he felt had dominated work produced in the region since the 1940s, Thomas pursued a practice grounded in Conceptual art and Structuralist philosophy. Donna-Lee Phillips and Hal Fischer were among the cohort of photographers who embraced Thomas’s mission and followed his lead in exploring the relationship between photography and language. For a short but intensely active period from the mid to late 1970s, the three frequently exhibited together, wrote about one another’s work and published books under the imprint NFS Press, founded by Thomas and Phillips. This exhibition will reunite their work for the first time in decades, offering an opportunity to reassess their legacy in the Bay Area and their place in the larger history of photography.
Generous support for Thought Pieces: 1970s Photographs by Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips, and Hal Fischer is provided by The Black Dog Private Foundation Fund and Randi and Bob Fisher.
Image: Lew Thomas, 34th Avenue Between Geary and Clement, 1972; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Jane and Larry Reed; © Lew Thomas
On view April 11–September 7, 2020
Organized to accompany David Park: A Retrospective, this exhibition will examine the weekly figure drawing sessions initiated by Park, Elmer Bischoff and Richard Diebenkorn in 1953. These artists’ gatherings, which expanded during the decade to include additional friends and colleagues, were held in each other’s Bay Area studios with hired models, both male and female. Together, the artists focused on mastering the human form by repeatedly drawing models in various poses, and experimenting with both traditional and alternative materials. The show will feature 32 drawings and two sketchbooks that capture the collegial and dynamic nature of these sessions.
Image: David Park, Figure in Chair, ca. 1958; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Lydia Park Moore and Roy Moore; © Estate of David Park; courtesy Natalie Park Schutz, Helen Park Bigelow, and Hackett Mill, San Francisco; photo: Don Ross
On view December 7, 2019–June 7, 2020
This exhibition will present a new series of sculptures by Berlin-based artist Nevin Aladağ. For her first solo exhibition in the U.S., Aladağ will explore culture, transformation and belonging by uniting distinct elements of disparate heritage into single works. In the series Resonator, musical instruments from around the world — a harp, mandolin, chimes, bass guitar, drums and didgeridoos — will be joined as geometrically abstract forms that create new sounds. Aladağ’s sculptures invite participation and experimentation, and the exhibition will include a program of sound improvisations by Bay Area musicians. Complementing this body of work will be a selection of collages from the Social Fabric series — abstract compositions pieced together from carpets of unique material, method and origin.
Generous support for New Work: Nevin Aladağ is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, SFMOMA’s Contemporaries, Adriane Iann and Christian Stolz, and Robin Wright and Ian Reeves.
Image: Nevin Aladağ, Resonator, 2018; courtesy the artist and Wentrup Gallery; © Nevin Aladağ
On view January 4–May 10, 2020
Elad Lassry probes and disrupts photographic images and prescribed modes of looking to analyze the relationship between objects and their representations. Using various elements such as wire and stainless steel ball bearings to obscure images, Lassry alters the flatness and framing of his pictures to destabilize how we engage with photography. In this exhibition, Lassry will present three distinct groupings of new work: collaged photographs using sourced archival negatives from sales catalogues and amateur snapshots of nature; outtakes from an imaginary fashion campaign; and container-like structures made from used motorcycle gas tanks. Viewed together in the gallery, these photographs and sculptures will feel familiar yet disorienting. Lassry’s rigorous conceptual strategies generate intentional collisions, highlighting perceptual paradoxes inherent to the photographic medium, while questioning the very meaning of pictures in contemporary culture.
This exhibition will be in the New to the Collection gallery, a space dedicated to showing recently acquired work or new work by an artist.
Generous support for Elad Lassry is provided by Wes and Kate Mitchell.
Image: Elad Lassry, Untitled (Assignment, Purple Buckle Jacket 2), 2019; courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York; © Elad Lassry
April 25–November 1, 2020
Bringing together the work of two interdisciplinary artists, this presentation will center on video projections that each take archival magazine photography as a departure point. Gates’s Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power? (2018) pays homage to the power of women by exploring the idea of the Black Madonna through reworking three decades of images appropriated from the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company archives, including Ebony and Jet magazines. A U.S. premiere, this two-channel installation will interweave scenes of musicians and singers, amplifying a performative approach to cultural legacies.
Smith’s Sojourner (2018) culminates with a feminist reimagining of an unpublished photograph from a 1966 Life assignment. Throughout the work, women performers take banners sewn with texts by jazz musician Alice Coltrane to different sites associated with community organizing and spiritual or artistic visionaries.
Meaningful support for Future Histories: Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith is provided by Wayee Chu and Ethan Beard.
Left: Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power? (still), 2018; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Theaster Gates; photo: courtesy the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles
Right: Cauleen Smith, Sojourner (still), 2018; Kate Werble Gallery; © Cauleen Smith; photo: courtesy the artist, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York