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 20, 2017

Special Exhibitions


Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules

On view November 18, 2017–March 25, 2018
Floor 4

From the 1940s until his passing in 2008, Rauschenberg worked with everything from photography to items scavenged from New York City streets to vats of bubbling mud. More than 150 of Rauschenberg’s artworks, including prints, sculptures, paintings and Combines (works that incorporate painting and sculpture), will be on view in the retrospective Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, celebrating the artist’s continual experimentation with materials and collaborative working processes. The exhibition demonstrates how, with razor-sharp humor and intelligence, Rauschenberg broke down boundaries between disciplines, anticipated many of the defining cultural and social issues of our time and redefined what art could be for the generations of artists who followed.

Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules is organized by Tate Modern, London, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The San Francisco presentation is dedicated to the memory of Phyllis C. Wattis, whose vision and support provided the groundwork for the exhibition. The Global Tour Sponsor is Bank of America. Major support is provided by Carol and Lyman Casey, Doris Fisher, The Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, SFMOMA Collectors’ Forum, the Paul L. Wattis Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Traveling Exhibitions, and Carlie Wilmans. Generous support is provided by Aurelia and Cadmus Balkanski, Penny S. and James G. Coulter, Roberta and Steve Denning, the Mary Jo and Dick Kovacevich Family, Christine and Pierre Lamond, Deborah and Kenneth Novack, the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund, the Prospect Creek Foundation, Helen and Charles Schwab, and Thomas W. Weisel and Janet Barnes. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Select programs in conjunction with Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules are made possible through a grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Image: Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1964; oil and silkscreen ink on canvas; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, gift of Susan Morse Hilles; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation


René Magritte: The Fifth Season

On view May 19–October 28, 2018
Floor 4

This exhibition presents René Magritte’s late paintings (1943–67) in nine tightly focused, immersive galleries, each keyed to a major series or pictorial theme. René Magritte: The Fifth Season opens with the artist questioning the modernism of his youth, experimenting with elements of Impressionism, Fauvism and Expressionism, and follows Magritte’s developing strategies for illuminating the ways that paintings both create and expose tensions between appearance and reality.

Generous support for René Magritte: The Fifth Season is provided by Jean and James E. Douglas, Jr.

Image: René Magritte, Les valeurs personnelles (Personal Values), 1952; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Katherine Du Tiel


Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory

On view December 2018–March 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 approximately 140 works including 60 paintings, 70 drawings in graphite and charcoal and 10 sculptures, as well as new work created for the exhibition. SFMOMA will present the global debut of this retrospective, the first in North America in more than 25 years.

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


Temporary Exhibitions


Designed in California

On view January 27–May 27, 2018
Floor 6

Exploring the shifting landscape of design in California since the digital revolution, this exhibition focuses on designs that are human-centered, socially conscious and driven by new technological capacity. Retreating from the commercialism of Modernism’s “good design for all,” California designers in the 1960s and 70s sought to design with more political, social and environmental awareness, as seen in the multimedia presentations of Ray and Charles Eames and AntFarm, and in the pages of the Whole Earth Catalog. A shared desire to empower the individual led to designs for “dropping out,” such as North Face’s tents and Chouinard’s climbing equipment, as well as the creation of new tools for connected living — from the first Apple desktop computer to now ubiquitous mobile devices.

Designed in California is supported by the Elaine McKeon Endowed Exhibition Fund and the Diane and Howard Zack Fund for Architecture and Design. Additional support is provided by the Sanger Family Architecture and Design Exhibition Fund.

Image: Charles and Ray Eames, Eames Office conference room, 1944–89; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Forum Fund and Accessions Committee Fund purchase; photo: Tom Bonner


John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea

On view March 3–September 16, 2018
Floor 7

This exhibition is the U.S. premiere of artist John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea (2015), a three-channel video installation comprised of fictional narrative, natural history documentary and film essay. On view in the Media Arts special exhibition gallery, this cinematic work, which debuted in 2015 at the Venice Biennale, presents a voyage of discovery, an exploration of water and the unconscious, and poignant reflections on mortality. Vertigo Sea takes the viewer on an immersive aural and visual odyssey, encompassing the greed and cruelty of the whaling industry, the transatlantic slave trade and the current refugee crisis in a three-screen projection. Akomfrah’s intricately woven triptych positions this crisis in a longer historic perspective of race and migration.

Image: John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015; three channel HD color video installation, 7.1 sound 48 minutes 30 seconds; © Smoking Dogs Films; courtesy Lisson Gallery


The Train: RFKs Last Journey

On view March 17–June 10, 2018
Floor 3

On June 8, 1968, three days after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, his body was carried by a funeral train from New York City to Washington, D.C., for burial at Arlington Cemetery. The Train looks at this historical event through three distinct works. The first is a group of color photographs by commissioned photographer Paul Fusco. Taken from the funeral train, the images capture mourners who lined the railway tracks to pay their final respects. Looking from the opposite perspective, the second work features photographs and home movies by the spectators themselves, collected by Dutch artist Rein Jelle Terpstra in his project The People’s View (2014–18). The third, a work by French artist Philippe Parreno, is a 70mm film reenactment of the funeral train’s journey, inspired by Fusco’s original photographs. Bringing historical and contemporary works together in dialogue, this powerful, multidisciplinary exhibition sheds new light on this pivotal moment in American history.

Generous support for The Train: RFK’s Last Journey is provided by Nion McEvoy and Wes and Kate Mitchell. Additional support provided by Lynn Kirshbaum and Kathleen and Robert Matschullat.

Image: Paul Fusco, Untitled, from the series RFK Funeral Train, 1968, printed 2008; © Magnum Photos, courtesy Danziger Gallery


Selves and Others: Gifts to the Collection from Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein

On view March 24–September 23, 2018
Floor 3

The most compelling photographic portraits reveal more than simply a sitter’s physical appearance — they hint at an individual’s character, suggest a psychological state or perhaps even offer a glimpse of the sitter’s soul. Drawn from the many generous gifts Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein have donated to SFMOMA’s collection since the late 1990s, this exhibition features portraits of the self; of personas or avatars; of family members, lovers and friends; and of strangers. Made from the 19th century to the present and organized thematically, the works in the exhibition were created by artists including Julia Margaret Cameron, Rineke Dijkstra, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman and Gillian Wearing, among many others.

Image: Cindy Sherman, Untitled #399, 2000; chromogenic print; fractional and promised gift of Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Cindy Sherman, courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures


Susan Meiselas: Mediations

On view July–October 2018
Floor 3

This retrospective devoted to the American photographer Susan Meiselas brings together work from the beginning of her career in the 1970s to the present day. A member of Magnum Photos since 1976, Meiselas’ work raises questions about documentary practice. She became known through her photographs from conflict zones in Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly strong color photographs of the Nicaraguan Revolution. Covering a wide range of subjects, from war and human rights issues to cultural identity and the sex industry, Meiselas uses photography, film, video and archival material in her practice. The artist often works with the people she photographs over long periods of time, and integrates the voices of her subjects into her works and publications. Organized by the Jeu de Paume (Paris) and the Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona), Susan Meiselas: Mediations highlights her unique approach to different scales of time and conflict, ranging from the personal to the geopolitical. SFMOMA’s exhibition — the exclusive U.S. presentation of the retrospective — also includes 20 dirhams or 1 photo? (2013), an installation from the museum’s collection about the women working in Marrakech’s spice market.

Image: Susan Meiselas, Traditional Indian dance mask from the town of Monimbo, used by the rebels during the fight against Somoza to conceal identity. Nicaragua, 1978; courtesy Susan Meiselas / Magnum Photos


Donald Judd / Specific Furniture

On view July–November 2018
Floor 6

This exhibition examines Donald Judd’s furniture design as its own practice, independent from his artworks and motivated by entirely different criteria. While formally resonant with Judd’s sculpture, the furniture work — distilled pieces originating from an idealized utilitarian form — emerged out of a desire for functional specificity, developed pragmatically in response to what Judd saw as an absence of good, available and affordable furniture. Beyond his roles as artist, designer and critic, Judd was also a passionate collector inspired by the iconic furniture designs of Alvar Alto, Gerrit Rietveld, Mies Van Der Rohe and Rudolf Schindler, among others. This presentation brings together Judd’s furniture with examples by others that he revered and owned himself, as well as newly fabricated Judd pieces that visitors may experience as they were intended.

Image: Donald Judd, Copper armchair, 1984; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Byron R. Meyer; photo: Katherine Du Tiel


Single-Gallery Presentations