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.
Updated: October 4, 2019
On view October 26, 2019–February 17, 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.
Major support for SOFT POWER is provided by Shawn and Brook Byers, the Ford Foundation, Diana Nelson and John Atwater, Katie and Matt Paige, and Helen and Charles Schwab. Generous support is provided by Sabrina Buell and Yves Béhar, Sean Leffers and Tom Buttgenbach, Sir Deryck and Lady Va Maughan, and Aey Phanachet and Roger Evans. Meaningful support is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Fundación Botín, Dolly and George Chammas, Wayee Chu and Ethan Beard, Oya and Bulent Eczacibasi, and the Friends of Contemporary Art at SFMOMA.
Image: Tanya Lukin Linklater with Liz Lott, The treaty is in the body, 2017; courtesy the artist and Winnipeg Art Gallery; © Tanya Lukin Linklater
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, from The Birmingham Project, 2012; © Dawoud Bey; photo: courtesy SFMOMA
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–Fall 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 Montréal, 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 Debra 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.
Generous support for Tauba Auerbach—S v Z 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. Additional 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 2020–January 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, 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 Mary Robinson. 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 October 2019–February 2020
Richard Mosse’s three-screen digital projection Incoming (2017) charts the current refugee crisis in Europe. Epic in scope and by turns lyrical and vivid, harrowing and violent, the video installation tracks two major flows of migrants from war-torn regions of Africa and the Middle East to emergency shelters in France and Germany. Utilizing military-grade camera technology, the otherworldly footage evokes the sense that viewers are watching the action covertly as if through night-vision goggles. This presentation will be the West Coast premiere of the 52-minute immersive work, and will also be accompanied by a selection of related photographs of refugee camps.
Support for Richard Mosse: Incoming is provided by Meyer Sound.
Image: Richard Mosse, Incoming, 2017 (installation view); Kramlich Collection; NGV Triennial, National Gallery of Victoria, Southbank, Australia; © Richard Mosse; photo: courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
On view November 16, 2019–April 12, 2020
The SECA Art Award, established in 1967 by SFMOMA’s Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art, has recognized more than 70 Bay Area artists with an exhibition and accompanying publication. The 2019 SECA Art Award exhibition will feature three Bay Area artists, each with a dedicated gallery: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Sahar Khoury and Marlon Mullen. Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s interdisciplinary practice explores “the historical present,” her term for the persistent residue of history in contemporary life. Sahar Khoury transforms discarded materials into sculptures animated by freewheeling experimentation and personal narrative. Marlon Mullen takes magazine covers as his primary source imagery, translating them into vividly painted abstractions.
illy is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2019 SECA Art Award: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Sahar Khoury, Marlon Mullen. Generous support is provided by SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art), an SFMOMA art experience group.
Image: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, The Uprising, 2016; courtesy the artist; © Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle
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.
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 disrupts 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, Lavender 3), 2019; courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York; © Elad Lassry