Jointly organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Matisse from SFMOMA brings together the work of Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) from both institutions’ collections for a nearly yearlong presentation at the Legion of Honor. The single-gallery exhibition features 23 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from SFMOMA’s internationally acclaimed Matisse collection, alongside four important paintings and drawings from the Fine Arts Museums’ holdings, and two works from private local collections. On view from November 9, 2013 through September 7, 2014, Matisse from SFMOMA traces four decades of Matisse’s career, celebrating the Bay Area’s early and long-standing enthusiasm for the artist.
“It is a true pleasure to offer the collaborative efforts of our two institutions to our community,” declared Colin B. Bailey, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco director. “San Francisco is fortunate to be home to impressive collections of Matisse’s work, and we are pleased to present the works together for the first time at the Legion of Honor, which is known for its outstanding holdings of European art.”
“We are delighted to present these masterworks from our collection in such a stunning setting at the Fine Arts Museums,” said Neal Benezra, SFMOMA director. “Particularly exciting is the rare opportunity to view these Matisse works—so beloved by the public—in a fresh, new light.”
Matisse from SFMOMA is part of SFMOMA’s extensive off-site programming while its building is temporarily closed for expansion construction. Through early 2016, SFMOMA is on the go, presenting a dynamic slate of jointly organized and traveling exhibitions, public art displays and site-specific installations, and newly created education programs throughout the Bay Area.
Matisse from SFMOMA Overview
Matisse’s expressive canvases were first introduced to San Francisco shortly after the 1906 earthquake, shocking the arts community with their startling colors and brushwork. Since then, the Bay Area has maintained a fervent connection to the artist’s work, resulting in SFMOMA’s rich collection, which showcases pieces from Matisse’s early career, and continues through the 1930s.
Matisse from SFMOMA includes important examples from the artist’s Fauve period, along with other significant paintings, drawings, and bronzes. Iconic works such as Sketch from “The Joy of Life” (1905‒1906), The Girl with Green Eyes (1908), and portraits of the artist’s early patrons Michael and Sarah Stein (1916) are featured along with major sculptural studies that include Madeleine, I (1901), The Serf (1900–1903), and Large Head: Henriette II (1927). Also on view are pre-Fauve still lifes and landscapes, as well as The Conversation (1938), a later decorative interior. Selections from the Fine Arts Museums’ collection include the vibrant and patterned Young Woman in Pink (1923) and an early nude painted in the academic manner Faith, the Model (ca. 1901), the latter of which was formerly owned by the Steins and displayed in their Paris apartment, as were many of the works in SFMOMA’s holdings.
SFMOMA’s Calder Sculpture in New Setting
Furthering the collaboration between these two key Bay Area arts institutions, Alexander Calder’s lively kinetic sculpture Big Crinkly (1969) from SFMOMA’s collection is on view in the de Young’s Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden.
Alexander Calder’s spirited Big Crinkly sculpture is featured against the verdant backdrop of the de Young’s outdoor sculpture garden. Animals and popular entertainers were among Calder’s favorite motifs throughout his career, and in Big Crinkly, the artist evokes both the abstract form of a large performing beast—neck stretched upright and body balanced on three circular feet—and a strongman holding up a barbell. Calder attended high school in the Bay Area, and his father was a commissioner for San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915—making the installation of Big Crinkly all the more fitting at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. See the installation of Big Crinkly in the de Young sculpture garden here.
Matisse: Not Just a Wild Beast
Thursday, November 7, 10 am, Legion of Honor
Julie Charles, associate curator of education, SFMOMA
Matisse in San Francisco
Sunday, December 1, 2 pm, Legion of Honor
Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture, SFMOMA
The exhibition is organized by Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture, SFMOMA, and Melissa Buron, assistant curator of European painting, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, with assistance from Jared Ledesma, curatorial assistant, SFMOMA.
Matisse from SFMOMA is jointly organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Major support is generously provided by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 40-page, illustrated catalogue, Matisse and San Francisco, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and available in November 2013.
About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.
The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and became the Memorial Museum. Thirty years later, it was renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, a longtime champion of the museum. The present copper-clad, landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It showcases the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international contemporary art.
The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915, which was a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris. The museum opened in 1924 in the Beaux Arts–style building designed by George Applegarth, on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its holdings span 4,000 years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.
About the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Founded as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project that will significantly enhance its gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase its expanded permanent collection and serve its growing audiences. During the construction of its new building from the summer of 2013 to early 2016, the museum is moving beyond its walls and into the community with an extensive array of off-site programming throughout the city and region. For more information about SFMOMA and its expansion project, visit sfmoma.org.