In anticipation of the SFMOMA Rooftop Garden opening next spring, Shirley Ross Davis has given the work Untitled (1983–87), by New York-based artist Joel Shapiro (American, born 1941), to the museum. The first piece by the artist to enter the collection, Untitled is a cast bronze sculpture created from cut blocks of wood. Shapiro’s dynamic constructions allude to human figures in motion, but do not actually depict them. Like most of Shapiro’s important works, this piece engages the viewer through thrusting rectangular forms, as well as its juxtaposition of smooth and wood-grained surfaces.
SFMOMA also announces the promised gift of The Lens of Rotterdam by Mario Merz (Italian, 1925–2003), from the Dodie and John Rosekrans Runnymede Collection. With this work, Merz adopted his archetypal form, the igloo. Great slabs of rock radiate from the center of the piece to form the base of the dome, a glass and metal edifice held together by clamps. Like the very best of Merz’s sculptures, the piece is rich in materials and metaphor, alluding to inside and outside, pre- and post-industrial society, and nomadic shelter and social space, making it a perfect addition to the Rooftop Garden. The sculpture also joins SFMOMA’s concentration of Arte Povera works, most notably pieces by Luciano Fabro and Giovanni Anselmo. The Lens of Rotterdam will be the first piece by Merz to enter the SFMOMA collection.
SFMOMA’s Rooftop Garden is scheduled to open in spring 2009, as one of many special events leading up to the museum’s 75th anniversary in 2010. A crowning enhancement to one of San Francisco’s greatest cultural treasures, the Rooftop Garden will benefit the city by creating a new place of public interaction, a peaceful respite from surrounding urban bustle, and a fundamentally new way for visitors to experience the museum’s ever-expanding art collection.
Some 14,400 square feet will offer ample space for showcasing new acquisitions slated specifically for the garden. It will also invite visitors to discover rarely seen works in the museum’s present holdings, including modern sculptures such as Alexander Calder’s Big Crinkly (1969) and works by Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore, as well as contemporary works, including Stele I (1973) by Ellsworth Kelly; Zim Zum I (1969) by Barnett Newman; Untitled (Wheels and Suspended Double Pyramid 3B) (1978) by Bruce Nauman; and Ferro (1978–82) by Mark di Suvero.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Rooftop Garden is made possible through the generous support of the following leadership gifts: the Mimi & Peter Haas Fund, Barbara and Gerson Bakar, the Jean and James Douglas Family, Patricia and William Wilson III, and Carolyn and Preston Butcher.