The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents SUPERNOVA: Art of the 1990s from the Logan Collection, from December 13, 2003, through May 23, 2004. This exhibition of more than 80 works drawn from the collection of Vicki and Kent Logan—including painting, sculpture and photography—offers a survey of visual artistic practices of the 1990s, a decade that produced some of the most challenging and exciting contemporary art. Organized by Madeleine Grynsztejn, Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, SUPERNOVA reflects a particularly rich period marked by an unprecedented boom in technology, mass use of the Internet and a new, international perspective in contemporary art.
The exhibition takes its title from Takashi Murakami’s tour de force painting Super Nova, 1999, which depicts “the destruction of an earthly terrain by atomic weapons whose mushroom clouds are rendered in ravishingly colorful detail,” according to catalogue essayist Dan Cameron, an image that also carries an “inescapable reference to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to their legacy within Japanese youth culture today….” The term SUPERNOVA also references the explosion of artistic styles that took place during the 1990s and is captured in all its diversity by the Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan.
As such, SUPERNOVA is one of the first exhibitions to look back on this pivotal decade from the lens of the early 21st century, bringing to light several overarching issues and themes: the fluidity of contemporary identity (Yasumasa Morimura’s Monna Lisa images, Zhang Huan’s Foam photographs); the vulnerability of the human body (Ron Mueck’s Untitled [Man Under Cardigan], Kiki Smith’s Virgin Mary) the legacy of Pop art (Michel Majerus’s SP 2, Vik Muniz’s Last Supper); the merging of painting with media technologies (Franz Ackermann’s B1 [Barbeque with the Duke], Sarah Morris’ National Geographic [Capital]); text as image (Tracey Emin’s Fantastic to Feel Beautiful Again, Glenn Ligon’s White #13) the play of art history (John Currin’s Laughing Nude, Jeff Wall’s The Arrest); the merging of photography and film (Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled [Teenage Pile], Sam Taylor-Wood’s Wrecked); and the intertwining of object-based art with performance (Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather, Zhang Huan’s To Add One Meter to an Unknown Mountain).
The exhibition also features five key artists whose work the Logans have collected in depth: Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Damien Hirst and Murakami. Among the works of German sculptor Fritsch are life-size sculptures of “bad men,” stereotypical characters in the form of a monk, an art dealer and a doctor. Gober’s sculptures encompass realistic depictions of a disembodied leg, and objects that have their sources in plumbing fixtures such as urinals or a drain. Among the works of Gonzalez-Torres, who died in 1995, are photographic jigsaw puzzles reproducing fragments of love letters written between him and his long-term partner. A painting incorporating actual butterflies by Hirst, founding member of the “Young British Artists” movement that emerged in London in the early 1990s, can be seen along with Philip (The Twelve Disciples), a bull’s head in formaldehyde that is a contemporary vanitas, or meditation on life and death. Murakami uses Japanese pop culture, specifically comics and animation, as points of departure for his work.
Based in Vail, Colorado, Vicki and Kent Logan began collecting in 1993 and are among the nation’s most active collectors of contemporary art. In 2002 the Logans built a large gallery space in Vail to house their collection, which currently numbers over 800 pieces. In 1997 the Logans donated 250 works of art from their collection to SFMOMA, a gift that has grown by over 100 works since then. SUPERNOVA, the largest show in an ongoing series of exhibitions devoted to their collection, is comprised of selections from this seminal gift along with works acquired by the Logans since 1997. An accompanying 184-page illustrated catalogue with essays by Grynsztejn, Dan Cameron, Amada Cruz, Jessica Morgan, Ralph Rugoff and Katy Siegel, and entries by SFMOMA curatorial associates Clara Kim and Tara McDowell, is available for $50 in the MuseumStore.