Artist Interviews

SFMOMA is committed to partnering with the most forward-thinking artists of our time and bringing their visions to life. Here, in their own words, many of these artists share their creative process and their stories.
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The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism
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Vija Celmins: Saying the Unsayable
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Vija Celmins on her life in (and out of) the studio
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Etel Adnan on art and urgency
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Etel Adnan on lightning-strike paintings and words as gestures
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Kerry Tribe on empathy in health care
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O Grivo’s sculptural orchestra
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Bea Nettles’s photographic tarot deck
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Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules
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Isamu Noguchi: There’s no such thing as time
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Judy Chicago: The Female Aesthetic
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Sean McFarland’s metaphysical way of looking
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How ORFN’s graffiti inspires Alicia McCarthy
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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s biometric portraiture
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Alicia McCarthy: Visually listening to bands of colors
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Lindsey White: How humor threatens us
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Liam Everett: The art of obstruction
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Christina Kubisch: Discovering new sounds
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Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon: The slipperiness of sound
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Richard T. Walker on landscape and desire
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Sean McFarland: Landscape photography as failed record
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Larry Sultan discovers his family through photography
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Journey through the soundscape of a boiler room with Bill Fontana
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Bill Fontana: The makings of a sound sculptor
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Anselm Kiefer: “My paintings change”
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Robert Frank as a young artist
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Will Rogan's Mediums channel artists lost to time
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Tomás Saraceno: Building “future flying cities” with spiders
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Anselm Kiefer: History is a clay
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William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time
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Marco Breuer: Pushing the boundaries of photography
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Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s Janded: Between two cultures
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Kikuji Kawada on the Atomic Bomb Dome and postwar Japan
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Keizo Kitajima in the former USSR
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Asako Narahashi’s photos from the sea
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Jürg Lehni’s extraordinary drawing machine
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Robert Frank on photographing The Americans
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Robert Adams: Photographing a “landscape of mistakes”
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Jananne Al-Ani on the Middle Eastern landscape
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Robert Adams's sobering photographs of clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest
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How Mike Mandel created new meaning from old photographs
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Mike Mandel’s Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards
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Michael Jang’s family snapshots
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Catherine Opie’s groundbreaking queer portraiture
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Janet Delaney on South of Market
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Janet Delaney on hand-painted signs
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Judith Joy Ross: Protest the War
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An-My Lê: Landscapes of war
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Rabih Mroué on “the war against the image”
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Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More: Piggybacking assignments
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Rosana Castrillo Diaz on finding meaning in the everyday
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Football and perception: Matthew Barney on the field emblem
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Pipilotti Rist’s fairy tale about a destructive goddess 
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“Hold these people in your hand”: Deborah Luster’s photographs of prisoners
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Michael Jang: The night the Sex Pistols broke up
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How Michael Jang photographed the most glamorous celebrities of 1970s Beverly Hills
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John Divola: “Time is a verb”
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John Divola: Photographing abandoned houses
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Fred Wilson’s museum interventions
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Jon Rubin’s Pictures Collected From Museum Visitors’ Wallets
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Richard Deacon on being a “fabricator”
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On target: Jasper Johns on creating his target paintings
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Because he says so: Jasper Johns is not a Dadaist
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Richard Tuttle treats words as art
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Why was Richard Tuttle’s 1975 exhibition so controversial?
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Pipilotti Rist’s “instant diamonds”
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Frank Stella describes “art worth making”
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How Zen poems influenced Brice Marden’s paintings
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Kara Walker depicts violence and sadness that can't be seen
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Amy Franceschini reimagines World War II–era community gardens for San Francisco
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Anselm Kiefer: We use mythology to give life meaning
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Henry Wessel: The view from the driver’s seat
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Henry Wessel: Why it’s better to see without recognizing
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Richard Diebenkorn: “The sky took the place of the ocean”
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Robert Rauschenberg pays tribute to John Cage
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William Kentridge: transformation with animation
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William Kentridge and his animated alter egos
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Completely out of whack: Kerry James Marshall on his murals for SFMOMA
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Kerry James Marshall wants to see black people in art, all the time
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Olafur Eliasson wants you to slow down and take your time
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Matthew Barney on ambergris, a.k.a. whale waste
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Matthew Barney on using plastics and petroleum jelly
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Jay DeFeo’s The Rose: The enormous painting that was “almost alive”
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Richard Misrach: Graffiti in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
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Jim Goldberg: Why do we keep making the same mistakes?
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Stephanie Syjuco on the economy of art
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Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More: Web-based assignments designed to get people to leave their computers
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From cross-stitch to cake with Gay Outlaw
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Hung Liu: There’s dignity in a woman handling a machine
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David Best is a burning man
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William Allan brings books back to life
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Jordan Kantor on the act of looking and looking again
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Richard Serra throws molten lead inside SFMOMA
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Graffiti is a sport, and Barry McGee a sportsman
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Will Rogan: “We are on this planet that’s spinning around the sun and it’s totally insane”
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Adrian Ghenie: Painting a dictator in the moment before his execution
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Adrian Ghenie: Attending art school in Communist Romania
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Yto Barrada on laziness as resistance
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Tuan Andrew Nguyen: Using graffiti and breakdancing to rebrand a country
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Tuan Andrew Nguyen: Straddling two cultures and building a platform for art
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Óscar Muñoz explores memory through ephemeral materials
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Óscar Muñoz created an art space that thrives on uncertainty
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Trevor Paglen on the secret history of early Yosemite photography
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Pablo López Luz on shooting the landscape of Mexico City
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Alejandro Cartagena on photographing while walking through dry riverbeds
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Akram Zaatari: Collecting images from the Arab world
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Stephanie Syjuco creates knockoffs of works of art
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The legendary Wayne E & Wayne R show
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Jim Campbell: Transmitted in light
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Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More: Before web 2.0
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Kamau Amu Patton and the machine that’s always learning
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How Daniela Rossell’s photographs came to be viewed as images of Mexico’s “poster girls of corruption”
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Daniela Rossell questions “female territories”
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Akram Zaatari describes Hashem el Madani’s “photography of the working class”
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Trevor Paglen photographs classified “black sites”
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Adrian Ghenie started a gallery because he was a “failure”
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Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More: Instant acceptance
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Naoya Hatakeyama on what’s awe-some
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From Revlon to Robert Smithson: Mary Heilmann finds inspiration everywhere
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Gu Wenda on the artist as peacemaker
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Mark di Suvero likes to work with his hands
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How Gu Wenda turns hair and glue into works of art
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Gates of steel: Mark di Suvero and his path to welding
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Tiffany Chung: Maps are about people
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Photographer David Goldblatt exposes humanity in former criminals
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The photographs of South African nightclub bouncer Billy Monk
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In Boksburg, David Goldblatt photographs the reality of apartheid
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Let’s talk about sex: AA Bronson pushes critics to consider queer culture
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Lynn Hershman Leeson’s seductive chat bot
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Bow and arrow to the heart: Mark di Suvero’s love for the Golden Gate
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Glenn Ligon on “the idea of a black man”
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Kerry James Marshall goes grisaille
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Judy Chicago prepares for a dinner party with female heroes
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Lindy Roy’s liquid inspiration for Poolhouse
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Gary Hill: Your actions reflect yourself
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Doris Salcedo: Memory as the essence of work
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Why Pipilotti Rist works with video
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Ed Ruscha on combining painting and photography
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Ed Ruscha: Drawing with gunpowder
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Ed Ruscha: Painting words
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Pipilotti Rist: Our hearts are “rinsed” every second
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Ed Ruscha’s big-city visions
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Gary Hill doesn’t miss a beat
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Doris Salcedo: "Extreme experiences as a point of departure"
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Painting versus photography: Jeff Wall compares and contrasts
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Richard Tuttle: Pushing the limits of art
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Richard Tuttle: Art is an adventure
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Gary Hill gets down to the neurons
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Robert Bechtle: The camera is a sketchbook
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Robert Bechtle: Paintings are not as ephemeral as photographs
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Jeff Wall advocates for staged photography
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Romance novels and slave narratives: Kara Walker imagines herself in a book
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Robert Bechtle gets (photo)real
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Kara Walker on the dark side of imagination
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Kara Walker explains her interest in “demoted” art forms
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When “everything was perfect”: An introduction to Richard Tuttle
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Jeff Wall: “I begin by not photographing”
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How Richard Serra influenced Matthew Barney
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What does a solid-gray painting have to do with Bob Dylan? Brice Marden explains
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Olafur Eliasson: Everyone sees a different rainbow
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Brice Marden on finding inspiration in olive groves
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Brice Marden: How to look at paintings
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Ann Hamilton evokes the working class with the color blue
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Matthew Barney and ancient Japanese whaling traditions
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Matthew Barney puts his body into his work
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Deborah Luster: Helping prisoners show themselves to the world
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Why Deborah Luster decided to photograph prisoners
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“The people who stole the prisoners”: Deborah Luster’s accidental performance work
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Anselm Kiefer: An artist is “outside of the world”
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Henry Wessel: Photographing while “half asleep”
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Ann Hamilton gives voice to Charleston’s invisible history
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“Un-reading”: Ann Hamilton erases texts to make room for other stories
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Teresita Fernández harnesses the behavior of fire
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Premature mortality: William Kentridge reflects on the AIDS epidemic in South Africa
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Kerry James Marshall: Requiem for a decade
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Kerry James Marshall: Art is a series of visual problems that need to be solved
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In the studio with Olafur Eliasson
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Experimenting in the lab with Olafur Eliasson
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Frank Stella: Rebuilding painting
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Olafur Eliasson’s machine: A phenomenon maker
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Beach life: William Kentridge and Tide Table
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Form, growth, behavior: The making of Andrew Kudless’s “bulbous” sculpture
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Frank Stella and the art of the protractor
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Daniel Schwartz: “My university is the road”
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Traveling “through the eye of history” with photographer Daniel Schwartz
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Jim Goldberg’s compassionate lens
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Richard Serra answers: Why make art?
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Advice from Richard Serra: Clear away the clutter and do your own thing
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How do you take notes? Richard Serra draws his thoughts
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Klara Kristalova on the darker side of childhood
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Talking trash, over Skype, with Tiago Carneiro da Cunha
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A large and flickering grid of light by Jim Campbell
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Have you seen my bird? Rigo 23’s “found lost bird” posters
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Mapping nine centuries of a Romanian city with Tiffany Chung
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The story of Ernest Cole, a black photographer in South Africa during apartheid
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The Futurefarmers stand on one leg, together
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Yto Barrada on how the Strait of Gibraltar shapes life in Tangier
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Lamia Joreige maps Beirut’s tumultuous past and future
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The Futurefarmers on picnics and Powers of Ten
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AA Bronson and his fictional museum Cornucopia
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Helène Aylon “midwifes” an image
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David Smith and the search for “accidental beauty”
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Lamia Joreige on disappearance and memories of war
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Where did all the art go? Jonn Herschend and stories of the SFMOMA evacuation
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Kateřina Šedá holds the Los Altos World Records
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Spencer Finch takes viewers from technicolor to black and white
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Jeremy Blake: A waking dream
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Jonn Herschend on finding beauty behind the scenes
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Alec Soth photographs loneliness in Silicon Valley
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Soul food for the brain: Chris Johanson and public sculpture
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Zarouhie Abdalian makes social sound in downtown Oakland
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Fake snacks and jack-o’-lanterns: Josh Faught takes us to the Neptune Society Columbarium
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Mike Mills finds the past in the present, interviewing the “futurists” of Los Altos
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Charles R. Garoian: The teacher who was called to the principal’s office
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Christian Jankowski needs subtitles for Silicon Valley Talksa
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Open your eyes! Rediscover San Francisco with David Wilson’s Arrivals
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Jessica Stockholder creates an intersection with the intersection
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Mel Bochner transforms a wall with chalk
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Sophie Calle on becoming an artist
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Ewan Gibbs on his San Francisco drawings
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John Baldessari explains his “strange mind”
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John Baldessari on fighting the “photography” label
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Sophie Calle’s voyeuristic portraits of hotel rooms
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Markus Schinwald’s strange prostheses and erotic table legs
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Susan Meiselas on “the ethics of seeing”
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Abelardo Morell and the magic of the camera obscura
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Alison Rossiter gives new life to old photographic paper
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Peter Campus on his most famous work and why he hates it
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Barbara Bosworth looks slowly and observes the landscape
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Peter Campus says, “You can’t see yourself”
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Liz Deschenes on her camera-less photography
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Richard Learoyd takes us inside his giant homemade camera
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Brice Marden: What painting is all about
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Brice Marden: Abstract painting can take you to paradise
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Njideka Akunyili Crosby on painting cultural collision
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Doug Hall on his utopian generation
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Mildred Howard’s houses hold memories
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Doug Hall’s giant Tesla coil
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Ant Farm on becoming “underground architects”
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The message is for the media: Ant Farm and Media Burn
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Stephen Shore ditched school for Warhol’s Factory
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Stephen Shore: Taking photographs that “feel like seeing”