Thursday, May 19, 2011


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a museum known by many to hold some of the greatest contemporary art in the city. It itself is an architectural masterpiece, letting all those who pass by know that it is not just an average building. As soon as you step inside, the splendor of the building does not ware off, for the high ceiling creates an environment of openness and magnificence.

First off, we decided to visit the Koret Visitor Education Center on the second floor, where we were bombarded with books about modern art and the museum itself. We browsed through the books and were delighted with what we saw, so we decided to just head out into the museum and look around for ourselves.

We decided to stay on the second floor, which contained an exhibit of (obviously) various works from the 19th and 20th centuries. We found many pieces of artwork in which we absolutely would love to have in our homes, but hardly any of them would fit in our budget, for both the conservative budget and the larger budget. Here are some of the works of art in which we adored, but don't think we would be able to have as our own.
Arshile Gorky- Enigmatic Combat (1936-1937)
Mark Rothko- No. 14 1960 (1960)

Franz Marc- Gebirge (1911-1912)

Josef Albers- Homage to the Square: Confident (1954)
Roy Lichtenstein- Mirror #2 (1970)

Andy Warhol- Self-Portrait (1967)

Then, there were many more pieces of artwork that we would love to have in our home and decided that we would spend the extra money in our budget to own them. Most of these works are either more modern or made by local Bay Area artists, which we enjoyed very much.

Joan Brown- Noel in the Kitchen (1964)
Joan Brown, a Bay Area Figurative artist commonly paints works of art that are more personal than those of other artists within her genre. "Noel in the Kitchen" is a painting that depicts her son in her home and studio on Saturn Street, close to Twin Peaks in San Francisco. This painting combines vivid colors with rich textures in order to create a piece of art that is both rhythmic and chaotic at the same time. We would definitely buy this work of art for our home, for although it not as abstract as the others, it still contains some mystery to it. Though the dogs, child and kitchen furniture are all easily decipherable by the viewer, they still have some abstraction to them. In addition, the background of the kitchen and floor are not painted in a realistic way, for they both turn into blobs of different, and seemingly contrasting colors and textures. This painting is definitely one that we would have in our home with a larger budget.

Robert Rauschenberg- Collection (1954)
 This painting is incredibly unique, for it is made not only with oil paints and a paintbrush but also with newspaper, paper, fabric, wood and metal. Rauschenberg once claimed that "a pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil and fabric." In a similar manner as Pollock, Rauschenberg created his paintings with everything he could find, and used a collection of items to create his work (his painting is extremely appropriately named) and ended up with an eclectic masterpiece that somehow works out perfectly in the end. The art is both appealing to the eye for it is extremely intricate and very detailed, and yet it is simple enough to not pain the eye when looked at.

Anna Parkina- Common Field (2011)

Clyfford Still- Untitled (1960) 
Mary Heilmann- Fire and Ice Remix (2006)
 This oil on canvas is very interesting, for although made of two square canvases, it is much more interesting for the viewer to look at than just that. The artist is able to create almost an illusion for the eye in order to keep the viewer interested, as well as pleased. We also love how although the work appears so simple at first, it is more detailed than you may notice. The red has various different shades to it, as does the white.
Joan Mitchell- Untitled (1960)

Amy Silman- U.S. of Alice the Goon (2008)
Tacita Dean- Beauty (2006)

Richard Diebenkorn- Berkeley #57 (1955)

Overall, I am critical of the Museum as a venue for modern art. For viewers who don't have knowledge of Art History, an impersonal museum viewing of modern art can be overwhelming. Because modern art is so vague in its shapes, designs (or lack of design), and colors, modern art needs more explaining. A venue like a street fair or artist open studio is much more conducive to viewers understanding and enjoying modern art because there is an artist who can explain their work and it seems more personal, which is especially necessary for viewers of modern art. 

Also as a fantasy art collector, visiting SFMOMA was frustrating because if we found a piece of work that we would purchase for our home, most likely it was unreasonably priced. But why? Is the art selected to hang in a formal setting such a SFMOMA really better quality modern art than modern art you might find at a street festival? Visiting SFMOMA may be an aesthetically nice way to spend a free afternoon, but in terms of purchasing art, it is not my first choice.

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