Saturday, December 10, 2016

Art in local Bay Area museums in December

Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico), 1976. “Mendieta formed a silueta on the beach at La Ventosa, Mexico, filling it with red tempera that was ultimately washed away by the ocean waves. The artist documented the obliteration of the figure by the tide in a sequence of 35 mm slides.” (35)
The Films of Anna Mendieta at the Berkeley Art Museum:

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents "Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta." During her brief career—just fourteen years, between 1971 and 1985—the Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta (1948–1985) produced a stunning body of work that included performances, drawings, sculptures, installations, and photographs.

Frank Stella at the de Young and Bruce Conner at SFMOMA

"Frank Stella: A Retrospective" is the first comprehensive US exhibition of the artist’s work since 1970. In 1959, at the age of 23, Stella (b. 1936) burst onto the New York art scene as an already mature artist with his now-legendary series of black paintings, which served as a pictorial manifesto of the artist’s assertion that a painting was “a flat surface with paint on it—nothing more.”

The museum visitor could not ask for a great contrast in styles and philosophy than the two retrospectives now up in San Francisco; Frank Stella at the de Young and Bruce Conner at SFMOMA. Stella specializes in bright, bold, non-expressive art, just right for that expensive loft, big corporate office or museum wall. He was crowned "Art King of NY" right out of art school and has consistently remained popular.

Bruce Conner, courtesy SFMOMA

Conner’s prolific career, spanning the mid-1950s to his death in 2008, is now on view in SFMOMA’s mammoth retrospective "It’s All True." Over six decades, he worked in nearly every media available to artists of his generation, purposely defying both market forces and easy categorization. As soon as he gained recognition for a certain style (as was the case with his early assemblages), he had a tendency to abandon that style completely. He even “ended” his own art career by declaring himself dead on two separate occasions.

Legion of Honor: The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of 17th-Century France

Saint Jerome. The Brothers Le Nain. courtesy FAMSF
The Fine Arts Museums present the first major exhibition in the United States devoted to the Le Nain brothers—Antoine (ca. 1598–1648), Louis (ca. 1600–1648), and Mathieu (1607–1677). Unmarried and childless, the brothers lived and worked together.

If you've never heard of the 17th-century French painters the Brothers Le Nain, you're not alone. The lack of familiarity with these old masters could well be a function of the fact that the artists – Antoine, Louis and Mathieu – haven't had a show on American soil in 70 years, or anywhere else since 1979. That absence has been somewhat alleviated by a new exhibition at the Legion of Honor organized by the Fine Arts Museums that, in conjunction with the Louvre and the Kimbell Art Museum, has assembled 40 of the 60 or 70 existing paintings by the siblings, drawn from disparate collections around the world, including two created as altarpieces for Notre Dame Cathedral. The exhibition is supported by serious, not to mention voluminous, scholarship, with a five-lb. catalogue to prove it

Legion of Honor: Through January 29, 2017

The Art of the Ramayana at the Asian

Hanuman (the Monkey King) revealing Rama and Sita in his heart. Courtesy Asian Art Museum
The current show at the Asian Art Museum, “The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe" is an attempt to bring the Ramayana to the Western world and make it as colorful and entertaining as only they can. The exhibit explores Hinduism through the art inspired by the Ramayana, one of the oldest and largest epics in literature and still a viable part of the culture of Southeast Asia and the Hindu diaspora. To follow the exhibit closely is to both marvel at the wealth of art inspired by this epic and its vision of what makes a moral person, wife and king but also a crash course in Hinduism.

The battle, the Ramayana

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