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The Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art at the de Young

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in June 2018 The de Young is presenting a large-scale, traveling survey of Precisionism, the first modern art movement to come out of the United States. During the early 20th century, Precisionism was born out of industrialization. Originating from Cubism and Futurism, primarily European painting movements, Precisionism…

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Remembering Bruce Bellingham

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in June 2018 “Mind if I use you as a punchline? It won’t hurt.” Bruce Bellingham said that to me more than once in reference to his San Francisco column “Bellingham by the Bay.” He was right. It never hurt. His words were entertaining and acerbic but…

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René Magritte: The Fifth Season comes to SFMOMA

The legendary surrealist painter René Magritte will be the subject of a retrospective of his late work at the SFMOMA. More than 20 artworks will be shown for the first time in a U.S. Museum concentrating on the artist’s sunlit surrealism period.

In the 1940’s, Magritte found himself transitioning from his established style. Part of this transformation was due to the instability in German occupied Belgium as well as his rebellion against the traditional rules of other surrealist painters. The Fifth Season begins in this time period when the artist began what became known as his “sunlit” period which lasted until 1947. These paintings, in harder, duskier tones than his prior work, appeared shocking with references to 19th century masters such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir verses the popular harder edged surrealism of painters like Giorgio de Chirico. The “vache” paintings were a shorter lived series during which Magritte explored colors and aesthetics that bore an affinity to Fauvism and Expressionism.

The exhibit is sorted room by room by theme. The Human Condition, paintings conspicuously about paintings, presents five artworks that exemplify Magritte’s approach to painting as problem solving. In paintings like Where Euclid Walked (1955), Magritte creates scenes where the background merges with the foreground to create astonishing illusions that question our understanding of inside and outside, real and unreal, the natural and artificial. In the 1950’s, Magritte’s Hypertrophy series played with the exaggerated scale of everyday items. Personal Values (1952), a bedroom with cloud-covered walls depicts bedroom furniture that appears diminutive compared to a giant comb and shaving brush eclipsing the rest of the room. The perplexing, even jarring tension and contrast taps into feelings of unease and alienation still felt in postwar Europe.

Some of Magritte’s best known later works are the Bowler-Hatted Men, variations on a recurring motif he painted during the period of 1926 to 1966. The exhibit has numerous examples including The Son of Man (1964) where a green apple impossibly levitates over a man’s face, and The Happy Donor (1966) is a ghostly outline of a night scene in the shape of a man who stands in front of a wall and flattened background.

Another unique attraction in this exhibition is four of the eight rarely-seen canvases from The Enchanted Domain (1953), Magritte’s epic 360-degree panorama and his largest work. This mural measures 236 feet in circumference and was commissioned for a circular room in the Grand Casino in Knokke, Belgium. SFMOMA’s presentation marks the first tine in 40 years that this many painting panels that make up The Enchanted Domain have been seen together in a museum.

The final gallery explores themes of gravity and light in paintings that render gigantic floating boulders and flying birds framing the sky. As an examination of our basic assumptions of perception and existence, René Magritte: The Fifth Season marks the 50th anniversary of Magritte’s death and will be shown exclusively at SFMOMA through October 28, 2018.

Julian Schnabel’s Symbols of Actual Life Comes to San Francisco

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in April 2018 The Legion of Honor brings a rare exhibition to San Francisco by one of the most significant painters of our time.  Julian Schnabel’s first west coast exhibition in thirty years features new large scale paintings that will occupy the Legion of Honor’s open-air courtyard….

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Asian Art Museum Asks Life’s Biggest Questions in Divine Bodies

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in March 2018 The Asian Art Museum’s exhibit Divine Bodies runs through July 29 and features Buddhist and Hindu figurative sculpture from 1500 years ago.  70 large-scale historical sculptures and paintings will be on display including contemporary photo-based work. The deities in human form-goddesses, gods, Buddhas and…

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Miya Ando’s Oborozuki (Moon Obscured by Clouds) at Nancy Toomey Fine Art

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in February 2018 Through February 17th, Miya Ando brings her dreamlike minimalist art to the Nancy Toomey Fine Art gallery located in San Francisco’s Minnesota Street Project. Pieces in the show include a new series of paintings on aluminum entitled Yoake (Dawn), ink on aluminum, called Kumo…

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Casanova: The Seduction of Europe at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in February 2018 The Legion of Honor will have on view more than 80 works of art including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, period furnishings, delicate porcelains and lavish period costumes to recreate the world of eighteenth-century Europe through the life of one of its most infamous…

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Two Thought Provoking exhibits from The Fort Mason Center –Issac Julien and Sanctuary

Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco in January 2018 Through February 11, The Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture brings three video installations by award-winning British artist Isaac Julien to the Bay Area.  Julien’s films explore the way capitalism and information influences people’s everyday lives. Three separate galleries will feature three films,…

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