Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Four Saints in Three Acts - no pigeons, no grass and that's a fact!

Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein looking over the score for Four Saints in Three Acts, ca. 1929; Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Library, Yale University; photo: Mabel Thérèse Bonney

Review up at:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Oh, Art therapy, now I get it:
Charlotte Salomon at CJM

Matisse channels David Park at SFMOMA

After the Gertrude Stein exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, see Charlotte Salomon's 300 small paintings on display.

Through her brush, Salomon articulated every painful and important thought and event -- the history of her life -- during a 2 year seclusion starting in the late 1930's.

For years, when I thought of SFMOMA, two colorful works came to mind: Sol Lewitt's wall drawings in the atrium, and the pre-psychedelic Matisse "Woman with a hat."

Even though Lewitt's installation was removed several years ago, I still expect to see it. And I've always wanted SFMOMA to move "Woman with a hat" to one of the back galleries -- like the Mona Lisa, something to be discovered -- rather than displaying her like a Wal-Mart greeter as you enter the permanent collection galleries.

What caught my eye in all the color at Steins Collect at SFMOMA were two dark nudes by Matisse, their blank sadness reminding me of works by David Park.

And when I found a fascinating painting like Picasso's Head of a Sleeping Woman (Study for Nude with Drapery), also at Steins Collect, I appreciated being able to go back and forth between the painting and the many studies of it, seeing how it came to be.

posted by Phil Gravitt

Saturday, August 20, 2011

FourSquared - 16 Artists

If you are tired of always looking at the big picture, try the Second Annual FourSquared show at Arc Gallery on Folsom Street. The opening reception is August 27, 7-10PM, and runs til Sept 26.

Sixteen Bay Area artists will each be showing sixteen small works.

Featured artists include Annie Arrasmith, John Fitzsimmons, photographer Audrey Heller, Judy Johnson-Williams, Barbara Kleinhans, Kristin Kyono, Paul Madonna (creator of "All Over Coffee"), Michael McConnell, Carrie Nardello, Nite Owl, Mark Paron, Sonya Philip (see Philip's fiber art pictured above), Silvia Poloto, Fernando Reyes, Rebecca Szeto, and Hadley Williams

Arc Gallery
W-Th-Sat 12-5PM
1246 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103

posted by Phil Gravitt

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Mourners. Tomb sculptures of the Dukes of Burgundy at the Legion

Thirty-seven pilgrims from the Middle Ages landed at the Legion in San Francisco this week. Since 2010, they have have been making a journey across the United States and San Francisco is their next- to-last stop before returning to France, never to travel again.

Continue reading on The Mourners. Tomb sculptures of the Dukes of Burgundy at the Legion - San Francisco Museum |

Friday, August 12, 2011

70 Years of Archie Comics and the Green Lantern at the Cartoon Art Museum

Even though this cartoon strip came after the original creator served in WW II, it's still so very innocent and naive. Reality never intrudes in Archie's world. He may be seventy but he's still got all his hair, his freckles and hasn't gained an ounce of weight. Furthermore, he's still dithering between Betty and Veronica. The museum was full of kids, religiously reading every frame so obviously he's still got a lot of fans.

Promotional caricatures of Archie Andrews and cast for The Adventures of Archie Andrews, as part of the NBC Parade of Stars promotion. 1942 ? (from Wikipedia)

Read more at:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Michael McMillen: Train of Thought' at the OMCA

I liked the show a lot better than I thought I would; usually conceptual and installation art leaves me cold but this was interesting, thoughtful, quirky and edgy. 

 Michael C. McMillen: "Train of Thought," the current exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is a retrospective look at the career of Michael C. McMillen, an internationally renowned Southern California-based mixed-media artist. The exhibition features large-scale multisensory installations, assemblages, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and films that invite viewers into McMillen's imaginary world, Review up at:

(really infuriating that the Examiner template cuts off the top and bottom of almost all images) 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Studying with Hans Hoffman - resources at the Berkeley Art Museum

 Hans Hoffman, Effervescence, Berkeley Art Museum (BAM).

Going back in time to study with one of the most influential teachers of modern art would require a time machine and I am afraid that we haven't built one yet. But the next best thing is right here in the Bay Area. UC Berkeley has a huge collection of Hoffman paintings and almost always has one gallery exhibiting work.

After all, the Berkeley Art Museum was founded in 1963 by following the donation to the university of forty-five paintings and $250,000 from artist and teacher Hans Hofmann. Their on-line data base also has a large number of Hoffman images; the search function is completely unworkable, but the images are fairly large with comprehensive captions. If you check the archive out, look at the enormous numbers of beautiful Chinese paintings. I hope that when the new museum opens (2014?), that they will have more room for exhibiting their collection of Asian Art.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage at the Berkeley Art Museum

The multidisciplinary nature of Schwitters’s output, which can make a career survey look like a group show, may be one of the reasons he remains an little known figure. His sole American retrospective, at MoMA, was 25 years ago. Representative samplings of his art have since rarely been on view, there or elsewhere.

Yet he has had a huge effect on post-World War II artists and is revered by many. Two of the collages in the show are from Jasper Johns’s collection; two others are owned by Ellsworth Kelly. ...And a Schwitters effect, however indirect and unrecognized, can be spotted in much contemporary work. (Holland Cotter, NY TImes)

Two part essay - Part two of the review of the show in Berkeley:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage at the Berkeley Art Museum

 Peter Bissegger: Reconstruction of Kurt Schwitters's Merzbau, 1981-83 (original ca. 1930-37, destroyed 1943); 154-3/4 x 228 3/8 x 181 in.; Sprengel Museum Hannover. Photo: Michael Herling / Aline Gwose, Sprengel Museum Hannover (c) Peter Bisseger.

Kurt Schwitters, Color and Collage” which opens Wednesday at the Berkeley Art Museum is the first major overview of the legendary German artist’s work presented in the United States in twenty-six years. The exhibition includes approximately eighty assemblages, sculptures, and collages made between 1918 and 1947 that elucidate the relationship between collage and painting—as well as color and material—in Schwitters’s work.
More at: