As well as being an avid traveler, I am also an avid museum goer :) (I’m not certain that goer is a proper word, but I would like to use it anyway if you don’t mind). And after having seen a couple dozen museums, you start to develop quite an opinion on what makes a great museum and what a great exhibit does. I was quite excited to visit San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the first time on my recent trip to San Francisco and loved the museum. I realize they will not be in the current space much longer and are expanding, but for someone who has grown up with the Art Institute of Chicago as a standard for an art museum, the smaller size of SFMOMA was wonderful and much less intimidating than the overwhelming collection the Art Institute displays on any given day. They had a quite large collection called Don’t Be Shy, Don’t Hold Back up, which was quite impressive. The exhibit included Damien Hirst’s Philip (which is a bull’s head in formaldehyde) which I’m sure many found fascinating, but not as much as this child (first picture) who proceeded to lay there next to it while his mom walked around the rest of the exhibit. It was completely disconcerting to see the kid lay there next to the head of a dead bull, but also perfectly captured that fascination we, as humans, have with life and death. Only most of us aren’t quite comfortable enough with the idea to lay down on the museum floor :) The other section I really enjoyed was the visitor art. Some of it was beautiful, some of it was funny and all of it interesting. There are differing opinions on how much the audience completes the art (sort of ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ idea but with art), but I like to think that the audience plays a huge part in the artwork so it is always fun to see the responses.
One of my favorite ‘new to me’ works in the museum, was this painting by Jenny Saville called Hem. The text on the wall describes it as a cross section of figure painting and landscape and I completely agree. But as much as I love the artist’s choice to play on conventional standards of beauty and the classic subject of the female nude, what I loved even more was the gorgeous textures that were created through the oil paint. I was fascinated and inspired to go home and play with oil paint :) Absolutely beautiful, in my opinion!
Courtesy of my dear friend Maddy, I’m also including this photo of me peeking, despite direct orders not to. Just so no one gets the wrong idea about me just being some nerdy museum lover. I feel that it is only fair to you all to know that you are also dealing with a rebel ;)