Friday, June 28, 2013

Spirituality Beyond Belief

SFMOMA recently shut its doors for three years so that construction on its huge new addition can begin. In the meantime, the institution has initiated its partnerships in exile (or on-the-go, as they are branding it) at the Contemporary Jewish Museum a block away on Mission Street. The exhibit, culled from the SFMOMA permanent collection with art from 1911 to 2011, is called Beyond Belief and has something to do with "spirituality," Jewish and otherwise.

Though some pieces deal with the subject directly, such as Nam June Paik's 1989 closed-circuit TV Buddha above...

...others are highly abstract in their relationship to the spiritual, such as Brice Marden's 1991 Cold Mountain 6 (Bridge) which according to the wall signage was inspired by the 8th century Buddhist monk Han Shan.

The most charming aspect of the exhibit is its manageable size, which evokes memories of the old SFMOMA when it was situated on two floors in the Veterans Building in Civic Center.

The show is also refreshingly rich in the work of female artists such as Georgia O'Keefe's small 1994 Black Place 1...

...Jay DeFeo's huge 1957 The Veronica...

...and Fire, a 2005 sculptural installation by Teresita Fernandez.

I was also taken by California painter Lorser Feitelson's Post Surrealist painting from 1934, Genesis First Version, created before the artist went rigorously abstract in the 1940s.

And if you are in the mood for sitting in front of a large Mark Rothko painting (No. 14, 1960), there is a bench helpfully placed right in front of the work. Be sure to color coordinate, though, like the lady above.


janinsanfran said...

That looks a hell of a lot more interesting than the occasional SFMOMA exhibits I've been to.

-- your philistine friend

AphotoAday said...

Oh, I used to love going to the "old" MOMA. In 1968, it must have been, a buddy and I visited heavily under the influence of "some" type of herb, and the first "piece of art" we looked at was a cube-like object with many 3" holes on its top. I thought; "what a cool chair", and my buddy and I took turns sitting on it. The guard came over and informed us it was not a chair and to please not sit on the umbrella stand, to which we both cracked up, to which the guard threatened to throw us both out if we didn't regain our composure.
As for the huge Rothko painting--I love it--but what I love more is hearing the tour guides describe it. They always ask their crowd; "how many colors do you see here?", to which someone first says 3, and the number increases to 5 and then someone else says 100, to which the tour guide interjects; "well, there are millions of colors in there" (((which may or may not be true))), making everyone feel rather stupid--I guess it is a trick question. But yeah, the only thing that really "completes" that painting is the people sitting on the bench, exactly as you have photographed.