Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Fisher Collection at SFMOMA 2: Gigantism

The current exhibit on the top two floors of the museum is only displaying 160 out of the 1,100 piece collection, and you can see why.

They are all huge.

No wonder he wanted his own monster museum.

When Donald Fisher died in 2009, there were respectful obituaries in all the local media with the exception of Matt Smith in the SF Weekly who had just read a ghost-written autobiography of Donald Fisher, where he brags about his union-busting and support of charter schools where he was an early investor (click here).

One of the most damning quotes from the book is about his art collecting methods:

"One of my principles is to never buy an artist that I can't sell at auction... Buying art pieces in [the $5,000] price category means I might hit one out of 20, where the artist becomes very valuable. So what do I do with the other 19 that are worth only $5,000 each or less? I don't like those odds. I'd rather spend more money on an artist who is worth something right now and figure that piece has a good chance to appreciate. Then, if I don't like it later, at least I can sell it. Good modern art and the business of fashion make great style-mates."

In other words, he went for the blue-chip artists of his time, like Gerhard Richter (above) and Frank Stella (below).

There are a lot of wonderful works, though, that have probably bolstered the museum's permanent collection by an order of ten.

A few of my favorite things are some Martin Puryear sculptures...

...a trio of major Chuck Close portraits...

...a gorgeous Diebenkorn...

...and one of the sweetest and smallest (in context) paintings, a Hockney double portrait.

I look forward to getting to know them.


Lisa Hirsch said...

GREAT report, and WHAT is the painting in the third photo from the top??

sfmike said...

Thanks for the kind words. I assume you mean in Post Part 2, which is Sigmar Polke's "The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible II (Meteor... from 1988 made of meteoric granulate and artificial resin on canvas. It's 157-1/2 inches x 118-1/8 inches in size, in case you're interested. Donald liked the big ones, as you will see.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yes, exactly, that's the painting. Looks great - I love color-field painting and this one's pretty close.

Polke just died last week. I should re-read that obit in the NY Times.

janinsanfran said...

They are much more interesting than I expected, watching the Fisher/SFMOMA soap opera. Thanks.