Monday, November 20, 2017

SFMOMA with Donald Kinney

I took Donald Kinney, a Marin County photographer, to the newly expanded SFMOMA for his first visit last Saturday. We started on the 7th floor watching 20 minutes of Ragnar Kjartansson's The Visitors, and then descended to the fifth floor to hang out with Louise Bourgeois' spiders.

A huge retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg from New York's MOMA opened last Saturday on the fourth floor, and a cruel line from Peter Schjeldahl's otherwise laudatory New Yorker magazine review from last May jumped out: "For a great artist, he made remarkably little good art."

Scheldahl opens his appreciation with: "While creating the universe, did God have in mind that, at a certain point, a stuffed goat with a car tire around its middle would materialize to round out the scheme? It came to pass, in New York, with “Monogram” (1955-59)—goat, tire, and also paint, paper, fabric, printed matter, metal, wood, shoe heel, and tennis ball."

The art is all over the place, including a vat of bubbling mud from the late 1960s with one of the best pieces of wall signage ever.

You will be splattered.

You will also be surrounded by museumgoers addicted to their mobile devices.

Then we meandered to the third floor where there is an even larger retrospective of the 20th Century American photographer Walker Evans. (The photo above is of a Havana dockworker in 1932). The exhibit, focused on Evans' use of the "vernacular," originated in Paris and is so overstuffed that the effect is finally numbing. It probably would have been twice as interesting at half the size.

My photographer friend lamented the disappearance of so much of the quirky, tattered signage that once was predominant all over the country. (The above photo is from Nova Scotia in 1971.)

On our way out of the museum, digital signage was flashing a picture and quote from my friend Charlise Tiee, who seems to be the ubiquitous Cultural Poster Woman of the Bay Area, along with her husband Scott and her son Theo who is obviously going to be a superstar of some sort when he grows up.


Rachel said...

Okay, Michael, when is our The Visitors date?
Drop me a line!
realitycoursepress at gmail


Civic Center said...

Dear Rachel: That email address doesn't seem to be working for me. Write to me at