Established 1978
Fine Arts

Museum Roundup 2013

by Kellie Ell

San Francisco has a lot in store in the world of art for the upcoming year. From famous masterpieces to long-awaited retrospectives, to globetrotting artists whose works are being celebrated at San Francisco museums, here’s a look at what to look for:

The de Young Museum

The de Young Museum will be the first of three American museums to present the much-anticipated Dutch painting, Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, on loan from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Netherlands during that museum’s two-year renovation. The painting is part of the show, Girl With a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings From the Mauritshuis (January 26 through June 2, 2013), which will later make stops in Atlanta and New York, before going to Japan. Painted circa 1665, the iconic canvas was last seen on American soil in 1995 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The masterpiece, from what some call the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, is often referred to as the “Dutch Mona Lisa.” The painting depicts a young girl with a shiny pearl earring and a luminous gaze, peering somewhat inscrutably over her shoulder. Running concurrently, Rembrandt’s Century is a compilation of the 17th century Dutch artists most influenced by Rembrandt, as well as those who came before him, featuring paintings, etchings, portraits, and landscapes, which embody the Baroque style. Rembrandt’s ‘Tronie’ of a Man with a Feathered Beret will also be on display.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

SFMOMA will present an eclectic mix of exhibitions in 2013, including the first major showcase of photographer Garry Winogrand’s work in 25 years. The retrospective (March 9 through June 2, 2013) will be the first truly comprehensive look at his work, including many prints that have never been shown. The American street photographer, who is best known for his portrayal of mid-century American life and the social issues that characterized the era, is considered one of the leading American documentary photographers of his generation, despite the fact that only a small portion of his work has been printed. Winogrand was only 56 when he died suddenly in 1984, leaving behind more than 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film, and some 6,500 prints that were never published. Of the 300 photos included in the SFMOMA show, more than one-third of them will be presented for the first time. His photos capture simple American pleasures, as he takes viewers to the Bronx Zoo and summers on Coney Island, along with the hopefulness and coinciding gloom that exemplified the United States, post-World War II, covering Texas, Chicago, Southern California, Washington, and Miami. His photos can be interpreted as love letters to a generation, as well as evidence of the social divides that plagued the country.

Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum will present several new exhibitions for both culture vultures and art aficionados alike. Beginning in February, art lovers and history buffs will marvel at China’s Terracotta Warriors, The First Emperor’s Legacy, running February 22 through May 27, 2013. The first emperor, Qin Shihuang (259-210 B.C.), helped unify China and also achieved immortality with his elaborate underground tomb, built before his death. The tomb is filled with a life-sized terracotta army of warriors, infantrymen, horses, chariots and all of their weaponry—and, most fascinating, it wasn’t discovered until 1974. The exhibit includes ten representative samples of the burial chamber’s army. Later in the year, the museum will present In the Moment: Japanese Art from the Larry Ellison Collection (June 28 through September 22, 2013), which includes 80 pieces of artwork from the personal collection of Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO and founder of Oracle Team U.S.A. Ellison’s rarely seen collection spans more than 1,300 years, and highlights include traditional Japanese screens, which often depict nature’s change of seasons. Japanese artists from the Momoyama and Edo periods are also represented in the collection, along with paintings, metalwork, and the 13th century wooden sculpture of Shotoku Taishi.

Contemporary Jewish Museum

The Contemporary Jewish Museum will present a bold new show, The World Stage: Israel, from February 14 through May 27, 2013, with paintings by artist Kehinde Wiley. The New York-based artist is known for his fierce paintings in bold colors of larger-than-life alpha males. After traveling all over the globe, Wiley was inspired by the diverse array of men he met. “Some of the things I started to see echoed all over the world, in the streets of Mumbai, Beijing, Sao Paolo, and Lagos. It was a very black American aesthetic, yet altered, based on local temperature,” he says. In his first major Bay Area exhibition, the artist examines the “global diaspora” of “black and brown people who live in the shadows all the time.” Wiley, who was strongly influenced by the European portraits he saw as a child, found that the pretense of wealth depicted in the Baroque period also existed in the ostentatious men of modern-day New York City. The macho-looking men in king-like poses in Wiley’s paintings, along with the artist’s intense use of color and intricate, flashy settings, are all part of Wiley’s fantasy—and his effort to “destabilize” the viewer, and make him or her just a little bit unsure of what to expect next.


A passionate yoga junkie, Kellie Ell is a former intern at the Nob Hill Gazette. When not writing, she can be found climbing the hills of San Francisco on her bike.

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