Category Archives: Museums

Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim Museum, NYC

Friendship, by Agnes Martin. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Friendship, 1963, by Agnes Martin. Gold leaf and gesso on canvas. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The Agnes Martin exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York is a comprehensive survey of the artist’s career from the 1950s through the early 2000s.  Previously shown at The Tate, London and LACMA, the exhibition includes an extraordinary collection of paintings, works on paper and ephemera.


Untitled, 1965,by Agnes Martin
Watercolor, ink and gouache on paper.

For more than forty years, Agnes Martin (1912–2004) created subtle, evocative striped and grid-patterned paintings influenced by Asian belief systems including Taoism and Zen Buddhism. She was one of the few female artists who gained recognition in the male-dominated artworld of the 1950s and ’60s, and she lived and worked in New York. She moved to New Mexico in 1967 in search of solitude and silence, and continued to make her extraordinary paintings there for over three decades until her death in 2004.

Martin’s spare style was informed by her strong belief in the emotionally transformative power of art, and she said that appreciating her work fully requires quiet contemplation.  “Anyone who can sit on a stone in a field awhile can see my paintings,” Martin wrote.

Falling Blue (detail), 1963, by Agnes Martin. Oil and graphite on linen

Falling Blue (detail), 1963, by Agnes Martin. Oil and graphite on linen

The utter beauty and ineffable sense of calm created by her work envelops the viewer who takes the time to sit and look. For me, the exhibition was a serene oasis and much needed respite from the political turmoil in the country today.  “I would like (my pictures) to represent beauty, innocence and happiness,” Martin said. “I would like them all to represent that. Exaltation.”  She succeeded.

Agnes Martin, c. 1953 Photograph by Mildred Tolbert

Agnes Martin, c. 1953
Photograph by Mildred Tolbert

For more on Martin’s life and process, read Holland Carter’s excellent review in the New York Times:  The Joy of Reading Between Agnes Martin’s Lines.

guggenheimThe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue (between 88th and 89th Streets), New York and is open from 10 to 5 daily. The Agnes Martin exhibition will be on view through January 11, 2017.

“Collected” at Pier 24 Photography

"Collections" - view of the Nion McEvoy gallery

“Collected” exhibition at Pier 24 Photography – view of the Nion McEvoy gallery


Richard Avedon, Bob Dylan, 132nd Street & FDR Drive, Harlem

Collected, the eighth exhibition at Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco, highlights a selection of photographs from the Pilara Foundation and nine other Bay Area collections:  The Bluff Collection, Susie Tompkins Buell, Winn Ellis and David Mahoney, Carla Emil, Randi and Bob Fisher, Dan Holland and Patrick Printy, Mike and Kaitlyn Krieger, Nion McEvoy, and Chara Schreyer. The collectors were invited to choose the work they wanted to show and each has a separate gallery space.

Pier 24 Photography

Joel Sternfeld, Aisle 2, Row 3, Seat 5, Texas Theatre, 231 West Jefferson Boulevard, Dallas, Texas, November 1993

Each gallery expresses the unique perspectives of the individual collectors and includes a wide variety of well-known and not-so-well known photographs and photographers.  The Bluff Collection has a survey of work by Robert Frank. Nion McEvoy’s gallery, entitled ‘Beauty and the Beat,’ includes 100 photographs mostly related to music, from album covers to rock portraits.  The Fishers decided to show only William Eggleston, and the Kriegers display experimental contemporary works. Susie Tompkins Buell’s gallery has an outstanding grouping of sensitive and deeply personal work by four women photographers:  Consuelo Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, Dorothea Lange and Tina Modotti.

Robert Frank, Funeral, St. Helena, South Carolina

Robert Frank, Funeral, St. Helena, South Carolina

None of the photographs are accompanied by titles or attributions but printed guides are available at the reception desk and there are a few docents in the galleries. You can preview the exhibition via an online version of the catalog.

Andrew and Mary Pilara began collecting photography 13 years ago and have amassed over 4,000 photographs.  In 2010, they leased and renovated the Pier 24 warehouse space to house their permanent collection and to present photography exhibitions and related programs to the public. At 28,000 square feet, it is the largest space devoted solely to exhibiting photography in the world.


Collected will be on view until January 31, 2017.  Pier 24 Photography is located on The Embarcadero in San Francisco below the Bay Bridge and is open by appointment only.  Make an appointment online, or call 415-512-7424. Admission is free, and only 30 people are admitted per 2-hour interval.

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky at the Met

Lakota Eagle Feather Headdress, c. 1865

Lakota Chief Eagle Feather Headdress, c. 1865

“The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features 130 objects on loan from more than 50 international collections, ranging in age from pre-contact to contemporary pieces.  It has been called “one of the most completely beautiful sights in New York right now”  in Holland Cotter’s review in the New York Times.

The early Plains people had no written language, and they recorded histories and cultural and spiritual meanings through utilitarian and ceremonial art. They combined materials from the natural world to evoke the spiritual powers of animals, and later, incorporated goods acquired through trade with Europeans.  In his audio introduction to the exhibition, Curator Gaylord Torrence explains that while there was no word for “art” and no special class of “artists” in Plains Indian culture, the creators of these works were extraordinary individuals who were known and honored among their tribes and sometimes beyond.

The geographical area of the Plains cultures extended from Texas to Canada and from the Mississippi River to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Nations represented include Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Mesquakie and Kansa.


Woman’s Dress, c. 1855

The masterworks in the exhibition include an array of forms and media:  painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler and shell; porcupine quill and glass bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes, richly ornamented clothing and ceremonial objects.  Many of the works were collected centuries ago by French traders on their travels through America and ended up in French, not American, museums–particularly the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, where the exhibition originated in 4/14.  It then traveled to the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City and was shown there from 9/14 – 1/15 before coming to the Met.

Pawnee Ghost Dance Drum, c. 1891

Pawnee Ghost Dance Drum, c. 1891

For more background on the exhibition and its major pieces, listen to the Met’s accompanying audio guide by curators Gaylord Torrence and Judith Ostrowitz, artists Edgar Heap of Birds and Dana Claxton, along with narration by Cheryl Crazy Bull, president of the American Indian College Fund.  All of the exhibition objects are illustrated and described on the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition website. Click on any of the images in this post for a direct link to the Met’s description.


Girl’s Dress, c. 1900


The Plains Indians:  Artists of Earth and Sky continues through May 10, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710.

Arnold Newman at the Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Pablo Picasso, 1954

Pablo Picasso, Vallaurise, France, 1954

Arnold Newman:  Masterclass is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco until February 1, 2015.  The retrospective exhibition includes 200 of Newman’s most famous portraits, as well as rarely and never-before exhibited still lives, architectural studies, cityscapes and early portraits.

Based mostly in New York, Newman was one of the world’s best known and most influential photographers. He worked as a freelancer for Life and other magazines and traveled the world to photograph artists, architects, authors, composers, scientists, fellow photographers and politicians.  Newman found his vision in the empathy he felt for artists and their work, and his photographs demonstrate complex layers of emotional, psychological and cultural significance.  In a press release about the exhibit, the Contemporary Jewish Museum wrote that “Artists delighted in sitting for Newman, knowing that he would find a way to convey their sensibility in a forceful, yet always appropriate, fashion.”

Salvador Dali, 1951

Salvador Dali, 1951

Newman created powerful studio shots, as exemplified by his famous portrait of Pablo Picasso in Vallaurise, France, 1954 (above, left).

His signature style, however, was ‘environmental portraiture,’ in which he captured the essence of his subjects by showing them in their personal surroundings using strong, graphic, black and white imagery to give insight into what made his subjects so successful.

“Every artist is a different human being, a different kind of person, a different kind of personality, a different kind of psyche, and all of this the photographer should reflect,”  Newman is quoted as saying in the exhibition catalog.  The surroundings had to add to the composition and the understanding of the person.

Igor Stravinsky, 1960

Igor Stravinsky, 1960

Newman was a master at composition and was meticulous about his work. In the beautiful, black and white portrait of Russian Composer Igor Stravinsky  (above),  the composer was seated at a grand piano which was strategically silhouetted against a blank wall to create the illusion of the lid as an abstract musical note.

Marc Chagall, 1956

Marc Chagall, 1956

“Whenever I want to photograph someone, I read about them. I read biographies. If they are painters or scientists, I know their work. This is all good. It prepares me to observe.” – Arnold Newman

Newman’s work can be found in major museums and private collections worldwide.  The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco is open Thursday – Tuesday (closed Wednesdays) 415-655-7800


Arnold Newman

Art Appraisal San Francisco – Lauder Cubism Collection at the Met

Fernand Léger, Composition (The Typographer),1918-19), by

Fernand Léger, Composition (The Typographer),1918-19), by

Cubism: The Leonard A Lauder Collection now on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is considered one of the most important assemblages of Cubist art in the world.

The collection consists of 81 paintings, drawings, collages, works on paper and a few sculptures by Cubism’s four giants: Georges Braque (1882-1963), Juan Gris (1887-1927), Fernand Léger (1881-1965) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Most of the work dates from 1907 to 1918, and the Met has posted images of each of the pieces here.  The trove of signature works is valued at more than $1 billion.

New York Times art writer, Roberta Smith states in her comprehensive review that  “the work outlines the genesis of the modernist movement that set the stage for almost all others.”  Accompanying her article is a 13-image slide show of the work in place.

Georges Braque, Still Life: "2ᵉ étude, 1914

Georges Braque, Still Life: “2ᵉ étude, 1914

The collection raises the Met’s profile as an institution for modern and contemporary art considerably, since its holdings in that area were very limited before. Thomas Campbell, the museum’s director said that “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art.  It is an unreproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”

Leonard A. Lauder, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder, amassed the collection over a period of 40 years.  The Met has posted a video in which Lauder talks about his lifelong interest in collecting, from picture postcards and posters to Cubist works of art.  He said that when he discovered Cubism, “I found something I was really able to relate to, and I liked the concept of looking in depth at a moment in time.”

Lauder bought his first piece of Cubist art in 1976:  a Léger. In her review of the exhibition, New York Times art writer Carol Vogel reports:  Mr. Lauder said that “nobody wanted” Cubist art for the first 20 years he collected it, so it was still affordable. And early on, he knew that one day he would donate the collection to a museum. He said, “Before buying something, the question I always ask myself is this: If it were going to a museum, would it make the cut? If the answer is yes, then that’s what I buy.” The collection he put together now rivals that of major museums worldwide.

Juan Gris, Still Life With Checked Tablecloth, 1915

Juan Gris, Still Life With Checked Tablecloth, 1915

The Lauder Collection exhibition continues through February 16, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  If you go, get there early — best, right when it opens — because the exhibition gets crowded very quickly.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710

Leonard A. Lauder

Art Collector Leonard A. Lauder





Thomas Hart Benton’s epic “America Today” at the Met

ThomasHartBentonAmericaTodayMETThomas Hart Benton’s 1930’s epic  “America Today, Mural Rediscovered” is on display at the Met for the first time since acquisition in 2012.

The 10-panel, wrap-around mural cycle was commissioned in 1930 for the boardroom of Manhattan’s New School for Social Research and is one of Benton’s most famous works. It depicts a panoramic sweep of rural and urban American life on the eve of the Great Depression and shows everyday people in scenes of life during that time–flappers, farmers, steel workers burlesque dancers, Wall Street tycoons and more.

Lance EsplundBenton of the Wall Street Journal called the mural “A roiling, illustrative melting-pot nearly 8 feet tall…it serves up the good, the bad and the ugly in equal measure.”  Read the rest of his article for further description and history.

The Met is displaying the massive seven-and-a-half foot tall murals in a faithful replica of the 30-by-22-foot boardroom for which the piece was originally created. On view in an adjacent gallery are Benton’s studies and sketches for the mural.  Painter Jackson Pollock was Benton’s student during this time and he served as a model for several of the mural’s figures. Here’s the Met’s video curatorial overview of the installation.

Thomas Hart Benton (1989-1975) was born in Missouri, studied in Paris and lived in New York for more than 20 years before returning to the Midwest to live and work.

Thomas Hart Benton industrial“Thomas Hart Benton’s ‘America Today’ Mural Rediscovered” is in the Met’s American Wing, and will remain on view through April 19, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710

Thomas Hart Benton portrait

Thomas Hart Benton, Ken Burns PBS photo

The Future Whitney Museum: A Preview


The new Whitney from the High Line

The Whitney Museum closed its Madison Avenue location yesterday (10/19/14) when its blockbuster Jeff Koons retrospective ended.  More than 250,000 people saw the exhibition since it opened in June. The museum ended things with a bang, staying open 36 continuous hours during the final weekend. Whitney Director Adam Weinberg said, “This will not only give more people an opportunity to see the Koons retrospective, it’s also a chance for some to say goodbye to the Breuer building as it was.”  The closing weekend drew huge crowds.

The new Whitney Museum building in lower Manhattan is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in spring, 2015.  Check out the video preview. Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the new 200,000 square foot space will vastly increase the Whitney’s exhibition and programming space. The new building is located at Washington and Gansevoort Streets in the Meatpacking District, a 20-square block neighborhood bordered to the north and east by Chelsea and to the south by the West Village. The building project began in 2007.


The new Whitney from the Hudson River

Renzo Piano is widely acknowledged as the master of museum design.  He has designed 25 museums, 14 in the US alone, and he understands well the needs of board directors, curators, the visiting public and the spatial needs of the art itself.  According to Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney, “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and they have given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”

When the new building opens, the Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to present exhibitions and educational programming at the former Whitney’s uptown building for a period of eight years, with the possibility of extending the agreement for a longer term.  The Met’s lease begins in the spring of 2016 and runs through 2023.

Jules Maeght Gallery to open in San Francisco 11/14/14

Tourbillons Alexander Calder

Tourbillons, Alexander Calder, 1974
Ink on paper, 29.5 x 43 inches
Jules Maeght Gallery, San Francisco

Jules Maeght, grandson of the founders of Galerie Maeght, Paris and the Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, opens his first gallery in Hayes Valley, San Francisco on November 14, 2014.  The inaugural show, “Art in Motion” (11/14/14-1/31/15), brings together works that explore kinetic art in diverse forms, including pieces by Pol Bury, Alexander Calder, Marshall Elliott, Vassily Kandinsky, Kirstie Macleod, Joan Miró,  Clovis Prévost, Tracey Snelling and Kal Spelletich.  The Jules Maeght Gallery is located at 149 Gough Street (at Oak) and is housed in the former studio of San Francisco’s legendary inventor and machine-maker, Rube Goldberg.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 9.37.33 AM

Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, France

Maeght is one of the great names in the history of the 20th-century art world. In 1932, Aimé Maeght and his wife, Marguerite, opened a print studio “ARTE”  in the south of France, and in 1945, they opened Galerie Maeght in Paris with a show of Matisse drawings. Through the years, the Maeghts became influential and respected dealers,representing leading European Modernist artists such as Bonnard, Braque, Calder, Duchamp, Giacometti, Léger, Rouault and many others. Today, the Paris gallery is run by family members and shows modern masters as well as young artists. The Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence, opened in 1964 by Aimé and Marguerite, is a private museum with one of the largest collections of 20th-century art in Europe.  It has put on over 100 exhibitions since inception and has more than 200,000 visitors annually.  The Fondation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.

Jules, along with his partner and wife Amelie, continue the Maeght family legacy at their new gallery and will show modernist artists alongside contemporary Bay Area and international artists. For more information, call 415-549-7046 or email

Mildred Howard: Collective Memories Exhibition Opens


Island People on Blue Mountain I, 2013 Chine collé with pochoir and silver leaf

Mildred Howard:  Collective Memories opens at the Fresno Art Museum on September 26 and will be on view through January 4, 2015.  Mildred Howard was  awarded the Distinguished Woman Artist Award for 2014 by the Museum’s California’s Council of 100, an organization devoted to recognizing outstanding women in the arts.  The artist will give a free public lecture about her work 11 am – noon on October 4, and that afternoon will attend the Distinguished Woman Artist Award Ceremony and Luncheon.

The exhibition, curated by Dr. Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, includes thirty-five of Howard’s mixed media works which explore African American folk customs and traditions of the American South.  “Howard’s works are a constant interchange between formalism and content as she becomes more committed to the process of retrieval—selecting and working with repurposed materials to capture and peel back the layers that form her ideas and inform the embedded stories that she pushes forward, conscious of the layering of time and how time brings historical perspective to life.” ~ Fresno Art Museum


Artist Mildred Howard

Mildred Howard is a Berkeley-based artist, activist and teacher who is known for her sculptural installations and mixed media assemblages. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including an NEA Fellowship in sculpture, two Rockefeller Fellowships to Bellagio, Italy (1996 and 2007), the Adeline Kent Award from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Joan Mitchell Foundation CALL Program Artist award and a  California Arts Council Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited internationally including recent shows in Berlin, Cairo, and Bath, England.  She is represented by the Paule Anglim Gallery in San Francisco.

Howard’s work is included in the collections of the de Young Museum, Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, CA; the Oakland Museum of California; the San Jose Museum of Art, CA; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; the International Museum of Glass and Contemporary Art, Tacoma, WA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; the Washington State Art Commission and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Paule Anglim Gallery has published a wonderful on-line catalog for the exhibition on issuu:  Mildred Howard: Collective Memory.

Secondhand at Pier 24

Secondhand at Pier 24

Matt Lipps, Untitled (Women’s Heads), 2010
From “Secondhand” at Pier 24

Secondhand is the current exhibition at Pier 24, up until May, 2015.   It features the work of over a dozen artists whose work is based on the appropriation of pre-existing photographs.  Admission is free, but you need a reservation.  At 28,000 square feet, Pier 24 is the largest photography-only venue in the world. It was founded by retired San Francisco investment advisor Andy Pilara, and much of the work on display comes from his extensive collection.  If you missed the last couple of shows, you can buy the gallery guides from Pier 24, or take a look at the catalogs on line posted by Chris McCall, the director:  A Sense of Place (7/1/13 to 5/1/14), About Face  (5/15/12-4/30/13)

Anderson Collection at Stanford Opens 9/21/14

andersonMuseumThe eagerly anticipated Anderson Collection at Stanford University  will open to the public on September 21, 2014. Admission is free but timed tickets are required for weekends.  In 2011, the Andersons promised 121 works by 86 artists to Stanford, and the University constructed a permanent building designed by Ennead Architects next to the Cantor Arts Center exclusively for the gift. The Anderson Collection was assembled over the past 50 years by Bay Area locals Harry W. “Hunk” and Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson, along with their daughter Mary Patricia “Putter” Anderson Pence, and is considered among the world’s most impressive private holdings of 20th Century American Art.  It includes 837 works by 203 artists.