Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All Modern

Tuesday was a somber day in San Francisco, never quite raining but always about to. Even underground at the 16th Street Station in the Mission, the light was restrained and unencouraging. But I bravely caught the train anyway and rode downtown.

Walking past the Contemporary Jewish Museum I could not remember ever before seeing Daniel Libeskind's uptilted blue cube without sunshine on it. It looked unfamiliar, a whole different color. As the museum's web site later explained, " ... from the outside, the extension is most remarkable for its unique shape, as well as its skin: a vibrant blue metallic steel, which changes color depending on the time of day, weather, or one's vantage point." Vibrant would not be the adjective anybody sane would pick for its color on Tuesday.

But my destination was around the corner – the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – where I got my first exposure to the large ambitious 75th Anniversary show from the permanent collection. And there I saw enough wonders to do a good temporary job of offsetting the gloom that descends like inevitable weather every year in the week between the two big Holidays.

To my mind the gold-bead curtain below, while labeled as a Work Of Art, looked like it came from Ikea. But for all I know, that's what it was supposed to look like. There is probably an official Chain Store school, on a par with Postminimalism or Earth Art, and I just haven't heard of it yet.

All the same, the newest & most adventurous work seemed to be reserved for the top floor galleries on the far side of the floating pedestrian bridge below.

Above, another bridge, opened only this year (as first viewed here back in May) connects the top floor galleries with new gallery space and a sculpture garden built on top of the museum's parking garage.