Monday, December 12, 2011

Seasonal Minimalism

This pleasing installation of small round pulsing lightbulbs-on-wires was the sole and only decoration (seasonal or otherwise) in the reception area of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this afternoon, a space that has not looked so chaste since the building opened in 1995.

Last week The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mario Botta's "iconic" three-story exposed granite staircase in the atrium (above) is going to be removed as part of the major expansion project that is roaring loudly forward.

This balcony is located just below the museum's elliptical and stripe-surrounded skylight. The balcony also gives access to the view below of Yerba Buena Gardens in its winter aspect.

From the same balcony looking north toward downtown you see first the roofs of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, then the brick facade and white arches of the Contemporary Jewish Museum (with that gorgeous blue trapezoid by Daniel Libeskind emerging from its roof). In the background the brick steeple and unadorned body of St. Patrick's Church, built in 1872.

The permanent collection at SFMOMA had been largely restaged and rehung since my last trip and several unfamiliar pieces had emerged from the vaults. Two of these are below, ready to welcome in-person visitors and repay any amount of scrutiny.

Julio González (1876-1942)
Petite faucille (femme debout)
c. 1937

Manuel Neri (born 1930)
Mary and Julia
Plaster with pigment

Today the Calder did not look happy. It looked like somebody's forgotten toy.