We Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Agave (2010), by American Elliot Hundley, born 1975, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art- Photography by David A. Porter

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – When The Roaming Boomers® are visiting a large metropolitan area, chances are very high that you will find us in the local museums.

While we are impassioned admirers of God’s creation, we also greatly enjoy the many mediums of man’s creation.

The San Francisco Museum of Art opened in 1935 and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art.

In 1975, the term “Modern” was added to the museum’s title to describe its purview more accurately, and the museum became The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Further, in 1995, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art moved to an iconic, 225,000 square-foot building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. (Photo:  Richard Barnes)

When we visit a museum, we love to participate in docent lead tours.  However, for this particular visit we opted for the free audio tour.  The museum has hundreds of informational audio descriptions on the highlights of their collection.

In our opinion, visiting a museums without at least an audio guide is nearly a complete waste of time.  Having a guide to share with you background and anecdotal information about the collection makes for a much more informed and valuable experience.

SFMOMA 5th-Floor Sculpture Garden

With audio players around our necks, we went to the top floor and worked our way down through the five-stories of the SFMOMA’s collection.

Modern art museums have a long-standing practice of exploring all facets and expressions of life.  Sometimes this expression is taken to the extreme fringes and becomes controversial, but we find modern art museums to be a place to explore another person’s world-view that invariably stimulates good conversation.

A good example of this is the SFMOMA’s U.S. premiere of Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870.

Image – Tom Howard, The Electrocution of Ruth Snyder, 1928; gelatin silver print; 4 x 4 in. (10.16 x 10.16 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase

Exposed traces how voyeuristic observation with cameras in the 19th century influenced street photography in the 20th century. Moving beyond typical notions of voyeurism and surveillance as strictly erotic or predatory, the presentation will address these concepts in their broadest sense—in both historical and contemporary contexts—investigating how new technologies, urban planning, global intelligence, celebrity culture, and an evolving media environment have fueled a growing interest in the subject.  With the proliferation of cell-phone cameras, YouTube videos, security cameras, reality television, satellite views, and infrared technology, our potential to spy on others seems increasingly boundless.

The exhibit considered five themes of “forbidden looking” that the evolution of the camera brought about:

  1. The Unseen Photographer
  2. Voyeurism and Desire
  3. Celebrity and the Public Gaze
  4. Witnessing Violence
  5. Surveillance

Through highly graphic, and sometimes deeply disturbing imagery, this exhibit puts in your face how “exposed” our world has become with the advent of photographic technologies.

Reading of Ruth Snyder’s execution in the electric chair is one thing.   Seeing it actually portrayed in a photograph is something altogether different.  A photograph penetrates the soul far deeper than than the individual imaginations we create from reading, or hearing about such an event.

After viewing the “Exposed” special exhibit, we were ready for something significantly lighter.

Popeye the Sailor Man came to our rescue:

We spent roughly five hours exploring the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s collection and didn’t even scratch the surface.  Furthermore, in this short post, we haven’t begun to share with you all the things we witnessed a well.

However, in closing, consider the wine-sniffing wall in the How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now exhibit.

We greatly enjoyed our visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and highly recommend that you consider this venue when you make a trip to San Francisco.

Disclosure:  Our experience was provided by the generous folks at SFMOMA.  Thanks!
Comments
One Response to “We Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)”
  1. Good site. My thanks for writing that. I will check again to find out more and tell my neighbors about it.

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