When Nick and I were staying at his house in California last week I INSISTED that we take a visit to one of my favorite museums in the world, SFMoMA. Every visit I find new favorite artists- and this excursion was no different.
The headline exhibit is currently Cindy Sherman, which, if I have to be honest, was a little off the deep end for me. Cindy Sherman is a notable portrait photographer- whose favorite subject is “herself”. However, this is not 500 photos of the same woman, in each, Cindy Sherman transforms herself with makeup, wigs and props to take on a new persona. There was one room of the exhibit I found especially bizarre where she photographed herself in the style of traditional portraiture as if from the 18th century, but with various grotesque anatomical exaggerations such as enlarged foreheads or giant prosthetic breasts. Like I said, bizarre- but interesting to see her skills of metamophosis.
My favorite exhibit at the museum was Naoya Hatakeyama, Natural Stories. Hatakeyama is a Japanese photographer, focused primarily on landscapes, and more specifically, ones that focus on the relationship between nature and humans. I found his images so peaceful and calming, which is interesting because some of them portray very jarring and violent images. On one hand there are many photos of landscapes that have been altered over time by human existence. For example he did an entire study of the controlled explosions of limestone inside a quarry. The other half of the exhibit is of man made landscapes that have been altered by natural forces- such as tsunami and earthquakes. At the end you wonder, which alters the other more?
And then of course, there is the amazing permanent collection at the museum. Organized by artistic movement, walking from room to room is like the greatest art history lesson you could have. I remember walking into the first room with several Matisse and Nick proclaims “wait- this isn’t Modern art” …my reply? “Well it was Modern when it first came out!” You have to know where you have been to see where you are going. I think that if certain artists didn’t pave the way, contemporary art could never be what it is now. Here are a few of my favorites, taken with my iPhone (shhh- don’t tell):