Visual Art

Unchain my art

"The Prison Project" shines a light on works by artists touched by incarceration
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REVIEW The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world, with more than 1.8 million people currently behind bars. Read more »

"Friedlander"

A personal obsession with traveling and shooting the country
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REVIEW Throughout Lee Friedlander's 50-year oeuvre, much of which is now on display at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the photographer has been lauded for his liveliness, optimism, and mobility. Yet his paean to modern Americana often resembles monochrome memento mori. Taken as a whole, Friedlander's work has always seemed driven to two poles: the ephemeral and the haunting. Read more »

"Drama and Desire: Japanese Painting from the Floating World 1690-1850"

An exhilarating survey of early modern Japan and its sumptuous -- and often costly -- pleasures
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REVIEW Drawn almost entirely drawn from the near-mint-condition holdings of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, "Drama and Desire: Japanese Painting from the Floating World 1690–1850" is an exhilarating survey of early modern Japan and the sumptuous — and often costly — pleasures that were available to the upper echelon of its newly solidified class system.

One can follow the contextual trail laid down by the show and take in the long view of history inscribed with brush and natural pigments: the relocation of Japan's capital to Edo (now Tokyo); the establishmen Read more »

"From San Francisco to Silicon Valley"

Many viewers may recognize the city as they know it: construction, do-not-enter road signs, and a distant skyline
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REVIEW The camera loves San Francisco. Weather, light, hills, and landmarks all make it primary fodder for photographers, too many of whom hew to the postcard views. Known for his architectural documentation of the industrial outer rings of Europe's cities, Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico came to the Bay Area to capture its transitional developments: Silicon Valley and the San Francisco of strange buildings and telephone wires. Read more »

Madonna, Wilde, and bears -- oh my!

James Gobel goes hunting
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REVIEW The International Bear Rendezvous has come and gone, but a few stragglers searching for a good time can still be found in "Bear Hunting," James Gobel's series of lush and faintly melancholy portraits. Read more »

Lee Friedlander's lively American necrologies

A personal obsession with travel in "Friedlander"
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REVIEW Throughout Lee Friedlander's 50-year oeuvre, much of which is now on display at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the photographer has been lauded for his liveliness, optimism, and mobility. Yet his paean to modern Americana often resembles monochrome memento mori. Taken as a whole, Friedlander's work has always seemed driven to two poles: the ephemeral and the haunting. Read more »

The Bewitching Mary Blair Project

Disney's right hand shines in "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair"
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REVIEW Beginning in 1940 and continuing through the '60s, Mary Blair was a key contributor to the Disney aesthetic. As one of Walt Disney's right hands, she was responsible for the design of both the It's a Small World and Alice in Wonderland rides at Disneyland, as well as numerous large-scale tile murals that adorned the exteriors of Tomorrowland and still grace the lobby of the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort in Florida. Not only is her work part of the Disney canon but she also created illustrations for the classic children's Little Golden Books. Read more »

"Low Life Slow Life: Part One"

A self-curated portrait of the artist Paul McCarthy as a young man told with a few of his favorite things
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REVIEW "Low Life Slow Life: Part One" is a self-curated portrait of the artist Paul McCarthy as a young man told with a few of his favorite things. Read more »

Double talk

Give-and-take with Gilbert and George
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PREVIEW I approached a meeting with Gilbert and George, the joined-at-the-hip-since-the-late-1960s so-called living sculpture, with some trepidation. How does one interact with such a well-honed identity in a way that resembles a real conversation? How do you talk to a work of art?

Thankfully, the pair are a burnished public entity with manners — and demeanors that may seem a bit canned but not exactly insincere. Read more »

Bent empire

Gilbert and George crap out rainbow wonders
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REVIEW Holy glowing gonads! That's what popped into my head — as my eyes popped out — when I entered the second room of the de Young Museum's gorgeous "Gilbert and George" exhibition, which encompasses 30 years and 65 pieces of the British duo's video, graphic, and two-dimensional sculpture work. Read more »