Jointly organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Matisse from SFMOMA brings together the work of Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) from both institutions’ collections for presentation at the Legion of Honor, through Sept.7, 2014.
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The single-gallery exhibition features 23 paintings, sculptures and works on paper from SFMOMA’s internationally acclaimed Matisse collection, alongside four important paintings and drawings from the Fine Arts Museums’ holdings and two works from private local collections.
“It is a true pleasure to offer the collaborative efforts of our two institutions to our community,” declared Colin B. Bailey, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco director. “San Francisco is fortunate to be home to impressive collections of Matisse’s work and we are pleased to present the works together for the first time at the Legion of Honor, which is known for its outstanding holdings of European art.”
“We are delighted to present these masterworks from our collection in such a stunning setting at the Fine Arts Museums,” said Neal Benezra, SFMOMA director. “Particularly exciting is the rare opportunity to view these Matisse works — so beloved by the public — in a fresh, new light.”
Matisse’s expressive canvases were first introduced to San Francisco shortly after the 1906 earthquake, shocking the arts community with their startling colors and brushwork. Since then, the Bay Area has maintained a fervent connection to the artist’s work, resulting in SFMOMA’s rich collection, which showcases pieces from Matisse’s early career and continues through the 1930s.
Matisse from SFMOMA includes important examples from the artist’s Fauve period, along with other significant paintings, drawings, and bronzes.
Iconic works such as Sketch from “The Joy of Life” (1905-1906), “The Girl with Green Eyes” (1908), and portraits of the artist’s early patrons Michael and Sarah Stein (1916) are featured along with major sculptural studies that include “Madeleine, I” (1901), “The Serf” (1900-1903), and “Large Head: Henriette II” (1927).
Also on view are pre-Fauve still lifes and landscapes, as well as “The Conversation” (1938), a later decorative interior.
Selections from the Fine Arts Museums’ collection include the vibrant and patterned “Young Woman in Pink” (1923) and an early nude painted in the academic manner “Faith, the Model” (ca. 1901), the latter of which was formerly owned by the Steins and displayed in their Paris apartment, as were many of the works in SFMOMA’s holdings.
Calder sculpture in new setting
Furthering the collaboration between these two key Bay Area arts institutions, Alexander Calder’s lively kinetic sculpture “Big Crinkly” (1969) from SFMOMA’s collection is on view in the de Young’s Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden.
Calder’s spirited “Big Crinkly” sculpture is featured against the verdant backdrop of the de Young’s outdoor sculpture garden. Animals and popular entertainers were among Calder’s favorite motifs throughout his career, and in “Big Crinkly,” the artist evokes both the abstract form of a large performing beast — neck stretched upright and body balanced on three circular feet — and a strongman holding up a barbell.
Calder attended high school in the Bay Area, and his father was a commissioner for San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 — making the installation of “Big Crinkly” all the more fitting at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The exhibition is organized by Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture, SFMOMA, and Melissa Buron, assistant curator of European painting, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, with assistance from Jared Ledesma, curatorial assistant, SFMOMA.
Major support is generously provided by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 40-page, illustrated catalogue, Matisse and San Francisco, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Matisse from SFMOMA is part of SFMOMA’s extensive off-site programming while its building is temporarily closed for expansion construction. Through early 2016, SFMOMA is on the go, presenting a dynamic slate of jointly organized and traveling exhibitions, public art displays and site-specific installations, and newly created education programs throughout the Bay Area
The Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, in San Francisco. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. and closed Mondays.
Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors (65 and above), $6 students with current ID and $6 youths 13-17. Members and children 12 and under are free. General admission is free the first Tuesday of every month. Tickets are available at legionofhonor.org.