Never shy when it comes to culture, San Francisco’s fall/winter schedules are awash with compelling art exhibitions. Here, we pick out three of the best. And you won’t have to travel far from Hayes Valley to get to them.
Looking Back: 45 Years @ John Berggruen Gallery
Nostalgia is the theme of John Berggruen Gallery’s current exhibition, although nostalgia is rarely this hip. Until November 25th, the gallery celebrates everything it’s achieved during almost half a century in the business. Any movement in 20th- and 21st-century Modernism is represented here, from Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art to Bay Area Figurative. Featured artists include Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Frida Kahlo, Franz Kline, Roy Lichtenstein, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Looking Back is a blockbuster show by all accounts, and an accessible one at that.
Sophie Calle @ Fraenkel Gallery
Love, violence, secrets, and death are all subjects ripe for exploring for Sophie Calle, an artist unafraid to court controversy. An exhibition of her work at the photography-focused Fraenkel Gallery until December 24th ventures beyond photography alone. Calle’s wry pieces include “Cash Machine,” created from ATM video surveillance footage, and “Collateral Damage, Targets,” a series of images of petty criminals’ mugshots used for police target practice. The more loved-up side of the exhibition features two working safes in which couples are invited to stash their secrets. A contract above the safes stipulates how Calle will ensure these mysteries will remain secured.
Looking East @ Asian Art Museum
Until February 7th, San Francisco’s Asian Art Gallery – a stone’s throw from Hayes Valley – is turning its attentions eastward. Looking East delves into the craze for all things Japanese, a mania that struck the West after Japan opened its trade port in the 1850s. During an explosive time in arts communities, designers and artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, and Claude Monet were caught up in the whirlwind. This exhibition contains more than 170 objects that would inspire Western masters, from “Suido Bridge and Surugadai” by Utagawa Hiroshige to embroidered dressing gowns from the turn of the century. The derivative Western works such as “Maternal Caress (Caresse maternelle)” by Cassatt are on display as well. Beautifully curated and engrossing from start to finish, Looking East may very well inspire others to create masterpieces, too.