Displaying Art at Home by Sarah Lonsdale

Janet Bishop is the curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Her most recent exhibition—The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde—reunited the collections of Gertrude Stein and her family, who installed the art in their Paris apartments salon-style. We asked Janet to give us advice on how we should go about displaying art in our own homes. 

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Doug Aitken has just announced the details of Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening, an exciting new art project that will support programming at seven partner museums, including SFMOMA! This September, a train (turned into a “kinetic sculpture” by Aitken) will travel from NYC to SF, stopping along the way to connect artists, musicians, and creative pioneers. Watch this video to learn more!

Image: Rendering of Station to Station train by Doug Aitken. Work in progress. © 2013 Doug Aitken

Robert Rauschenberg, contact sheet showing Cy Twombly in Rome, 1952

This contact sheet is part of the SFMOMA Rauschenberg research project. What’s interesting is the widely seen photograph of Twombly at the Musei Capitolini (Cy + Relics) is on the same roll of film as Cy + Roman Steps (I-V). They are at a similar location in Rome, so it’s not much of a surprise that they were taken on the same afternoon. Another hint is Twombly is wearing the same outfit. I’ve never seen the full-size frame of Twombly looking down.

Nicholas Cullinan’s essay on Cy + Roman Steps (I-V) offers interesting pieces of information that I wasn’t aware of. First, Twombly had applied as a photographer for the fellowship trip to Rome. Rauschenberg helped him make portfolio prints. (Do these prints exist?) Second, there’s discussion of Muybridge’s influence on this work. Rauschenberg owned several Muybridge prints at the time and gifted Twombly a Muybridge. And Cullinan’s 2007 interviews with Twombly in Italy revealed that Muybridge (as well as Duchamp) was an influence on the Treatise on the Veil paintings.

See previously, review of Cy Twombly: Photographs 1951-2007


I first saw this photo on sfmoma's blog about a year ago, without information about the photographer or when it was taken. Today, after re-spotting it - again without credits - I thought I check the web if I can find any reliable information about this photograph, and voilà, here it is:

It was taken by Herb Slodounik, who worked as staff photographer for The Montana Standard where the photo was published in April 28, 1968. For everyone with a newspapers.com account: you can check it here.

The Montana Standard caption:

"GRATE," BUT IS IT ART? is an example of candid humor where the photographer does not intrude or control the situation. This picture was taken several years ago by staff photographer Herb Slodounik in the San Francisco Museum of Art Shot with a Rolleiflex 2. (+)

A few years earlier the photo was published on the famous ‘Miscellany’ back page of Life Magazine / Issue July 26, 1963 (I guess it was taken around that time).

In 1988 it was republished in the book LIFE SMILES BACK by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., together with 231 more ‘Miscellany’ photos.


"At the San Francisco Museum of Art, an abstract gets close scrutiny.” (+)

Herb Slodounik died in 2008 after suffering from cancer. You can find more information about his life here.


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Just a few scenes from a visit to the SF MoMA on Monday. It’s sad that they’re closing for 3 years to expand, but it’s going to look incredible when it’s all done.

Really happy to be able to photograph the Mondrian cake as well. I was there with a group of awesome photo friends, and we literally went almost exclusively for the cake. $18 entrance fee to the museum + $8 slice of cake. Worth it!

It tasted OK, but really, it looks awesome.

I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on — and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate those basic human emotions… The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!

Mark Rothko on the Transcendent Power of Art and How (Not) To Experience His Paintings, via Brainkpickings

Have you ever had a strong emotional experience when viewing a work by Rothko?