Initiated in the 1930’s as one of the first contemporary art museums, it is in the 1990’s that the Italian architect Mario Barro turned a dump downtown into the basis of today’s SFMOMA. In 2013 a generous donation from the Fishers – founders of the clothing brand GAP – called for the expansion of both the building and art collections. The renowned Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta – see the intriguing Oslo Opera House – designed a sustainable building. Its ingeniously manufactured fiber-reinforced plastic façade is a reminder of the ripples of the nearby ocean and in which the internal and outdoor spaces complement each other to showcase a rich and varied collection of modern art.
Exhibitions of photographs, mobiles, paintings, and sculptures rotate regularly on the 7 floors of the SFMOMA.
A massive diptych by the up and coming Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehertu welcomes the visitor symbolizing the good and the bad the painter saw in the USA the day after the election of Trump as president on multilayered canvases.
The paintings of Matisse, the abstracts of Braque and Jackson Pollock, the famous lines of Mondrian, the round shapes of Diego Rivera, the self portrait of Frida Kahlo, the surrealist pieces of Magritte and Dali, the bicolor paintings of Rothko, the realist photographs of Louis Stettner, the celebrities by Wharol, the comic-book paintings of Roy Lichtenstein so emblematic of the pop art era and many more share the museum space.
A few personal favorites are the mosaic-like portraits of the American painter Chuck Close, like the one of the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein; the clever, industrious, tenacious and protective steel spiders of Louise Bourgeois; the implementation of Sol LeWitt’s recipes; the sculpture garden by the largest vegetal wall in the USA; the mobiles of Alexander Calder; or Mark Rothko’s No. 14.
Whether it is to discover new art pieces or to expand your knowledge about your personal favorites, engaging tours lead by volunteers run several times a day. Visitors are invited to participate actively and let the art challenge them. With 17,000 square feet of exhibition space and a collection strong of 33,000 pieces, take your time or come back often!
Text and photos: Marcella van Alphen & Claire Lessiau
- Refer to the SFMOMA for more details about its exhibitions.
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