The San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA) announces three new exhibitions opening this July, highlighting works by both well-known and emerging artists across a variety of media. Soundtracks offers a pioneering presentation of contemporary works that address the experience of sound in relation to space; the 2017 SECA Art Award presents art for our time created by five emerging Bay Area artists in their debut presentations at a major institution; and Noguchi’s Playscapes, a survey of Isamu Noguchi’s influential designs for playgrounds and play structures, explores the democratization of public space.
2017 SECA Art Award
On view July 15–September 17, 2017
The 2017 SECA Art Award exhibition, the first to be held in the new SFMOMA, features five Bay Area artists in their first major museum presentations. Liam Everett, Alicia McCarthy, Sean McFarland, K.r.m. Mooney and Lindsey White join the ranks of the more than 70 artists who have received the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA) Art Award since 1967. Previous winners include Tauba Auerbach, Chris Johanson, Barry McGee, Trevor Paglen and Mitzi Pederson.
This year’s exhibition is organized by Jenny Gheith, assistant curator of painting and sculpture, and Erin O’Toole, Baker Street Foundation Associate Curator of Photography, who selected the winners from nearly 250 applicants over a 10-month period. The process began with nominations by SECA members, previous art award winners, SFMOMA staff and members of the local arts community. The five awardees were chosen from a group of 16 finalists, which also included Amy Balkin, Nate Boyce, Will Brown, Ajit Chauhan, Ala Ebtekar, Constance Hockaday, Cybele Lyle, Mads Lynnerup, Ben Peterson, Richard T. Walker and May Wilson.
The exhibition will be held in the temporary exhibition galleries on the museum’s fourth floor, and each artist will have a dedicated gallery. Liam Everett’s paintings reveal traces of their making, evidence of deliberate and repetitive actions focused on movement and materials. In her intricately patterned compositions, Alicia McCarthy transforms surfaces into bursts of line and vibrant color. Using made and found photographs, Sean McFarland reckons with the challenges of representing the landscape. K.r.m. Mooney incorporates natural, industrial and hand-crafted elements in sculptures that explore the relationships between bodies and objects. In her most recent work, Lindsey White takes humor seriously, making photographs and sculptures inspired by stage performers such as comedians and magicians.
Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue edited by the curators that includes essays and interviews with the artists. The exhibition is jointly curated by Jenny Gheith, assistant curator of painting and sculpture, and Erin O’Toole, Baker Street Foundation Associate Curator of Photography.
On view July 15–November 26, 2017
Noguchi’s Playscapes presents ideas about the democratization of art and public space by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988). The artist was a fervent believer that sculpture is an aesthetic and cultural tool capable of creating synergy between individuality and society. Observing that playgrounds offer a physical and social interaction not typically seen in a museum, Noguchi designed a number of public spaces where visitors could actively engage with art. The exhibition gathers his designs for several playgrounds, stand-alone play structures and other works that, while serious in subject, employ playful elements to engage the viewer. The body of work presented has become hugely influential for contemporary landscape architects, urban planners, artists and education specialists. Noguchi’s playscapes provoke a reconsideration of the role of art in recreation, education and community.
“Inspired by observing dancers interact with the set designs he created, Noguchi saw public playscapes as opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to physically interact with art,” said Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design at SFMOMA. “Through play, we are less socially inhibited, and as public space becomes increasingly politicized, Noguchi’s thoughtful designs for play, reflection and creative stimulation remain aspirational.”
The exhibition is organized by the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo and the Fundacíon Olga y Rufino Tamayo, A.C., in collaboration with The Noguchi Museum in New York. The presentation at SFMOMA is curated by Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design.
On view July 15, 2017–January 1, 2018
Floor 7 and multiple locations throughout the museum
Soundtracks is the museum’s first large-scale group exhibition centered on the role of sound in contemporary art. Focusing on the perceptual experience of space, the exhibition offers opportunities for discovering public architectural features and galleries throughout the newly expanded building. Spanning sculpture, audio and video installation and performance pieces made since 2000, the show takes its point of departure from key works in the media arts collection. The presentation highlights past SFMOMA commissions by such artists as Brian Eno and Bill Fontana, as well as new and diverse work from over 20 contemporary artists, including Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Camille Norment, O Grivo and Amalia Pica, among others. Soundtracks is accompanied by a map and an online catalogue.
Select pieces address the association of “soundtracks” with film scores in unexpected ways, while others take various approaches to visualizing the relationship between sound and space. Susan Philipsz’s Night and Fog (Clarinet) (2016) deconstructs an existing soundtrack by Hanns Eisler for Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog) (1956), a documentary about Holocaust concentration camps by Alain Resnais. In this piece—which has been adapted for SFMOMA and is accompanied by a series of photographs of the artist’s breath—12 speakers emit different tones played by a clarinet, based on when the wind instrument appears in the score. Ragnar Kjartansson’s video installation The Visitors (2012) explores architectural space as well as the space between people. Eight musicians, each recorded alone in a different room within a mansion, collaborate in a performance of the same song. In Christina Kubisch’s sound sculpture Cloud (2011), a tangle of red wiring uses electromagnetic induction to make electrical fields audible to visitors through specially-designed headphones.
Soundtracks is co-curated by Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts, and Tanya Zimbardo, assistant curator of media arts.