Geneva Anderson digs into art

Call it a Gift, Call it a Loan, the Fisher Collection shines at SFMOMA

Chuck Close, Agnes, 1998; oil on canvas; 102 x 84 inches; The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at SFMOMA; ©Chuck Close, courtesy PaceWildenstein, NY; photo: Ellen Page Wilson

Times flies.  In the last days of our glorious Indian summer, a subtle reminder.  If you haven’t seen the spectacular show “Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection,” you should:  its three-month run ends Sunday, September 19, 2010.   This is one of the largest exhibitions SFMOMA has mounted and it is the lynchpin of its 75th anniversary program, representing the museum’s latest coup—a novel partnership that will secure its place among an elite handful of the world’s contemporary art museums.   The show presents 161 of the 1,100 artworks in the iconic collection that the late Gap founder Donald Fisher collected with his wife Doris over 40 years and essentially loaned to SFMOMA for a very long time.   The details are still being worked out but a Fisher Family trust will own the works; a Fisher family foundation will interface with SFMOMA; and SFMOMA will house the collection for the next 100 years in its new museum-addition, thereby accessing one of the greatest private collections of modern and contemporary art in the world.  

The enthusiasm is well-deserved— the Fisher collection is a private collection like no other, with a breadth and depth that is rarely achieved.  It is particularly distinguished for its concentration of works by key artists Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Philip Guston, Ellsworth Kelly, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol.    It includes extensive groupings of seminal pieces by several of these artists and traces their creative evolution through entire bodies of works. Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, has done an exceptional job of showcasing this sampling over the 4th and 5th floors of the museum and the rooftop garden.  

As SFMOMA director Neal Benezra put it, “This is the culmination of decades.  Of course, they had money and used it well, but money and enthusiasm don’t always lead to something of real substance.  Don was very active on the SFMOMA board for years along with Doris and now their son Robert.  They watched and participated and donated several significant pieces prior to this, demonstrating a strong commitment to contemporary art….This is just the beginning;  there’s much more to come.”  

Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, through Sunday, September, 19, 2010.   151 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA, (415) 357-4000.  Closed Wednesdays.  Adults: $18.


September 15, 2010 - Posted by | Art, SFMOMA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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