Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Looking ahead at 2017 in the museums

Fine Arts

"The Birth of Venus" (2014) by Roz Chast. Cover illustration for The New Yorker, Aug. 4, 2014. Watercolor and ink on paper. On view April 27-Sept. 3, 2017, at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy Danese/Corey, New York; Roz Chast
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2017 has barely gotten off the ground, but it's already shaping up to be a dynamic year at local museums. Take a look.

The GLBT History Museum Beartoonist of San Francisco: Sketching an Emerging Subculture features cartoonist Fran Frisch in a playful exploration of the history of the city's bear community, which, beginning in the 1980s, celebrated older masculine men of the burly, huggable, hairy variety. (Jan. 27 through May)

Contemporary Jewish Museum Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show, the New York-based gay artist's first career survey, promises to be more imaginative than its title. Working in a variety of media and blending wicked comedy, neurosis and an obsession with popular culture, Leibowitz, a.k.a. "Candyass," mines sexual identity, therapy tropes, self-loathing and being Jewish – wait, aren't these last two the same? (Jan. 26-June 25) Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs contains original artwork, children's book illustrations, Ukrainian character eggs and storytelling rugs by the veteran New Yorker magazine cartoonist. (April 27-Sept. 3)

Asian Art Museum Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty showcases recently unearthed relics, such as a ceramic urinal and a pair of bronze phalluses buried underground for 2,000 years, from a technologically innovative civilization awash in luxury. (Feb. 17-May 28) Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs, a trove of 30 rare paintings, military artifacts, textiles and photographs, reveals the complex history of the South Asian religious community. (March 10-June 4)

SFMOMA's treat-packed schedule starts this month with Diane Arbus: In the Beginning, which explores the first seven years (1957-62) of the seminal photographer's career, a lesser-known, formative period when she created nearly half the images printed during her brief lifetime. (Jan. 21-April 30) Through more than 100 paintings and drawings, Matisse/Diebenkorn traces the lifelong impact of Henri Matisse on Diebenkorn, who initially encountered the French master's work when he attended Stanford. (March 11- May 29) Edvard Munch, a controversial, psychologically driven, some might say tortured artist, was a late bloomer whose breakthrough didn't arrive until he reached the ripe old age of 50. Ergo, his startling late paintings serve as a point of departure for Between the Clock and the Bed, a reassessment of his work. (June 24-Oct. 9) The museum's Pritzker Center for Photography will be jumping with two shows featuring distinctive American artists: Here and Home includes early conceptual and collaborative projects and documentary-style images from the late California photographer Larry Sultan (April 15-July 23), while the far-ranging Walker Evans: A Vernacular Style aims to be the definitive retrospective of work by a giant of the medium. (Sept. 23-Feb. 24)

Cuirass Torso (reconstruction), Acropolis. 460 B.C.E. (2005). Artificial marble. From Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, coming to the Legion of Honor, Oct. 28-Jan. 7, 2017. Photo: Stiftung Archäologie, Munich

Legion of Honor This is going to be a very happy year indeed for fans of Impressionism, which only the hardest hearts can resist, with two exhibitions highlighting a pair of undisputed masters. Monet: The Early Years assembles 60 pre-Impressionist paintings (1858-72) when the artist's techniques and visual vocabulary were considered radical (Feb. 25-May 29), while Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade emphasizes Degas' intense interest in millinery – he was reportedly a natty dresser – and the Parisian working women who made them, complemented by pastels and paintings by Renoir, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Cassatt, and a bevy of fashionable period hats. (June 24-Sept. 24) Curator Renee Dreyfus brings a wealth of scholarship and insight to Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, which examines polychromy, a prevalent practice in ancient cultures of painting sculptures in dazzling colors that often faded after millennia of exposure to the elements. (Oct. 28-Jan. 7)

Mural fragment with warrior bird, 6th century AD. Earthen aggregate, lime plaster, and mineral pigments. Coming to Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire at the de Young Museum. Photo: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

de Young Museum In 1967, nearly 100,000 people descended on Haight-Ashbury, many of them in altered states. That was 50 years ago, and now comes Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll, an exhibition that should be a balm for nostalgic baby boomers. (April 8-Aug. 20) Stuart Davis: In Full Swing spotlights the jazz-infused, advertising-inflected, Matisse-influenced, quintessentially "on-the-move" American art by this modernist painter. (April 1-Aug. 6) Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire shows off the latest discoveries from the Sun, Moon and Feathered Serpent pyramids in Mexico. (Sept. 30-Feb. 11)

YBCA Civic Radar, the first U.S. retrospective of the output of Lynn Hershman Leeson, shines a light on a versatile Bay Area feminist, experimental filmmaker, photographer and interactive media and performance artist who has employed cutting-edge technologies to probe issues of identity, the vulnerabilities of women and surveillance. (Feb. 10-May 21)

Oakland Museum Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest A charter member of the Northern California Funk and Nut art movements of the 1960s, De Forest's trippy, gently humorous, large-scale paintings and sculptures open portals to comical fantasylands where canines rule and dogs are the best people we know. (April 29-Aug. 20) Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing views the photographer's imagery, whether of Dust Bowl migrants and other casualties of the Great Depression or the grim fate of Japanese Americans unjustly interned in camps in WWII, through a social-advocacy lens. (May 13-Aug. 13)

BAMPFA Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia looks at the intersection – or was it a collision? – of art, architecture, design, pharmacology, spirituality, alternative lifestyles, and ecology in the context of the 1960s and early 70s counterculture. Film programs, experimental furniture, and media environments reflecting the era's zeitgeist are on view. (Feb. 8-May 21)


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