John Singer Sargent, Ansel Adams and Kehinde Wiley will be subjects of new exhibitions at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco next year, the institution announced Thursday, Nov. 3.
“Sargent and Spain” is scheduled to open Feb. 11 at the Legion of Honor, the exclusive West Coast venue for the exhibition. The show, on view through May 14, is expected to focus on the influence of Spanish culture on the American painter, known for his society portraiture in the latter half of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries. Among his most famous works is the 1884-85 painting “Portrait of Madame X,” which has taken on a pop culture fascination of its own.
An expatriate, Sargent visited Spain seven times between 1879 and 1912, and his passion for the country resulted in the body of work to be explored at the Legion. Organized by the National Gallery of Art and curated in San Francisco by Emma Acker, the museums’ associate curator of American art, the exhibition includes oils, watercolors, works on paper and never-exhibited photographs of Spain from Sargent’s personal collection.
Sargent’s Spanish landscapes as well as works on people and architecture will also be making their debut in this exhibition, to be presented in the context of the Legion’s Spanish collection, which includes works by Goya and El Greco.
On March 18, “Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence” comes to the de Young Museum for its U.S. premiere after being on view at the Venice Biennale. This installation of new paintings and sculptures by the African American artist, on view through Oct. 25, was created in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd in 2020. The work expands on the artist’s 2008 series “Down,” inspired by Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting “The Dead Christ in the Tomb” (1521-1522).
Wiley, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has long made exploring and reinterpreting the iconography of Western art a cornerstone of his practice, especially through the reconceptualization of American monuments in his work.
“Unearthing the haunting toll of police violence in Black communities around the world using the classical visual language of the dying hero, Wiley’s work stimulates critical discussion around the legacies of colonialism,” FAMSF director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell, who saw the work on view in Venice, told The Chronicle.
Wiley was most recently featured at the de Young this summer in the “Obama Portraits Tour,” with his painting of former President Barack Obama. Claudia Schmuckli will be the presenting curator for the exhibition in San Francisco.
In the world of photography, “Ansel Adams in Our Time” debuts at the de Young Museum on April 8.
The San Francisco-born photographer had his first museum exhibition at the de Young in 1932. Now, more than 100 of his works return to the museum through July 23, augmented by work from 23 contemporary artists who share the wildlife preservationist’s deep environmental concern, like Catherine Opie, Richard Misrach, Trevor Paglen and Binh Danh.
The show was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in partnership with FAMSF, and will include new interpretive framing that will offer more context on Adams’ “deep local roots” in the Bay Area and California, said Lauren Palmor, associate curator of American art.
“A tireless advocate for the environment, Adams succeeded in deploying his photographs to positively influence how Americans viewed our precious natural resources,” Palmor added. “The Bay Area’s rich history of environmental activism makes the de Young an ideal place to re-evaluate Adams’s singular contribution to the way we envision the landscape and the urgency with which we must protect it.”
In addition to this programming for the new year, FAMSF also revealed its final new exhibition of 2022: “Paperworks: Fifteen Years of Acquisitions,” opening Dec. 17 at the Legion of Honor in a new gallery dedicated to the works held in the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts collection. Curated by the Achenbach’s Sarah Mackay and Karin Breuer, the show is expected to include acquisitions made between 2007 and 2022. It will be organized thematically into five sections — “Ecologies of Place, Dynamics of Power,” “Self and Identity,” “Vocabularies of Beauty” and “Process and Design” — and will be on view through June 25.
That same day at the de Young, the previously announced “Lhola Amira: Facing the Future” opens as the inaugural show of the museums’ new contemporary African art program curated by Natasha Becker.
De Young Museum: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. $15-$30. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F. 415-750-3600. www.deyoung.famsf.org
Legion of Honor: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesdays-Sunday. $15-$30. Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., S.F. 415-750-3600. www.famsf.org
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