tag archives: de young museum

do you dream in technicolor or in black & white?

if you are like artist david hockney, then the answer is both.

david hockney:  a bigger exhibition, is showing at the de young museum in san francisco, CA from 26 october 2013-20 january 2014.

the exhibition is enormous.  it features over 300 works, shown in 18,000 square feet of gallery space, making it the biggest exhibition in the history of the de young museum.  even bigger than david hockney RA:  a bigger picture, where i first saw hockney’s technicolor landscape paintings at the royal academy of arts in london during 2012.  the san francisco show includes many of the paintings from a bigger picture.

david hockney | the arrival of spring in woldgate, east yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 2 january | one of 52 iPad drawings printed on paper | 2011

david hockney RA: a bigger picture | 21 jan-9 apr 2012 | royal academy of arts | london, united kingdom

photo credit the royal academy of arts | (c) david hockney

but, the san francisco show also includes new work, which has never been exhibited or published before.

since a bigger picture, hockney suffered a stroke, lost a studio assistant, and relocated to his los angeles, CA studio.  during his recovery, he began drawing with charcoal on paper.  during this period, hockney revisited many of the locations from the arrival of spring in woldgate, east yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), a series of 52 iPad drawings.  the arrival of spring in 2013, a series of 25 charcoal drawings, will be showcased in one gallery of the de young museum during the exhibition.

hockney’s charcoal drawings have been described as more detailed, and more defined than his previous work.

‘i’m very proud of them, actually, very proud. i think it’s one of my great works, this, the 25 drawings.’

-david hockney

david hockney | woldgate, 6-7 february | from the arrival of spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen) | charcoal on paper | 2013

david hockney: a bigger exhibition | 26 oct 2013-20 jan 2014 | de young museum | san francisco, CA

photo credit richard schmidt | (c) 2013 david hockney

during his recovery, hockney also began drawing charcoal portraits of colleagues, friends, and family members.  hockney prefers drawing people that he knows.

‘if you know them well, you’ve got different memories of them…we all see with memory, don’t we?’

-david hockney

his most recent portraits are painted with acrylic paint in swimming pool colors.  since hockney has not worked in acrylic paint for over 20 years, to him, it seems like a new medium.  in addition to approximately 40 recent charcoal drawings, the de young exhibition also features 14 recent acrylic portraits.

david hockney in his los angeles, CA studio with works from his upcoming exhibition at the de young museum in san francisco, CA

photo credit financial times

during 2012-2013, david hockney RA:  a bigger picture attracted over 600,000 visitors in london.  and, a combined total of 1.2 million visitors at the royal academy in london, the guggenheim museum in bilbao, spain, and the museum ludwig in cologne, germany.

could the san francisco show be a bigger exhibition?

click here or here or here to read more about david hockney’s recent work.

click here to read my previous post about david hockney RA:  a bigger picture.

richard diebenkorn may be best known for his ocean park paintings and drawings…

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #140 | oil on canvas | 1985

the last large scale painting in the ocean park cycle

deibenkorn created the ocean park cycle in santa monica, CA from 1967-1988

photo credit art in the studio

or, for his cityscapes…

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | cityscape, landscape 1 | oil on canvas | 1963

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation

along with joan mitchell and helen frankenthaler, richard diebenkorn is one of my favorite post-war american artists.

 so, of course we attended the preview of richard diebenkorn:  the berkeley years-1953-1966, an exhibition of over 130 works that opened at the de young museum in san francisco, CA on 22 june 2013.  my husband, bob, and i enjoyed the exhibition so much that we are going back to see it again before it closes on 29 september 2013.

diebenkorn’s work is often grouped into periods according to where he lived because his location often inspired his work.  diebenkorn lived in berkeley, CA from 1953 until 1966, when he moved to santa monica, CA.  although diebenkorn’s berkeley period paintings and drawings established him as an abstract artist, his berkeley period actually included two phases:  an abstract phase from 1953-1956, followed by a representational phase from 1955-1967.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #3 | oil on canvas | 1953

fine art museums of san francisco (famsf) | san francisco, CA

photo credit famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #5 | oil on canvas | 1953

private collection

photo credit christie’s

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #7 | oil on canvas | 1953

mildred lane kemper art museum | washington university | st louis, MO

photo credit kemper art museum

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #8 | oil on canvas | 1954

north carolina museum of art (ncma) | raleigh, NC

photo credit ncma

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #12 | oil on canvas | 1954

the phillips collection | washington, DC

photo credit the phillips collection

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #15 | oil on canvas | 1954

new mexico museum of art | santa fe, NM

photo credit new mexico museum of art

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #19 | oil on canvas | 1954

university of arizona museum of art (uama) | tuscon, AZ

photo credit uama

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #22 | oil on canvas | 1954

hirshorn museum and sculpture garden | smithsonian institution | washington, DC

photo credit hirshorn museum and sculpture garden

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #33 | oil on canvas | 1954

private collection

photo credit wikipaintings

‘what i was really up to in painting, 

what i enjoyed exclusively, was altering-

changing what was before me-

by way of subtracting 

or juxtaposition 

or superimposition

of different ideas.’

-richard diebenkorn

diebenkorn composed berkeley #23 in 1954, and then reworked it in 1955.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #23 | oil on canvas | 1955

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit sfmoma | (c) richard diebenkorn foundation

in 1957, articles in ARTnews* and LIFE magazines expanded diebenkorn’s national reputation as an abstract artist.

‘look of the west inspires new art’ | LIFE magazine | november 4, 1957 | page 67

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #44 | oil on canvas | 1955

private collection

photo credits google books and famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation
but, by then, his work was shifting from abstraction to representation.  diebenkorn described chabot valley, painted in 1955, as his first representational landscape painting.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | chabot valley | oil on canvas | 1955

collection of christopher diebenkorn

photo credit wikipaintings

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | coffee | oil on canvas | 1959

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit sfmoma | (c) richard diebenkorn foundation

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | bottles | oil on canvas | 1960

norton simon museum | pasadena, CA

photo credit norton simon museum | (c) 2008 estate of richard diebenkorn

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | interior with doorway | oil on canvas | 1962

pennsylvania academy of the fine arts (pafa) | philadelphia, PA

photo credit pafa

interior with view of buildings combines the four major themes of diebenkorn’s berkeley period representational work:  landscapes, figures, still life, and interiors.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | interior with view of buildings | oil on canvas | 1962

cincinnati art museum | cincinnati, OH

photo credit cincinnati art museum
in 1964, the US state department invited diebenkorn to visit the soviet union on a cultural exchange grant.  while visiting the soviet union, he saw the extraordinary matisse collections at the pushkin state museum of fine arts in moscow and the state hermitage museum in leningrad, which were then inaccessible to most of the world.  even though this was not the artist’s first exposure to the work of henri matisse,** this experience influenced his late berkeley period drawings and paintings, which incorporated matisse-like decorative patterns, saturated colors, flat picture planes, and geometric compositions.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | recollections of a visit to leningrad | oil on canvas | 1965

private collection

diebenkorn also saw the henri matisse. retrospective 1966. exhibition at the university of california, los angeles (ucla) art gallery.

henri matisse (1869-1954) | zulma | gouache and cut and pasted paper | 1950

statens museum for kunst (smk) | copenhagen, denmark

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled (yellow collage) | gouache and cut and pasted paper | 1966

collection of gretchen and richard grant

photo credits smk | (c) succession h. matisse/billedkunst copydan 2012 and famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation

does diebenkorn’s late berkeley period work seem like a transition from representation to abstraction?

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #19 | oil on canvas | 1968

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit sfmoma | (c) richard diebenkorn foundation

notes to myself on beginning a painting:

1. attempt what is not certain. certainty may or may not come later. it may then be a valuable delusion.

2. the pretty, initial position, which falls short of completeness, is not to be valued-except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. do search. but in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. use and respond to the initial fresh qualities, but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. don’t ‘discover’ a subject-of any kind.

6. somehow don’t be bored-but if you must, use it in action. use its destructive potential.

7. mistakes can’t be erased, but they move you from your present position.

8. keep thinking about polyanna.

9. tolerate chaos.

10. be careful only in a perverse way. 

-richard diebenkorn

click here to read my previous post about richard diebenkorn.

*’diebenkorn paints a picture’, ARTnews, volume 56 number 3, may 1957, pages 44-47, 54-55.

**in 1952, diebenkorn saw the matisse retrospective, organized by alfred barr for the museum of modern art in new york, NY, at the municipal art gallery in los angeles, CA.

girl with a pearl earring, the famous johannes vermeer (1632-1675) painting, also known as the dutch mona lisa’, is making a rare appearance at the de young museum in san francisco from 26 january-2 june 2013.

the exhibition, girl with a pearl earring:  dutch paintings from the mauritshuis, features 35 paintings from mauritshuis, the royal picture gallery in the hague, netherlands.  the dutch museum is currently undergoing a two year renovation.

after san francisco, the exhibition travels to the the high museum of art in atlanta from 22 june-29 september 2013, followed by the frick collection in new york from 22 october 2013-12 january 2014.

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | girl with a pearl earring | oil on canvas | 18.75″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1667 | mauritshuis | the hague, netherlands

photo credit mauritshuis

when the exhibition traveled to tokyo and kobe, japan from june 2012-january 2013, about 1.2 million visitors viewed the painting.  art historians are unable to totally explain its popularity.

‘sometimes the questions are more intriguing because they can’t be answered. 

who was she?  what was she thinking?  what was her relationship to vermeer? 

the mystery is part of its popularity.’

-melissa buron, assistant curator, de young museum

art historians unanimously agree upon the attribution of thirty four paintings to vermeer, who is renowned for his mastery of color and light.

vermeer’s color palette differs slightly from the color palette of other 17th century dutch painters.  instead of azurite, which was significantly less expensive, vermeer used natural ultramarine blue paint pigment.  this difference explains the purity, brilliance, and radiance of ‘vermeer blue’.  natural ultramarine blue pigment was made from crushed lapis lazuli, a semi precious stone that was imported to the netherlands from afghanistan via venice.  to prepare the paint, the lapis lazuli stone was crushed into powder.  then, the powder was washed to remove the impurities.  next, the pigment was
suspended in the vehicle by mulling the powder into the oil.  finally, the natural ultramarine blue oil paint was mixed with some lead white to make it more workable.

lapis lazuli stones

photo credit essential vermeer

this difference also explains vermeer’s masterful rendering of light.  unlike other dutch painters from the golden age, vermeer mixed natural ultramarine blue pigment into grey oil paint, which usually only used lead white, bone black, or raw umber as coloring agents.  vermeer was able to capture the luminosity of natural daylight by using tones and shades of the ultramarine blue-grey paint to render highlights and shadows.

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the milkmaid | oil on canvas | 17.875″ x 16.125″ | c. 1658-1661 | the rijksmuseum | amsterdam, netherlands

vermeer highlighted the bread and the cloth with small dots that capture the luminosity of natural daylight

photo credits rijksmuseum and essential vermeer

the girl with a pearl earring is actually a tronie (face), instead of a portrait.   tronies are drawings or paintings of the head, face, or bust of an anonymous subject.  they are physiognomies, or studies of the subject’s external appearance, including their facial expression, type, or character.  during the 17th century, the term ‘turkish’ was used to describe exotic or foreign objects or garments.  so, it was not unusual for the subject of a tronie to be painted wearing ‘turkish’ garments, like the cloak and the turban worn by the girl with a pearl earring.

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | girl with a pearl earring | oil on canvas | 18.75″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1667 | mauritshuis | the hague, netherlands

photo credit mauritshuis

vermeer used broad brush strokes, a limited color palette, and the ‘wet-in-wet’ painting technique to simplify the folds of the turban.  he mixed the pigments directly on the canvas, painting the highlights in ultramarine blue mixed with lead white, and the shadows in pure ultramarine blue topped with blue glaze.

‘…vermeer painted everything with a cool, silvery palette and layered translucent oil glazes, dissolving all material reality with a pearl-like luminosity.’

-art historian robert baldwin

detail | turban

photo credit essential vermeer

vermeer only used three brush strokes to paint the teardrop shaped pearl earring.  a dark shadow suggests the shape of the pearl.  an opaque highlight on the front captures the luminosity and the luster.  and, a translucent highlight on the bottom captures the soft inner glow.

the painting was last restored in 1994.  during the restoration, art conservators removed a second opaque highlight from the bottom of the pearl after discovering that it was a flake of paint that adhered to the pearl during an earlier restoration.  the bottom of the pearl softly reflects the girl’s white undergarment once again.

detail | pearl earring

photo credit essential vermeer

eleven of the thirty four paintings attributed to vermeer, including the girl with a pearl earring, feature women with pearls.  so, in addition to blue, vermeer paintings are synonymous with pearls.

‘…vermeer’s beautiful women, ornamented with pearls, took on the familiar, pearl-like beauty of contemporary love lyrics where outer loveliness dissolved into an inner radiance.’

-art historian robert baldwin

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a maid asleep | oil on canvas | 34.5″ x 30.125″ | c. 1656-1657 | metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

detail | pearl earrings

photo credits metropolitan museum of art and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman holding a balance | oil on canvas | 16.75″ x 15″ | c. 1662-1665 | national gallery of art | washington, DC

detail | two strands of pearls

photo credits national gallery of art and national gallery of art

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman with a lute | oil on canvas | 20.25″ x 18″ | c. 1662-1664 | metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

detail | pearl earring and necklace

photo credits metropolitan museum of art

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman with a pearl necklace | oil on canvas | 21.625″ x 17.75″ | c. 1664 | staatliche museen zu berlin | berlin, germany

detail | pearl earring and necklace

photo credits essential vermeer and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a lady writing | oil on canvas | 17.75″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1666 | national gallery of art | washington, DC

detail | pearl earrings

photo credits national gallery of art and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the concert | oil on canvas | 28.5″ x 25.5″ | c. 1664-1667 | stolen from the isabella garner museum | boston, MA

detail | pearl earring and necklace

photo credits essential vermeer and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | study of a young woman | oil on canvas | 17.5″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1667 | metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

detail | pearl earring

photo credits metropolitan museum of art

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | mistress and maid | oil on canvas | 35.5″ x 31″ | c. 1666-1667 | the frick collection | new york, NY

detail | strand of pearls, pearl earring and necklace

photo credits the frick collection and the frick collection

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the guitar player | oil on canvas | 20.25″ x 18.25″ | c. 1670-1672 | kenwood house | hampstead, london, united kingdom

detail | pearl necklace

photo credits essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a young woman standing at a virginal | oil on canvas | 20.375″ x 17.25″ | c. 1670-1673 | national gallery | london, united kingdom

detail | pearl necklace

photo credits national gallery and essential vermeer

who is your favorite ‘girl with a pearl’?

girl with a pearl earring:  dutch paintings from the mauritshuis

de young museum | fine arts museums of san francisco

26 january-2 june 2013

photo credit famsf

almost a year ago, benjamin moore paints predicted that social media colors, like facebook blue and twitter green, would become some of the most directional colors for 2014.

click here to read my february 2012 post.

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now, color authority pantone, has named emerald green the color of the year for 2013.   pantone, a division of x-rite, provides professional color standards for the design industries.


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emerald green reminds me of the emerald green and grey dining room, designed by atlanta interior designer kay douglass.  the dining room was named one of veranda’s most memorable rooms for the magazine’s 25th anniversary,

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emerald green also reminds me of all of the georgian terrace houses with technicolor front doors in dublin, ireland.  my husband, bob, and i toured ireland with his parents while we lived in london.  living in london for five years was such an amazing european travel opportunity!

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now that we live in the san francisco bay area again, emerald green also reminds me of the de young museum in golden gate park, which was designed by swiss architects herzog & de meuron.  herzog & de meuron covered the museum building in copper panels with a perforated pattern that resembles the pattern of the light filtering through the trees.  the panels are developing a green patina that also helps the building blend into the natural environment.

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san francisco philanthropist and socialite, dede wilsey, was instrumental in raising more that $190 million in private funding and selecting the architects for the reconstruction of the de young museum, which was damaged during the loma prieta earthquake in 1989.  she is also renowned for her incredible harry winston emerald and diamond jewelry.

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do you associate emerald green with anything incredible?