Now that we got the essentials out of the way in yesterday’s post, it’s time to see some art! As I previously warned, I don’t suggest you try to see everything in 1 day. There are 7 floors of art, so I suggest that you pick 3 and spend some quality time with the collections.
With tongue firmly in cheek, I came up three tours depending on what you might like to see:
1. The Traditionalist
2. The Naturalist
3. The Iconoclast
For those of you who missed the permanent collection on the 2nd floor of the original SFMOMA (the Old SFMOMA), you are in luck because it remains in tact with selections from the permanent collection on view in the old Botta Building.
Floors 5 & 6 will give you a good overview of the Fisher Collection. The 5th floor features Pop, Minimal and Figurative art, while the 6th has a large collection of German artists. This floor also has a stunning 2001 Shirin Neshat video installation called Passage, scored by Philip Glass.
Sculpture and Photography are the focus of this tour. I suggest you start off by taking the stairs from the 2nd floor Lobby entrance off Howard Street to the 3rd floor installation of “California and the West”. This exhibition features photographic works obtained from the Campaign for Art. My favorites were a series of prints by Jim Goldberg called “Rich and Poor”. A precursor to the famed Humans of New York, this series cracks the artistic firewall between photographer and subject as Goldberg gave his subjects a voice to tell their own stories of poverty and wealth. Their observations are raw, personal and surprising. I was captivated by each photograph.
The Alexander Calder Motion Lab on the 3rd floor leads to an outdoor sculpture terrace featuring a tall, multi story living wall. The terrace is a breezy, airy respite from the crowds and the art.
Floors 4 and 5 will provide looks at more sculpture in addition to a robust collection of Ellsworth Kelly. Be sure to check out the Oculus Bridge for an interesting vantage point of another Calder that hangs above the Botta lobby off 3rd St.
For those of you who want to start and stop with Contemporary art, head straight to the 7th Floor using the Silver elevators (for some reason there are 2 separate banks of elevators that lead to different floors). Here you will find works by David Hammons, Glenn Ligon, Mark Bradford, Mark Grotjahn and Jeff Koons. This was personally my favorite floor because I love David Hammons’ Basketball Drawings. The Conservation wing tucked into the back of this floor is a large open space with incredible views. From a curator’s viewpoint, the 7th floor appears to be the most versatile. Windows can be covered with movable panels to display more art and the architects left the ceiling exposed in an attempt to make the space less formal.
After the 7th floor, head down to the 5th floor for sculptural works by Anish Kapoor and Richard Long. This floor also features gallery space dedicated to Andy Warhol and Chuck Close. My 3rd tour ends on the 3rd floor for an immersive, interpretive experience at the Photography Interpretive Gallery which is part of the Pritzker Center for Photography.
After all of that you may need a cortado or an espresso from the Sightglass coffee bar located adjacent from the Interpretive Gallery. The S.F. based coffee roaster has set up a new outpost here boasting the perfect cup of coffee.
No trip to SFMOMA would be complete without a visit to their museum store and I would highly recommend the newly expanded store on the 1st floor. I’m kicking myself for not buying a Lumio Lamp!
Lest you think every inch of this museum is sheer perfection, I must admit there were some missed opportunities and some functional flaws in the space that will likely lead to some awkward moments in art… My 3rd SFMOMA installment will provide you with some caveats and my final thoughts on the new space!