Sunday, October 13, 2013

Yerba Buena Gallery Walk, Fall 2013

The Yerba Buena Gallery Walk happened to coincide with the Alternative Press Expo (APE) this year. Had a great time catching up with everybody at APE, and only had time to catch 3 exhibits.

The California Historical Society (I am so glad they are doing exhibits again!) has a very fascinating show up, Unbuilt San Francisco, featuring architectural models and drawings of proposed projects that were never constructed. How different SF could have been. There were models of a proposed SF Ballet Center near Yerba Buena Gardens, a scale model of the giant foot that was proposed as a permanent public piece on the waterfront, and many others. The one that held me spellbound was a gorgeous 1897 Willis Polk drawing of the Ferry Building with an arch (think Washington Square, NY) and a peristyle, leading to a grand Rococo fountain in the courtyard. How different would it have been to have this at the foot of Market Street.

Down the street at 111 Minna, the Astronomical Menagerie of Alec Huxley was on display. I was amused by the overall idea of space helmeted figures in various combinations with animals, but I really loved the painting below.

All I've Ever Known is True. Alec Huxley.
I concluded my quick tour at Modernism on Market Street, where they had the collage work of Jacques Villegle. In what seemed to me an unusual move for this gallery, they gave over both their front (main) space and their long back space to the same artist. The collages were large and colorful, and I enjoyed seeing them.

Boulevard Haussmann. Jacques Villegle. From Theatre, Cinema, Music-Hall.

Sex Sells Culture

A fascinating article in today's New York Times Style section, With Money Tight, Museums Take it Off, about several major European arts institutions mounting what could be considered risky exhibitions focusing on sex and nudes, expecting and getting blockbuster numbers.

The museums mentioned, the British Museum, Musee Jacquemart-Andre and the Musee d'Orsay all have deep collections of classical sculpture and paintings with erotic or semi-erotic content. The article is an interesting exploration of the marketing, financial and cultural considerations behind these shows. I think it's interesting, given the amount of porn that is easily available, that people still flock to these exhibitions. Why? Appreciation of an idealized figure is almost universal. Maybe it's the fantasy aspect or insight into the the tastes of other eras. I'm sure these shows would be a big hit in the US too.

Below is the video for the Musee d'Orsay's Masculin/Masculin (Warning male frontal nudity). Stay to the end to see model and paintings side by side. The tableau of Mercury and Paris at the end was also used in commercials and posters.

See also: Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art at the British Museum, and Desirs et Volupte: Victorian Masterpieces at the Jacquemart-Andre.