You may have seen the movie, but in May you will have the opportunity to view the actual painting of the “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” which is making a rare visit to the United States and will be at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.
One of the world’s most beloved paintings is making one of its three U.S. stops in San Francisco and will be on display during the APA annual meeting in May. Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” is the star of an extensive exhibition of Dutch paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague that will be at the de Young Museum until June 2.
This world-famous painting can be seen at the de Young Museum during APA’s 2013 annual meeting. It is part of an exhibit that is traveling while its home gallery undergoes an extensive renovation.
The portrait of the jewel-adorned young woman is one of the exhibition’s paintings chosen to illustrate the heights to which Dutch culture, prosperity, and technological innovation reached in the 17th century. Four works by Rembrandt are also included in the exhibition.
“Girl With a Pearl Earring” is one of only 36 paintings by Vermeer known to exist and is widely considered to be his masterpiece. Though the details of Vermeer’s life remain a mystery, “the quiet grace and virtuoso technique evident in his paintings, and in particular his rendering of light, have placed him among the most important artists of the 17th century,” notes the museum’s Web site. The portrait is illustrative of art during Holland’s Golden Age, in which secular subjects replaced religious ones, and the focus was on the lives of ordinary Dutch citizens.
And an excellent complement to this exhibition is one titled “Rembrandt’s Century,” the centerpiece of which is a group of etchings by the Dutch master. His experiments in etching techniques influenced artists for centuries.
The de Young has been among the country’s most prominent art museums since its opening in 1894 and merits a visit even without the superstar painting of that young woman. In 2005, a new copper-clad de Young building opened that blends it better into the natural surroundings of its home in Golden Gate Park.
Two other special exhibitions that will be at the de Young during the May annual meeting also open up vistas on the art and culture of diverse regions of the globe. “Eye Level in Iraq: Photographs by Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson” present the works of the two American photojouralists who spent time in Iraq just before and after the American-led war effort in 2003. “Civilians, so often caught in the crossfire of conflict, are the primary subject in the extraordinary photographs of Alford and Anderson,” the museum notes. “They are approached not from a fixed military perspective, but from a more intimate point of view, one close to eye level.” Alford has said he hopes the photographs compel viewers to think more about “the relationships between public-policy objectives and their real-world execution….”
Also meriting a visit for those interested in the intersection of art and culture is “Objects of Belief From the Vatican: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.” The objects, which are on loan from the Vatican Ethnological Museum, “have been selected for their artistic and cultural significance and span more than four centuries and three continents.”
Just a few blocks from the Moscone Center, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, known to locals and art lovers everywhere as SFMOMA, opened in a new home in 1995 to great acclaim for its architecturally stunning new building as well as its vast collection of more than 27,000 works tracing the whole arc of modern art. With is unique brickwork, cylindrical turret, and soaring atrium, it gets much of the credit for spearheading the transformation of the city’s South of Market district from a rather grim collection of warehouses and rundown buildings into a popular destination filled with restaurants, shopping, and new residences.
Among the exhibitions that visitors can savor during the annual meeting in May is one titled “Don’t Be Shy, Don’t Hold Back,” featuring 40 important works from the 1960s to the 1990s honoring an extensive gift to the museum from collectors Vicki and Kent Logan. Among those with works on display are groundbreaking artists such as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Bruce Nauman.
A second exhibition highlights new works added to SFMOMA’s vast photography collection, emphasizing “the modernist tendency in photography from the mid-19th century to the present day,” an era in which “the camera introduced…a radical new way of seeing and communicating.”
The museum notes that its permanent collection is especially strong in works from all of the major art movements since 1900, including fauvism, cubism, pop art, abstract expressionism, and minimalism. ■
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