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Fall art preview: Northern California museum shows shine

Published: Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am

Artists from the East Coast of the United States, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden and France will be celebrated in shows at the Crocker Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. There will be much to savor in the following shows:

Kara Walker – Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento, (916) 808-7000, Sunday-Jan. 5

As an African American woman, Walker (who was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people) is keenly aware of the paradoxes of race in today’s society. She has made slavery and its ongoing impact the subject of her visual critique of power, merging romance for the antebellum era with the bitter reality of slavery. Using the technique of silhouette, she imbues an antiquated medium with new power in her invented tales of plantation life. Featuring 60 works from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the show includes wall paintings, works on paper, and recent work in new media. With humor and wit, Walker addresses the subject of race 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Julie Heffernan – Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento, (916) 808-7000, Oct. 20-Jan. 26

Known for her romantic fantasies centered on portraits of herself in various guises, Heffernan uses the conventions of historical European painting in her seductive and often dark-edged narratives about self, society and our imperiled environment. Large in concept and scale, her paintings offer lavish twists and turns, pulling us into the visual space in a filmic manner. Raised in San Francisco, Heffernan maintains close ties to California and is a graduate of University of California, Santa Cruz, and Yale University School of Art. Organized by the Palo Alto Art Center, the show features 14 large-scale examples of her singular work.

The Art of Bulgari 1950-1990 – de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Drive, San Francisco, (415) 750-3800, Saturday-Feb. 17

Founded in Rome in 1884, Bulgari is famous for mixing semi-precious stones with diamonds, mounting ancient coins in gold jewelry, and creating easy-to-wear pieces in unusual color combinations. Focusing on the decades of the 1950s through the 1980s, the show traces the development of a unique style inspired by Greco-Roman Classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and the 19th century Roman school of goldsmiths. Approximately 150 show-stopping pieces are included along with sketches and other archival materials, with a particular emphasis on important American clients including Elizabeth Taylor.

David Hockney – de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Drive, San Francisco, (415) 750-3800, Oct. 26-Jan. 20

From Polaroid cameras to the iPhone, famed British artist Hockney, who is in his 70s, is renowned for using new technologies in his art. This show highlights his Photoshop portraits, digital videos of changing seasons and bright landscapes using the iPad, while also including more traditional media such as oil painting, charcoal drawings and watercolors. Landscapes picture scenes of rural England as well as ones of California, Iceland and Norway. The portraits of friends, colleagues and family reveal the artist’s personal and intimate relations with his sitters. Grand in scope and scale, many of the works in the exhibition are of monumental proportions. Consisting of more that 300 works in 18,000 square feet of gallery space, this is the largest show in the history of the de Young.

Matisse from SFMOMA - Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., San Francisco, (415) 750-3800, Nov. 9- Sept. 7

This intimate exhibition features 23 paintings, drawings, and bronzes from the internationally acclaimed collection of works by Henri Matisse at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as four works from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s own Matisse holdings. Tracing four decades of the artist’s career, from early still lifes to richly patterned and brightly colored figure paintings of the 1920s and 1930s, the show celebrates the Bay Area’s longstanding enthusiasm for this modern master.

Anders Zorn — Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., San Francisco, (415) 750-3800, Nov. 9-Feb. 2

Sweden’s master painter, Anders Zorn (1880-1920) was one of the most famous living artists at the turn of the 20th century. His bravura paintings, watercolors and etchings dazzled the art world of his day. Traveling to Spain and Algeria, he painted virtuoso watercolors inspired by the intense color and light of those settings. In Paris, he painted modern life as did the Impressionists, and in America he rivaled John Singer Sargent as the most sought-after portrait painter. At home in Sweden, he captured native fold culture and the beauty of the Nordic landscape. Featuring more than 90 rarely seen works, this major retrospective promises to reveal his mastery to new generations of art lovers.

Proximities — Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, (415) 581-3500, through Feb. 23.

In this three-part exhibition, some of the Bay Area’s most exciting contemporary artists respond to the question: What is Asia? Subjects addressed include landscapes imagined and real, family and community, and trade and commerce. Curated by Glen Helfand (who judged Axis Gallery’s national show this year), the exhibit focuses on the different ways artists here perceive Asia.

Read more articles by Victoria Dalkey

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