A Chinese activist artist, a legendary fashion designer who dressed movie stars and first ladies, and a sublime beauty from the High Renaissance are slated for shows at Sacramento and Bay Area museums in 2016.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect.
Crocker Art Museum
Ai Wei Wei Circle of Animals: Zodiac Heads - Jan. 24 to May 1: Internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei takes over the courtyard of the Crocker with a display of 12 monumental, bronze zodiac animal heads. Created on an oversized scale, these contemporary versions of 18th-century zodiac animals from a fountain-clock at China’s Old Summer Palace outside Beijing extend Ai’s ongoing exploration of Chinese art and identity.
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Andy Warhol: Portraits - Sunday, March 13-Sunday, June 19: Portraits of Jackie Kennedy, Truman Capote, Judy Garland and Sylvester Stallone are included in a Crocker show that reveals Warhol’s lifelong fascination with celebrity and the art of portraiture. Featuring 168 works from early fashion sketches to Warhol’s revolutionary use of media images, the show, organized by the Andy Warhol Museum, reveals the power of a Warhol portrait and demonstrates how the artist transformed this genre into the status symbol of an era.
216 O St., Sacramento, (916) 808-7000, www.crockerartmuseum.org
De Young Museum
Printed Stories - Saturday, Jan. 16-Sunday, July 10: “Printed Stories” offers a selection of modern and contemporary prints from the Anderson Collection of Graphic Arts into which narratives – intentional or not – might be read. Artists featured include Christopher Brown, David Gilhooly, Saul Steinberg, Nathan Oliveira and Vija Celmins.
Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective - Saturday, March 12-Friday, May 20: This world-premiere exhibition celebrates the life and career of one of fashion’s most influential designers. It includes more than 130 ensembles produced over five decades and traces de la Renta’s career from its beginnings in Spain, his formative years in legendary fashion houses, and his role as designer for influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, (415) 750-3600, www.famsf.org
Legion of Honor
Sublime Beauty: Raphael’s “Portrait of a Lady With a Unicorn” – Tuesday, Jan. 19-Sunday, April 10: Presented in the United States for the first time, this exhibition features one of Renaissance artist Raphael’s most beguiling and enigmatic paintings. On loan from the Villa Borghese in Rome, the painting epitomizes the beauty of Raphael’s portraits of women. The show explores the identity of the sitter, the symbolism of the unicorn, and the stylistic relationship between this early 16th-century masterpiece and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”
Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia - Feb. 6 to May 15: The Legion of Honor is the exclusive U.S. venue for the first major international presentation of Bonnard’s work to be mounted on the West Coast in half a century. The show includes approximately 75 works that span the French artist’s career and celebrate Bonnard (1867-1947) as one of the defining figures of modernism in the period between Impressionism and Abstraction.
Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement Street), San Francisco, (415) 750-3600, www.famsf.org
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
SFMOMA’s new expanded building opens May 14. Until then, go to the museum’s website for information about off-site exhibitions and events.
151 Third St., San Francisco, (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org
Asian Art Museum
Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts - Feb. 26 to May 8: Explore three cosmopolitan Islamic empires and the personal relationships that fueled artistic creation in the 16th through 18th centuries. Each section of the show centers on a protagonist from a different century and empire: the writer in 16th-century Mughal India, the painter in 17th-century Savafid Iran and the patron in 18th-century Ottoman Turkey. The show features 65 art works including manuscripts, paintings, jeweled objects, sculpture, textiles and metal work.
Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art - March 4 to May 8: The museum’s 50th-anniversary show explores gold’s physical and symbolic qualities through a selection of pieces from the museum’s magnificent collection, including a gold embroidered Korean bridal robe, a beautiful gold-leafed Thai manuscript and an opulent Qing dynasty screen illuminated with gold. There’s even a large raw nugget saluting California’s Gold Rush.
200 Larkin St., San Francisco, (415) 581-3500, www.asianart.org
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Roman Vishniac Rediscovered - Thursday, Feb. 11 to Sunday, May 29: Organized by the International Center of Photography, New York, the exhibition focuses on Vishniac (1897-1990), a versatile and innovative photographer who created the most widely recognized photographic record of Jewish life in Eastern Europe between the two world wars.
Bill Graham and the Rock and Roll Revolution - Thursday, March 17 to Tuesday, July 5: Organized by the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, the show explores the life of rock promoter Bill Graham (1931-91) from his childhood as a German Jewish refugee to his pivotal role in making rock music a multibillion-dollar global industry.
730 Mission St., San Francisco, (415) 655-7800, email@example.com
Berkeley Art Museum
The museum’s new building will open to the public with a free admission day Sunday, Jan. 31.
Architecture of Life - Sunday, Jan. 31 to Sunday, May 29: The new museum’s inaugural exhibition explores the way architecture illuminates aspects of life experience through 250 works of art, architectural drawings and models, and scientific illustrations.
2155 Center St. (between Shattuck and Oxford), Berkeley, (510) 642-0808, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu
Oakland Museum of California
Unearthed: Found + Made - through Sunday, April 24: This innovative exhibition intermixes works by Oakland-born, Los Angeles-based artist Jedediah Caesar, who imitates geological processes in the making of his sculptures, with objects from two Oakland amateur clubs devoted to the art of suiseki – a traditional Japanese practice of carefully collecting, appreciating, and displaying stones from nature on carved wooden platforms.
1000 Oak St., Oakland, (510) 318-8400, www.museumca.org