Arts & Theater

Art review: Fall preview of museum and gallery shows

Ruth Rippon’s ‘Woman in Hat.’
Ruth Rippon’s ‘Woman in Hat.’ Crocker Art Museum

A rich banquet of enticing shows awaits art lovers at Sacramento, Davis and San Francisco museums and galleries this fall.

Among the offerings are major shows of works by Richard Diebenkorn, Walker Evans, Robert Rauschenberg, Gustav Klimt and August Rodin, as well as surveys of 18th century Venetian drawings, Korean couture, and the ceramics of Ruth Rippon. An in-depth examination of the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan, a show of contemporary artists’ retellings of Jewish folktales, a display of Louise Bourgeois’ “Spiders,” and an exhibition celebrating John Cage’s first participatory composition round out the offerings.

Manetti Shrem Museum, UC Davis, Old Davis Road (across from the Mondavi Center), 530-750-8500.

“John Cage, 33 1/3,” Sept. 28 to Dec. 28

In viewing this new version of Cage’s first participatory composition, 33  1/3 , which debuted at UC Davis in 1969, the public is invited to play albums on turntables that fill the exhibition galleries in celebration of the improvisatory spirit that helped change the course of experimental music and art in the second half of the 20th century.

“Dimensions of Black,” Sept. 28 to Dec. 28

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art, the exhibition traces the legacy of UC San Diego’s MFA program with over 30 works drawn from the museums’ permanent collections by Robert Colescott, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems and others.

University Library Gallery, California State University, Sacramento, 6000 J St., 916-278-4189

Julia Couzens: “Last Words: An Installation,” Sept. 7 to Dec. 15

Often described as “an artist’s artist,” Julia Couzens’ drawings and hybrid objects have been shown in Belgium, India, Japan and across the United States. She works from both fine art and craft traditions in this moving installation that she describes as “a memorial, a memory of, an ode to the final words that we say.” (Full disclosure: Julia Couzens’ incisive art reviews appear in the Sacramento Bee on an irregular basis.)

Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento. 916-808-7000.

“Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings 1942-1955,” Oct. 8 to Jan. 7

Organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation in conjunction with the Crocker, this landmark exhibition is the first to focus solely on the work Diebenkorn made prior to his switch to figuration. One hundred works in oil, watercolor, gouache, ink, crayon and collage trace his evolution from early landscapes to surreal semi-abstractions to mature Abstract Expressionist works from the Sausalito, Albuquerque, N.M., Urbana, Ill., and Berkeley years.

“Exuberant Earth: Ceramics by Ruth Rippon,” Oct. 29 to Feb. 4

Ceramist, sculptor and educator Ruth Rippon, who turns 90 this year, is a seminal figure in the development of Northern California’s vibrant ceramic tradition. “Exuberant Earth” celebrates the diversity, virtuosity and strong personal vision of her work in clay through a wide range of vessels and sculptures from the 1950s through the 1990s. Those who know her work only by her magical, life-size clay and bronze figures at Pavilions and the UC Davis Medical Center will be surprised and delighted by the skill and creativity of the works in this show devoted to a true Sacramento treasure.

“Masters of Venice: Drawings by Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo,” Oct. 29 to Feb. 4

In the 18th century, Venice drew artists, aristocrats and princes with its unique architecture, vibrant culture and unusual light. Pre-eminent among the artists were Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Domenico. Twenty-one of their light-infused drawings with warm brown washes form the core of this gorgeous show, which also includes drawings by their predecessors and contemporaries from the Crocker collection.

M.H. de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 415-750-3600.

“Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire,” Sept. 30 to Feb. 11

The first major exhibition on the ancient Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacan in the United States in 20 years features more than 200 artifacts and works from one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Highlights of this historic show include recently excavated artifacts from the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, as well as objects from the Moon Pyramid and the Sun Pyramid, Teotihuacan’s three largest pyramids.

Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., San Francisco, 415-750-3600.

“Klimt and Rodin: An Artistic Encounter,” Oct. 14 to Jan. 28

Opening on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the deaths of Rodin in November 1917 and Klimt in February 1918, the show celebrates the legacies of two artists who broke the reigning aesthetic boundaries of the time to open the way to new vocabularies and agendas for modern painting and sculpture. The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see signature works by the Austrian master, Klimpt, in dialogue with the Legion’s acclaimed collection of Rodin works.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., San Francisco, 415-357-4000.

“Walker Evans,” Sept. 30 to Feb. 4

SFMOMA is the exclusive United States venue for this exhaustive retrospective of one of the preeminent photographers of the 20th century’s 50-year body of work. Featuring more than 300 vintage prints from the 1920s to the 1950s and more than 100 additional objects and documents, the show celebrates vernacular culture and the beauty of everyday life through Walker’s eyes.

“Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules,” Nov. 18 to March 25

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was one of the most inventive, influential and iconoclastic artists of the second half of the last century. His “Erased De Kooning Drawing, 1953” shook the foundations of Abstract Expressionism and pushed the limits of what art can be. A prime example of Rauschenberg’s irreverent, incisive work, it’s one of the highlights of this exclusive West Coast show that presents an in-depth look at key periods of the artist’s career.

“Louise Bourgeois: Spiders,” Sept. 23 to indefinite

Just in time for Halloween these creepy, crawly creatures go on view in their own room. You won’t want to miss these fascinating sculptures that some see as forceful feminist icons.

Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco 415-655-7800.

“Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid,” Sept. 28 to Jan. 28

New commissioned artworks in a variety of media interpret traditional Jewish stories and characters in a large, imaginative exhibition that includes works by Elizabeth Higgins O’Conner, Tracy Snelling, M. Louise Stanley, Inez Storer and others.

Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, 415-581-3500.

“Couture Korea,” Nov. 3 to Feb. 4

From the royal courts of the Joeson Dynasty (1352-1910) to the runways of Paris, “Couture Korea” immerses viewers in the splendor of historical and contemporary Korean dress. More than 120 works reveal the formal beauty and superb craftsmanship of Korean fashion in this show organized by the Seoul-based Arumjigi Culture Keeper Foundation and San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.