Museum 2014 preview

French Impressionists, modern masters, the mysteries of yoga, and illustrations of a classic Passover narrative are among the new year offerings at museums here and in the Bay Area.

Here’s the rundown of exhibits so that plans can be made to take in these shows:

Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections: Internationally acclaimed California native Sam Francis is one of the state’s most historically significant artists. Featuring strong color in sublime clouds of pigments, the show highlights different periods of the artist’s work from outstanding public and private collections. Starting with early work made in the Bay Area in the 1940s and leading to the artist’s influential body of work from the 1950s to his death in the 1990s, the exhibition includes works made in Palo Alto, Point Reyes and Santa Monica, as well as those made while Francis was living in New York, Switzerland and Japan. The show is organized by the Sam Francis Foundation, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Crocker Art Museum, where it appears after a highly successful run at the Pasadena Museum.

Jan. 26-April 20; Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento. (916) 808-7000

Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art: Seventy treasured paintings by 19th century avant-garde artists are included in this gem of a show of intimately scaled Impressionist and Post-Impressionist still lifes, portraits and landscapes, which are among the National Gallery’s most beloved paintings. Significant pictures by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, George Seurat and Vincent van Gogh are included in the exhibition, drawn from the collections of Alicia Mellon Bruce and Paul Mellon, the two children of the Washington, D.C., gallery’s founder Andrew Mellon.

March 29-Aug. 3; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco. (415) 750-3600

Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Nearly 50 works, several by great postwar artists, among them, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella are included in this stellar show, which will only be seen at the deYoung. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Barnett Newman’s “The Stations of the Cross” 1958-1966, widely considered to be his most important work, presented in a chapel-like gallery so visitors can experience it as the artist intended.

June 7-Oct. 12; DeYoung Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Franicsco. (415) 750-3600

Yoga: The Art of Transformation: All over the world people practice yoga to pursue spiritual insight or better health, but few know of yoga’s original goal of transforming body and consciousness; its profound philosophical underpinnings; its place in Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu religious traditions; or the surprisingly diverse social roles played by male and female yogic practitioners over centuries. Borrowing from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the United States, the show includes an installation of three monumental stone yogini goddesses from a 10th century Indian temple; 10 folios from the first compilation of yoga postures; and a Thomas Edison film from 1902, widely considered the first movie made about India.

Feb. 21-May 25; Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco. (415) 581-3500

Arthur Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah: The haggadah, the ritual text for the Passover seder, tells the story of the exodus of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. This show highlights the unique and powerful story of the Szyk Haggadeh (1940). Szyk (1894-1951), a Polish Jew, fused his love of art and history into a visual commentary on the striking parallels between the Passover narrative and the alarming developments unfolding in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The show includes all 48 original illustrations of Szyk’s masterpiece on view together for the first time in over 60 years.

Feb. 13-June 29; The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St. (Between Third and Fourth streets), San Fransisco; (415)655-7800

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Closed for expansion, the museum offers many off-site exhibits in the Bay Area. Check for them at