The city provides the context for the visually packed work of San Francisco native Barry McGee. Since the mid-1980s, when McGee was a teenager, he has lived in the city’s oldest neighborhood, the Mission District. At that time, the Mission held a colorful, somewhat seedy, antiestablishment atmosphere with a thriving culture of youth, alternative musicians, artists, and thinkers. The vibe of the Mission influenced the artist early on, and he began to infiltrate the area’s flourishing graffiti boom with images that he created to reflect his surroundings.
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New York-based artist Gary Simmons is known for his “erasure” technique, which he began using in the early 1990s. Initially creating semi-erased works with chalk on blackboards, the artist has evolved to works on paper, paint on canvas, and murals that mimic smudged chalk. The resulting blurred and ghostly images often refer to intersections of pop culture, race, and class.
British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE explores colonialism and the intricate ways in which it has shaped, and continues to shape, cultural identities. He is well known for his life-size sculptural tableaux featuring staged, headless mannequins dressed in elaborate period garments. In these works, the materials and designs of the original clothing are replaced with batik, a colorful and ornately patterned fabric.
As an encore presentation to last winter’s exhibition, FOCUS: KAWS, which featured the work of Brooklyn-based artist KAWS (b. Brian Donnelly, 1974), the Modern is currently featuring the installation of the artist’s monumental sculpture, COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH), 2010. The work has been on view at the Modern’s entrance since September 9, 2012. Originally scheduled to leave on January 6, the installation at the Modern has been extended through March 31.
Lucian Freud is widely considered the greatest portrait painter of the twentieth century. His visceral renderings of people from all walks of life have a painterly and psychological drama that is unparalleled in contemporary art. For much of a century—from the late 1940s until his recent death in July 2011—Freud made the living human presence his subject.
Ged Quinn’s paintings combine landscapes in the vein of Claude Lorrain with fragments of history, art history, and mythology. The works are awe-inspiring in their combination of painterly skills and provocative conceptual strains. In Quinn’s work, sublime backgrounds meet broken-down foregrounds, and at all turns utopian ideals are acknowledged and critiqued. Death, deceit, and decay are also dragged into the frame.
Katie Paterson is known for her multidisciplinary and conceptually driven work, with an emphasis on nature, ecology, geology, and cosmology. Many of her installations have been the result of intensive research and collaboration with specialists as diverse as astronomers, nanotechnologists, and firework manufacturers.
Glenn Ligon: AMERICA is the first comprehensive, mid-career retrospective of Glenn Ligon (b. 1960), widely regarded as one of the most important and influential American artists to have emerged in the past two decades
The work of Brooklyn-based artist, Brian Donnelly, who makes his art under the moniker, "KAWS," is the subject of the first Focus exhibition for the coming 2011-2012 Season.
Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series is the most comprehensive show to date of Diebenkorn's most celebrated works. Coorganized by Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the exhibition is curated by OCMA curator Sarah C. Bancroft.