The Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA Make One Gorgeous Mashup

Sofia Perez | June 20, 2014 | Story Galleries and Performance

The Asian Art Museum's next exhibition Gorgeous—72 works chosen from the SFMOMA and the Asian Art Museum—is anything but bland. The paintings, photographs, sculptures, and objects are drawn from the collections of both museums and meant to highlight the fine line between atttraction and repulsion. In the slideshow above are six of our favorite works on display, with commentary from the curators below.

Jessie at 5
Sally Mann, 1987
Gelatin silver print (SFMOMA)

The Curators' Take: Harding said that the subject, Jessie, was the daughter of photographer Sally Mann, who preferred photographing children rather than adults, for their playfulness and absence of self-consciousness. Jessie’s pose and stare are described as teeter-tottering between a window into this private moment versus an exploitation of maternal protectiveness.

Laughing Nude
John Currin, 1988
Oil on linen. (SFMOMA)

The Curators' Take: McGill suggested examining the technique and attention to detail of the paint itself. It is compared to Northern Renaissance nudes and encompasses the artist’s “search for the point in which the beautiful and the grotesque are held in perfect balance.”

Michael Jackson and Bubbles
Jeff Koons, 1988
Ceramic, glaze (SFMOMA)

The Curators' Take: Harding points out that the porcelain was crafted by Italian ceramicists, and the whiteness of Michael Jackson’s skin reflects the controversy surrounding his ever-lightening complexion. The gold? Well, it was the 80s.

The Beach at Miho and Mt. Fuji
Kano Tan’yu, 1966
From a pair of six-panel folding screens, ink, colors, and gold on paper (Asian Art Museum)
The Curators' Take: Reading Harding’s commentary, viewers learn that the focus and colors change throughout the day as the lighting does, giving the screen a kind of movement. As the hills roll and the water laps, clouds that were originally not apparent become exposed as the light shifts across the screen.

Mythical Birdman
Central Thailand. 1775–1850.
The Curators' Take: McGill said that if you set aside the body for a moment, it is easier to see the "universal sympahthy" in the smiling eyes.

Torso of a Female Deity
Southern India. 1400–1600.
Stone. (Asian Art Museum)

The Curators' Take: Reading the Harding and McGill’s commentary is an exercise in appreciating brokenness. The arms, legs, and head have been worn off by time, so it is literally only a piece of what is once. The suggestive stance almost seems to be overcompensating for the fragmentation. Damage is alluring.

Gorgeous runs at the Asian Art Museum (200 Larkin St.) from June 20 to September 14.

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