Two SFMOMA Photography Exhibitions Will Travel to Six California Communities, Deepening Engagement with Modern and Contemporary Art throughout the State

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents a statewide tour of two exhibitions drawn from its internationally acclaimed photography collection that will travel to six cities throughout California. Venues include Bakersfield, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and Stockton, with an additional location to be announced. Launching in September 2013, an exhibition tour of this scale within California is unprecedented in the museum’s history, providing greater access to its collection and enabling SFMOMA to collaborate with museums throughout the state.

“It is a tremendous privilege to make these photographs available to a wide range of new audiences and forge fruitful relationships with institutions throughout the state,” says Corey Keller, SFMOMA curator of photography, who is organizing the tour. “We are truly grateful to our sponsors, particularly The James Irvine Foundation, for their generosity and foresight in making this extraordinary opportunity possible.” Each venue’s exhibition costs are generously funded by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation and by Bank of America.

The tour’s exhibitions—Photography in Mexico from the Collection of SFMOMA and The Provoke Era: Japanese Photography from the Collection of SFMOMA—are a part of the museum’s extensive array of off-site programming taking place while its building is temporarily closed for expansion construction from the summer of 2013 until early 2016. Featuring the photographic traditions of Mexico and Japan, the exhibitions highlight particular strengths of SFMOMA’s holdings and explore themes resonant with California’s diverse communities. The tour’s first exhibition, Photography in Mexico, opens at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa on September 28, 2013.

SFMOMA is distinguished as one of the first museums in the United States to recognize photography as an art form, and for more than 75 years, it has been home to innovative scholarship about the medium as well as in-depth exhibitions of the practice. Drawn from SFMOMA’s collection of more than 16,000 photographs—its largest collection of objects—this statewide tour of exhibitions expands opportunities for the public to encounter and understand the history of photography.

Photography in Mexico from the Collection of SFMOMA

SFMOMA has a longstanding commitment to collecting and presenting works of Latin American modernism. Featuring approximately 100 photographs, Photography in Mexico reveals a distinctively rich and diverse tradition of photography in Mexico. The show begins with works from the medium’s first artistic flowering in the wake of the Mexican Revolution (1910–20) and goes on to explore the explosion of the illustrated press at midcentury; the documentary investigations of cultural traditions and urban politics that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s; and more recent considerations of urban life and globalization. Photography in Mexico includes work by Lola Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Carrillo, Alejandro Cartagena, Graciela Iturbide, Elsa Medina, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Edward Weston, and Mariana Yampolsky, among others. Many of the photographs in the exhibition are recent gifts from Los Angeles collectors Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser.

Photography in Mexico will travel to the Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa (September 28, 2013–January 12, 2014); Bakersfield Museum of Art (September 11, 2014–January 4, 2015); and the Haggin Museum, Stockton (dates TBD).

The Provoke Era: Japanese Photography from the Collection of SFMOMA

SFMOMA is home to the largest collection of Japanese photography in the United States and has been actively acquiring the work of internationally recognized artists including Masahisa Fukase, Eikoh Hosoe, Daido Moriyama, and Shōmei Tōmatsu since the 1970s. The Provoke Era begins with the avant-garde tradition that emerged in Tokyo in the 1960s and 1970s, and explores its influence on the diverse photographic practice that continues today. The tumultuous period following World War II proved fertile ground for a generation of Japanese photographers who responded to societal upheaval by creating a new visual language dubbed “Are, Bure, Boke”—rough, blurred, and out of focus. Named for the magazine Provoke, which sought to break the rules of traditional photography, this exhibition traces how Japanese photographers responded to their country’s shifting social and political atmosphere.

The Provoke Era will travel to the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento (October 12, 2014–February 1, 2015) and the California Museum of Photography, UC Riverside (March 28–August 15, 2015).

The California tour of Photography in Mexico and The Provoke Era is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The presentation of these exhibitions is made possible by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation. Major support is provided by Bank of America.

Photography at SFMOMA

SFMOMA’s renowned photography program traces the medium’s transformation from a scientific development in the 1930s to one of today’s most publicly accessible art forms. Creating a dynamic forum for photography, SFMOMA leads the field with groundbreaking publications, collection stewardship, and landmark exhibitions. The museum has continually collected and presented important artists in great depth and context, highlighting its strengths related to California and the West, the European avant-garde, postwar Japan, and American Modernism.

Earlier this year, SFMOMA premiered the most comprehensive retrospective of Garry Winogrand, featuring more than 300 photographs—many of which have never been seen or printed before. In addition, the museum recently announced promised gifts of 473 photographs, amplifying its holdings of such major photographers as Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Daido Moriyama, and Shōmei Tōmatsu. As SFMOMA undergoes its current expansion program, the museum continues to invest in its photography resources with plans to establish one of the largest and most sophisticated photographic destinations of any museum in the world.

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