Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Fisher Collection

Calder to Warhol
Introducing the Fisher Collection

June 25 - September 19, 2010

SF MOMAFirst thing Monday morning I was at the SF MOMA to see the Fisher Collection show. Its size alone is impressive. It completely occupies the 2 upper floors plus the sculpture garden, & apparently this is just a fraction of the collection. If nothing else, the show makes clear the meaning of collecting "in depth." Alexander Calder, Gerhard Richter, Agnes Martin, Chuck Close & Andy Warhol each get 1 or even 2 galleries to themselves. It's as if some artists' work were like potato chips to Fisher.

Quantum Cloud VIIIIn a video playing in a small room, Mr. Fisher opines that "Museums are elitist, & they shouldn't be." I found all the works in his collection accessible. I even sat through the video pieces by William Kentridge & Shirin Neshat, though I usually get impatient with time-based works. Antony Gormley's Quantum Cloud VIII was a nice discovery for me. It's a life-size figure, seemingly made of floating match sticks. The best way for me to experience the huge Chuck Close portraits was to take off my glasses & squint. The Claes Oldenburg pieces are characteristically humorous. His Inverted Collar & Tie - Third Version turns a tie into a giant striking cobra. The Study for Typewriter Eraser: Final Position - ROSC Version has an extra layer of meaning now that its subject is an obsolete office tool. Perhaps it would be fun to exhibit it with the museum's collection of portable Olivetti typewriters, which is displayed on the 2nd floor.

I wonder what it means to "own" a Sol LeWitt drawing, which is installed by making marks directly on a wall according to prescribed steps. I also wonder if it was OK for one of the guards to walk on Carl Andre's Copper-Zinc Plain, which is a checkerboard of metal tiles laid on the floor. I watched him do this twice. In another gallery, while I was copying information from a label, another guard came up to me & handed me a golf pencil. I was taking notes with a pen, which is not allowed.


sfmike said...

Why is a pen not allowed? That's just bizarre.

y2k said...

Thanks for your wonderful description. I wish I could go to SF to see this before it ends.

Re: Sol LeWitt
Since he's a conceptual artist, when you purchase his work, what you get is a sheet of paper with instructions given by him. So, it could be something like, "Straight lines drawn with 5 colors in red, orange, black, blue, and purple". And then it's up to the museum's curator to hire artists to create it.

As for Carl Andre's copper plates, yes, they are meant to be walked on. At least I've done that several times at different museums.

@sfmike, pens are not allowed due to concern of "crazy people" using them on paintings. Pencils are less damaging if one does decide to use them to draw on the works.

Axel Feldheim said...

Thanks for the insights, y2k. Don't worry if you miss the show this time around, as the SF MOMA is committed to a major expansion specifically to display the Fisher Collection.

So that museum guard was actually setting an example by trodding on the Carl Andre. Perhaps the work needs a sign inviting us to do so. I think it's funny that in the sculpture garden there is a piece that looks exactly like 2 park benches, but there is a sign warning us that this is art & not to be sat on.