Thursday, August 7, 2008

The San Francisco MOMA – August 7, 2008

We went down to see the Frida Kahlo show. She’s like Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, very popular but also very good. It was crowded but we are museum members and could walk in.

Over the years Madame Le Chef and I have seen several shows of her work, and her paintings reproduce well, so there were few revelations, although there was great pleasure, in seeing the actual pieces.

What was a revelation were some unfamiliar photos of her and Diego Rivera and a delightful home movie of them. There is a long tradition in Western Art of a court painter doing a portrait of some misshapen royal and making him or her look godlike. Frida Kahlo did the exact opposite thing to herself. In the photos and the home movie you see just what a beautiful woman she was but when she painted herself, she was unmerciful to every defect.

There were major revelations to be had on the same floor as her show. We had forgotten that there was a show of contemporary Chinese Art at the museum that was all from the Logan Collection. In this case it was very important to see the actual pieces, most of which are large.

There is a wonderful piece by Sui Jianguo that consists of a collection of several thousand brightly painted toy dinosaurs with a life-sized Chairman Mao asleep on top of them. It’s called “The Sleep of Reason” (shout-out to Goya). The same artist also has a large piece called “Made in China” out on the 4th Floor terrace, which is the only piece one can photograph and we did.

There are also a lot of very interesting paintings. Not everything is as Pop as the two pieces I’ve mentioned but there is very dark humor manifested in a lot of them.

I definitely recommend the show to any of my Bay Area readers.

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