San Francisco: SFMOMA

13:34. Unlike the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art doesn’t allow you to take photographs, even with the flash off. I had already taken several photos before a guard chastised me.

photo: SFMOMA

What I like most about SFMOMA is the building itself. The smooth curves and uncluttered spaces are more than restful. It elevates ones sense of humanity; that is, you feel capable of being your best self here. But as for the art, it suffers in comparison with the anonymously crafted masterpieces of the Asian Art Museum. I don’t dislike modern art. However, I think that a lot of conceptual art ignores craftsmanship and skill. I don’t think an idea is enough to qualify as art. What I’d really like to see at SFMOMA, in addition to the name of the artist and the name of the piece, is the price that museum made for it. Wouldn’t that add a modern touch?

photo: SFMOMA

One exhibit that I really like is the Irving Penn nudes, Earthly Bodies. Some people have suggested that the photos are misogynistic because the nudes are shown without heads or limbs. I think it’s just the opposite. By stripping the bodies of their identities, the eye focuses on a single part of the body and is able to perceive it without clouding it with sexual tension, the uneasiness that you are looking at a naked woman. Under these circumstances, the torso is as neutral as a hand or a foot. My favorite is nude #25, which I sat and sketched.

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The surface and beneath the surface