4 Must-See San Francisco Museums For Light Art Lovers
As a center for creativity, innovation and reinvention, San Francisco has attracted the world’s most notable light artists like, well, moths to a flame. For a truly illuminating art experience, on your next visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Contemporary Jewish Museum, the de Young and the Exploratorium, immerse yourself in these 10 brilliant works by some of the world’s most notable light artists.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Visit SFMOMA’s Floor 5 to view the exhibition Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art: The Fisher Collection, which features works from the 1960s and beyond that provoke dialogue about the nature of art and its place in American culture. This exhibition from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection includes three major light art works by Dan Flavin, using his signature fluorescent light tubes: Monument for V. Tatlin, The Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), and Untitled (to Barnett Newman) Two. While Flavin's work is often contextualized with other Minimalist artists, his emphasis on light and its effects aligns him just as strongly with Op art, whose practitioners explored variations in color and shape based on differences in light. Also look for Bruce Nauman’s wry wordplay and playful use of neon tubing in Life Death/Knows Doesn’t Know. The piece slyly subverts our expectations of neon signage, replacing the lexicon of commercial advertising with weighty but contradictory terms — life/death, pleasure/pain, love/hate — intersected by ambiguous sentence fragments that underscore the haphazardness of language itself. On view through Illuminate SF Festival of Light.
Contemporary Jewish Museum
The CJM selected renowned architect Daniel Libeskind to design its intriguing new home, including the 36 diamond-shaped windows that light the top floor of the metal cube known as the Yud and the allegorical light installation PaRDeS, which is embedded in the wall of the Grand Lobby. Suspended high over the heads of visitors in the museum’s soaring lobby space is the first major artwork to be commissioned by the CJM, Lamp of the Covenant by Dave Lane, a massive 90-foot long illuminated sculpture suggesting the unfolding marvels of the cosmos. Permanent.
The de Young Museum
Built into a hill within the museum’s Babro Osher Sculpture garden, James Turrell’s Three Gems is an exquisite "skyspace" in the form of a stupa, or dome, showcasing a view of the sky altered by LED lighting effects that change with light and weather conditions outside.
Buckyball, by Leo Villareal, is a towering 25-foot illuminated sculpture inspired by the geodesic dome made popular by futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller. Its two nested, geodesic spheres are comprised of 4,500 LED nodes arranged along a series of pentagons and hexagons. On view through February 2018.