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Light Art Around Yerba Buena

The Yerba Buena neighborhood is the curator of San Francisco culture – home to the highest concentration of museums and the most diverse art installations in the city, and they love to show it off.

151 Third St., SFMOMA
Art Installation

untitled (to Barnett Newman) two by Dan Flavin

01

Start your light art tour at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Floor 5, where the first of three iconic works by Dan Flavin is in dedication to the American abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman, a friend of the artist’s who died in 1970. While the optical effects painters achieved can only fool the eye by alluding to movement, Flavin's light waves demonstrate how light is color, color is light, and the interaction of either creates the illusion of dynamism as they play against or in harmony with one another and the environment.

151 Third St., SFMOMA
151 Third St., SFMOMA
Art Installation

The diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi) by Dan Flavin

02

In this piece at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Floor 5, Dan Flavin celebrates movement by exploiting the liveliness and speed implied by the diagonal. Searching for a simple object to claim for his art, he realized the potential of the fluorescent bulb as a basic form that could be built upon and indefinitely repeated, Flavin created his iconic diagonal in blue fluorescent light from his sketch of the, "diagonal of personal ecstasy," apparently made earlier.

151 Third St., SFMOMA
151 Third St., SFMOMA
Art Installation

“monument” for V Tatlin by Dan Flavin

03

Few artists can boast having explored a single medium, and an unusual one at that, as tenaciously and consistently as Dan Flavin with his signature fluorescent light tubes. This stepped arrangement of cool white fluorescent light is one of his many light "propositions," made up of standardized commercially available materials much like the ready mades by Marcel Duchamp that he admired.

151 Third St., SFMOMA
151 Third St., SFMOMA
Art Installation

Life Death / Knows Doesn’t Know by Bruce Nauman

04

Bruce Nauman's wry wordplay and playful use of neon tubing at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art , Floor 5, 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.

151 Third St., SFMOMA
701 Mission St., YBCA
Art Installation

Murmur Wall by Future Cities Lab

05

To view Murmur Wall, cross Third Street to enter Yerba Buena Gardens and look for the steps leading up to the main entrance of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA). Near the west side of the steps, you’ll see an artificially intelligent and dynamic light art sculpture spanning the outdoor wall. Words are harvested from trending search engine results and displayed momentarily on the wall, inviting visitors to view, contemplate, discuss, and debate the randomly selected phrases. Contribute your own “murmurs and whispers” at www.murmurwall.net.

701 Mission St., YBCA
736 Mission St.
Art Installation

Yud by Daniel Libeskind

06

Across Mission Street from YBCA, walk north across the plaza to view the 36 diamond-shaped windows that light the top floor of the metal cube known as the Yud in the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), one of the most intriguing building designs by the studio led by architect Daniel Libeskind. After dark, stand in the museum’s entrance plaza to take in the dramatic warm light emanating from this symbolic shape overlooking Yerba Buena Lane. With ticketed admission, you can enter the Yud gallery to experience its unique shape during museum operating hours.

736 Mission St.
736 Mission St.
Art Installation

PaRDeS Wall by Daniel Libeskind

07

Anytime during Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) operating hours (Friday – Tuesday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursdays: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.), visitors may view PaRDeS, a stunning light installation embedded in the wall of the Grand Lobby. Its stylized Hebrew letters translate as “orchard” – the connotation is that the orchard can be found on the other side of the wall. Metaphorically then, the sweetness, or fruit, of learning and art can be found inside the museum.

736 Mission St.
736 Mission St.
Art Installation

Lamp of the Covenant by Dave Lane

08

The first major artwork to be commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), this monumental piece is suspended high over the heads of visitors in the museum’s soaring lobby space. The artwork’s steel oval is comprised of antique found objects: world globes, light bulbs, tools such as 19th century apple peelers and blowtorches, and various other materials that suggest the unfolding marvels of the cosmos. Contemplate this massive sculpture in the CJM Grand Lobby during operating hours. (Take time to visit the exquisite CJM museum store and the Wise Sons Jewish Deli also in the lobby.)

736 Mission St.
181 Third St.
Art Installation

Lumina by MADLAB

10

Make your way back to Third Street and continue south to W SF hotel. Upon stepping into the lobby at the corner of Third and Howard Streets, you can’t miss the vibrant, otherworldly light sculpture. This lustrous mass is reminiscent of a bioluminescent jellyfish, cosmic star clouds and the brain’s neural networks. Look up to appreciate how the sculpture emanates a sense of mystery, as its translucent fiberglass and fiber optic strands draw hotel guests to its vivid core.

181 Third St.
181 Third St.
Art Installation

Model Art Map by Lisa Gemmiti

11

Look above the hotel lobby’s illuminated check-in desks to discover a sculptural piece representing The City at night. Using photographs as inspiration, the artist and her team sculpted this light art work with precision and artistic license. The topography was machined with a 2.5x vertical exaggeration to emphasize the changes in grade. Two thousand LEDs in four colors were installed on four circuits in order to set the intensity of each circuit in place. A little fun was added by using red LEDs to represent points of interest in San Francisco, and a single purple LED designated the W Hotel.

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181 Third St.

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