Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Marvelous views from any angle.  And I haven't even gotten to the art work yet.  That's just the architecture of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

(The SF MoMA is highly symmetrical, as most photos show, but I did opt to choose varied angles for some images.)
Geometry in space
Looking out onto the atrium ceiling

A few days ago, I had the spontaneous treat of killing a few hours at the MoMA, one of my favorite museums in San Francisco.  I was faced with a wasted day of bureaucracy involving 3 hours' waiting time between document drop off and pick-up.  Fortunately, the MoMA was only a 5-minute cab ride away.  I couldn't have been happier filling those 3 hours and wished it were 5 instead.

Striped, black granite staircase
opening up directly to the gallery

It turns out, this current structure, designed by the Italian Mario Botta, will be affected by the proposed Museum expansion.  While change is often good, many are saddened by the removal of the monumental, granite staircase, central to the current museum experience as it guides visitors from floor to floor.  However, the new plans (proposed by the architectural firm, Snøhetta) are shaping up to be an interesting abstract counterpoint to Botta's geometric forms.

The ocular skylight, capturing blue sky
and specks of light, high on top of the atrium

But what is a Museum's architecture for but to showcase great works of art?  (Yes, yes, architects will argue that the architecture itself IS the work of art!)

A visitor merges into a Mark Rothko painting
architecturally framed by the track lighting

The MoMA was where I first experienced the magnificence of Rothko, the energy of Pollock, the abstractions of Diebenkorn.

Views framed by the
Clyfford Still gallery walls

A Clyfford Still painting

I also viewed two special exhibits this day -- a Richard Serra Drawings retrospective, and extraordinary photography by the short-lived Francesca Woodman.  The latter deserves her own, separate blog post.

So, I got more than I bargained for on this paper-shuffling trip to San Francisco -- Architecture and Art, rolled up into one extraordinary package.  Knowing now that the grand, central staircase is disappearing, I was also glad to have caught a self-portrait against its zebra walls.  (I did get amused smiles being the only person facing into the wall while everyone else was walking down and away from it.)

Me, in my '50s swing coat and ladylike purse
My vintage style was perhaps incongruous to the surroundings
but it was the same period as the California Abstract Expressionists!

What is your favorite Museum?


  1. Wonderful photos!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing them.

  2. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing this staircase.

    My favourite museums so far Centre Pompidou and the Guggenheim house in Venice and the British Museum in London

  3. I never get a chance to get to that coast and it's places like this that draw me there. The space looks great!


  4. Wow looks amazing, would love to visit it one day! I think my favo museums are Orsay and Centre Pompidou in Pares, Sofia del Reina in Madrid and MoMa and Gugenheim in NYC... But there's so much more to discover :)

  5. Amazing photos! and some amazing painting as well!

  6. Wow, what inspiring photos...I love art museums!

  7. The skylight is so much like that of our headquarters' (also by Mario Botta) in Basel. I love the pictures you took!

  8. Nice to know that you have 3 surnames,and Spanish connections, LOL

  9. I had no idea that there was a MOMA in SF!

    How interesting that you talk about light! This is something very close to my heart. Without light after all we would be nothing!

    Architects are a funny bunch! But I agree, I often get more drawn into the space that houses more so that the works of art exhibited within them.

    BTW Have you seen this years Turner Prize? Curious and very apt to our little conversation no?

  10. I didn't even know SF has a MoMa... What an amazing building, filled with incredible art.
    I think architectually it would be the British Museum in London (still got some photos cueing up to be released). Content-wise I can never get enough of the pictures in the National Gallery (London). X

  11. This is really cool, my art history friends are huge fans of Rothko and kept insisting that I go see this exhibition. So funny how it shows in London and then I see you blog about it.

  12. these are beautiful photos..i do enjoy these posts..i so wish i could see this with my own eyes..maybe someday i will..till then i have your blog to look forward to

  13. I love Rothko his paintings totally have the concept of less is more. I love modern art but I also admire clasic musseam like the Louvre, love the V&A in London, the Tate Britain and I also love the Antropology museum in Mexico City and Tamayo museum haha

  14. I've been several timese in SF but I never had the chance to visit the MoMa!
    My fave is the Paul Getty Center in LA which is a piece of art itself. Have you ever been there?

  15. rarely does an artist's work capture the emotions the way rothko's does. abstract expressionism is my favorite art era; i teach painting workshops, and my rothko class has been popular.
    what a way to "kill" 3 hours, lucky you!

  16. The museum looks so interesting, I love the architecture of it! My favorite has to be the Science museum in London, mainly because it's quite involving when you go there. xo


  17. Wonderful architecture in an art gallery always enhances the experience. What a wonderful space. Xxxx

  18. The black granite staircase looks amazing! Most the works are quite good, but me that one stands out.

  19. beautiful set of photos : i love the geometrical theme. my favourite museum must be el praco in madrid :)


Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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