Spring Arts Guide: Art

Let's look at pretty pictures together.

Nina Katchadourian: The Recarcassing Ceremony
April 22 – May 27, at Catharine Clark Gallery, 248 Utah St., S.F. 415-399-1439 or cclarkgallery.com

A Nina Katchadourian video project is worth the wait, because the wait often results in laughter and visual hijinks. In In a Room Full of Strangers, Katchadourian — using toilet-seat covers in the bathroom of an airplane — filmed herself as a medieval Flemish subject who lip-syncs to the Bee Gees’ “Nights on Broadway.” That project made its way to Catharine Clark Gallery in 2014. This time at Catharine Clark, it’s The Recarcassing Ceremony, a 25-minute work that uses Playmobil figures and Katchadourian’s remembrances of a childhood ritual she had with her brother. Some of the figures die. In one scene, we see close-ups of the happy, colorful girls with this caption: “I was overcome with grief.” Katchadourian is adept at odd juxtapositions. As she told SF Weekly in 2014, she loves “this idea of what can you make out of nothing.”

Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs
April 27 – Sept. 3, at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 415-655-7800 or thecjm.org.

Roz Chast’s cartoons in The New Yorker are instantly recognizable for their pathos, humor, and drawing style. “The Emperor’s New Speedo,” from the magazine’s Jan. 16 issue, shows a hairy, overweight king — whose flesh overwhelms his skimpy briefs — being hailed by his assistants, of whom says, “It’s what everyone’s wearing in FRANCE!” In her 2014 book, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast turned her humor toward her dying parents and her own struggle taking care of them. The graphic memoir won a slew of honors, including a National Book Critics Circle award for Autobiography. And it begat this exhibition, which centers around Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, cartoons from The New Yorker, and other Chast items, some from her personal collection.

Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest
April 29 – Aug. 20, Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. 510-318-8400 or museumca.org.

During his long career, the painter Roy De Forest exhibited in museums and galleries throughout his adopted Bay Area, but never at the level that will be on display at the Oakland Museum of California. De Forest’s first full-career retrospective, which comes 10 years after his death, highlights the colorful, eccentric paintings and sculptures — especially of dogs — that De Forest specialized in. During the past few years, Brian Gross Fine Art was the place to see De Forest’s paintings, and it still is: The gallery at 248 Utah St. holds its own De Forest exhibit from May 6 to July 1. But it’s the Oakland Museum of California where art-goers can get a highly concentrated dose of De Forest’s unique take on the world. 

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing
May 13 – Aug. 13, Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. 510-318-8400 or museumca.org.

In the almost-200-year history of photography, a select number of people stand out for their monumental contributions to the craft. The list includes Louis Daguerre, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, Gordon Parks, and Annie Leibovitz. It also includes Dorothea Lange. Eighty years after she took what became her best-known image, Migrant Mother, people remain moved by that photo. Shot in San Luis Obispo County during the Great Depression, Migrant Mother prompted the federal government to dispatch emergency shipments of food to the area. Over the rest of her career, Lange continued to take images of marginalized people, including Japanese-Americans interned in camps during World War II. Lange gave her personal archive to the Oakland Museum of California, and “Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing” argues that she was as much a social activist as an indelible photographer.

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade
June 24 – Sept. 24, Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave., 415-750-3600 or legionofhonor.famsf.org

In his acclaimed 2014 book, Edgar Degas: Drawings and Pastels, art scholar Christopher Lloyd — whose pedigree includes a top position in the British Royal household (“Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures”) — focused on an under-recognized subject of Degas’ gaze: women’s hats. “Hats, for Degas,” Lloyd wrote, “are the urban equivalent of Monet’s water lilies at Giverny.” “Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade” takes this theme and turns it into a full-fledged exhibit of revelation and context. Besides The Millinery Shop and other Degas paintings of 19th-century hat scenes, the exhibit features some of the very hats that Degas would have seen. Keep an eye out for millinery paintings by Degas’ contemporaries, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed
June 24 – Oct. 9 at SFMOMA, 151 Third St., 415-357-4000 or sfmoma.org.

Edvard Munch made his masterpiece, The Scream, when he was 30. He lived for 50 more years, and he continued to paint — and paint well. “Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed” is a kind of late-career retrospective whose title is taken from a self-portrait that Munch made between 1940 and 1943. Many of the exhibit’s works have never been shown in the United States, and to gather them in one place, SFMOMA partnered with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Munch Museum in Oslo. Sadly, The Scream won’t be here, but the show will have a Scream-like work that Munch made the year before — Sick Mood at Sunset: Despair — that has much of the same color scheme and punch of his most famous painting.

Check out more from our Spring Arts Guide here:

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