News & Trending – Cultivating Culture http://www.cultivatingculture.com Thinking and writing about culture around the world Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:13:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 50009989 Painter Natalie Frank Recounts Her Experience With Sexual Harassment http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/11/14/natalie-frank-sexual-harassment/ http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/11/14/natalie-frank-sexual-harassment/#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:13:44 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5482 If there’s anything that the #MeToo campaign has taught us, it’s that sexual harassment is so pervasive that it affects nearly every industry imaginable. And yet, there are still some industries in which we expect this type of behavior more so than in others. In the art world, for example, we don’t expect it as […]

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A painting of a black woman touching herself sexually. The piece was created by Natalie Frank.

The Hang Man Has Gone to Wash, The Soldiers to Eat, We Are Left Alone With Our Feat by Natalie Frank.
Photo courtesy of Mark Barry via Flickr CC.

If there’s anything that the #MeToo campaign has taught us, it’s that sexual harassment is so pervasive that it affects nearly every industry imaginable. And yet, there are still some industries in which we expect this type of behavior more so than in others. In the art world, for example, we don’t expect it as much because we tend to view creative types as respectful, open-minded, and socially conscious. But as New York-based painter Natalie Frank points out, sexual harassment is as much a problem in the art world as it is any other field.

In a recent op-ed published in ARTnews, Natalie Frank went as far as to compare the art world to being a “minefield” for female artists. Citing her own experiences with sexual harassment, Frank said that influential figureheads have used their positions to belittle her.

“Throughout my career, I’ve had run-ins with men in positions of power in that world who have behaved inappropriately, with impunity,” Frank wrote. “While none of these rises to the level of what Weinstein’s subjects experienced, they have nevertheless made me feel small; they’ve frightened, degraded, and intimidated me.”

Her first encounter happened ten years ago, when Frank was in her early 20s. A graduate student at the time, an older successful photographer came to visit her at her studio.

Upon examining the sexual themes within her work, the photographer proceeded to make a series of lewd comments, such as, “I can tell what kind of girl you are… I bet you like your boyfriend to tie you up, I bet you like it rough.” He then leaned toward her and said, “You know what you need? You need to be fucked up the ass.”

The photographer then asked for her notebook. When she handed it over, he wrote “25 nude self-portraits by this date” followed by his email address. Frightened and in shock, she was silent at the time. Looking back, she regrets not saying, “Get out of my studio.”

Another notable encounter happened right after she finished graduate school. Just as Frank was about to have her first New York solo exhibition, an art critic by the name of Charlie Finch wrote an article about her. It was titled “The Seduction of Natalie Frank.”

In the piece, Finch described her as “a young, virginal star.” He also wrote, “In the heat, Natalie sweated through acrylics and oils in a wife beater shirt for twelve hours at a time. At our direction, she would wipe away days of work in a flash to add a cascade of decaying flowers or some phallic armature.” Another art blog compared her piece to a date rape. Frank said it made her feel disgusted, objectified, and humiliated.

On another occasion, an editor who worked for a European art journal asked her via email if she would like to masturbate in a bathroom with him. Peculiar, sure, but these types of requests became quite common over the years.

Another time, an older, married gallery owner asked her if she would like to “fuck” during a dinner with 15 other people around. She later reported his misconduct, and was told he did that often. “We won’t seat him next to women next time,” they responded.

Because her work is often centered on sexuality, people often think that gives them the right to make salacious comments. But Frank wants to set the record straight once and for all:

“The content of my paintings does not give you permission to harass me.”

Indeed, if there’s one thing that other female artists can learn from this, it’s that there is no justification for sexual harassment. No means no. On that same token, silence (or the absence of “yes”) also means no.

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Professor Converts American Flag into KKK Hoods for Art Exhibit http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/11/06/professor-american-flag-kkk/ http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/11/06/professor-american-flag-kkk/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 22:22:54 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5478 A Caucasian professor from the University of Miami is at the center of a heated controversy after she used the American flag to craft KKK hoods. The resulting image, which blends a symbol of patriotism with a symbol of hate, has the public divided as to whether it is a work of art or an […]

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Two KKK members wearing white hoods.

Photo courtesy of Martin via Flickr Creative Commons.

A Caucasian professor from the University of Miami is at the center of a heated controversy after she used the American flag to craft KKK hoods. The resulting image, which blends a symbol of patriotism with a symbol of hate, has the public divided as to whether it is a work of art or an abomination.

Titled American Mask, the three KKK hoods are on display in the window of a faculty art exhibit located in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. The professor who created the piece, Billie G. Lynn, told CNN that it’s “deliberately provocative.”

“I’ve always felt that art could and should act as a mirror to the culture, so that we can have these kinds of conversations within the context of talking about art,” Lynn further explained in an interview with the University of Miami.  

But not everyone views it as a thought-provoking piece. Patrick Young, who works near the gallery, called the display “disgusting” and “disrespectful.”

“This is disgusting. This is disrespectful,” Young told CNN affiliate WSVN. “I can’t see it being a positive message any way that you put it. This is disgusting to me.”

Willie Sanders, another nearby employee, had a similar reaction. As an African American, he found the display racist.

“I don’t think that’s any art,” Sanders said in an interview with WFOR, another CNN affiliate. “I think that KKK symbol with the United States flag—I don’t believe that’s a piece of art. I believe that’s a sign of racism.”

But despite the backlash, the University of Miami has defended the display as being a form of free speech.

“The University of Miami supports artistic expression and freedom of speech,” the University of Miami said in a released statement. “The art exhibit by University of Miami associate professor Billie G. Lynn, American Mask, was not reviewed or approved in advance by University of Miami officials, nor would it be subject to such review: It is an art exhibit by a member of our faculty, and her art is of her making.”

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Attorney General Asks Court to Halt Berkshire Museum Sale http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/10/31/attorney-general-berkshire-museum-sale/ http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/10/31/attorney-general-berkshire-museum-sale/#respond Tue, 31 Oct 2017 17:07:56 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5471 Back in July, the Berkshire Museum announced that it would be selling 40 of its most highly prized possessions in order to fund renovations, expand its endowment, and pursue a “New Vision” plan in which the institution would focus more on tech-driven exhibitions related to science and nature. The works, valued at $50 million, are […]

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A photo of a statue. The photo was taken inside the Berkshire Museum.

The Berkshire Museum, located in Pittsfield, MA.
Photo courtesy of Amy Meredith via Flickr Creative Commons.

Back in July, the Berkshire Museum announced that it would be selling 40 of its most highly prized possessions in order to fund renovations, expand its endowment, and pursue a “New Vision” plan in which the institution would focus more on tech-driven exhibitions related to science and nature.

The works, valued at $50 million, are scheduled to be sold at Sotheby’s in New York on November 13. But that sale will never go through if Norman Rockwell’s three sons and the Massachusetts attorney general’s office have anything to do with it.

On Oct. 20, Rockwell’s sons and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Berkshire Museum, with the goal of impeding the sale by obtaining a temporary restraining order. The suit alleges that the museum is not authorized to dispose of the works, since that decision violates the intent of the original donors. Furthermore, it alleges that the museum’s trustees failed to properly assess the institution’s fiscal status and to craft an appropriate plan.

Elizabeth McGraw, president of the museum’s board of trustees, disagrees.

“We believe we have strong legal grounds for our deaccessioning and we are confident in our New Vision plan which will allow this important local museum to continue to contribute to the educational and cultural life of this region for another century,” McGraw said in a statement delivered through a spokesperson.

William F. Lee, the museum’s attorney, called the suit “factually and legally flawed.”

But on Oct. 30, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office submitted its own legal filing, calling for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction while they further investigate the case. The attorney general’s office said it had “significant questions and concerns” regarding the legality of the sale.

The Massachusetts Superior Court will hold a hearing on a possible injunction on Wednesday, November 1 at 11 a.m.

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The Met Issues Statement on UNESCO http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/10/16/met-issues-statement-unesco/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:42:50 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5461 America’s largest museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is making its political opinion known. Following the news of America’s exit from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Met’s president and CEO, David H. Weiss, publicly condemned the decision. In a statement published on the Met’s website, Weiss specifically called out President […]

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A photo taken from the outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located in New York, NY.
Photo via Pixabay.

America’s largest museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is making its political opinion known.

Following the news of America’s exit from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Met’s president and CEO, David H. Weiss, publicly condemned the decision. In a statement published on the Met’s website, Weiss specifically called out President Trump, claiming that the decision “undermines the historic role of the United States” as a leader in cultural preservation.

Weiss’s full statement is as follows:

One of our most important responsibilities as museum leaders is to protect cultural heritage and promote international education. For more than half a century The Met and countless other museums have successfully partnered with UNESCO, an organization that has earned the respect of nations and communities worldwide for bringing together curators, conservators, and a range of other scholars to educate, preserve, protect, and support the intellectual and artistic traditions of our shared cultural heritage. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader in this effort and weakens our position as a strong advocate for cultural preservation. Although UNESCO may be an imperfect organization, it has been an important leader and steadfast partner in this crucial work. The Met remains deeply committed to productive engagement with UNESCO and our colleagues around the world who share this important objective.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stuck to its guns, citing an “anti-Israel bias” and budgetary concerns as justification for the exit.

“We were in arrears to the tune of $550 million or so, and so the question is, do we want to pay that money?” said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the State Department. “With this anti-Israel bias that’s long documented on the part of UNESCO, that needs to come to an end.”

But this isn’t the first time that the Met has gotten political. Back in February 2017, following Trump’s immigration ban, the Met disrupted their permanent-collection galleries to display contemporary art from the Middle East. If history truly does repeat itself, then it’s safe to say this won’t be the last time the Met delves into politics.

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Sophie Calle’s Latest Art Project Allows Visitors to Bury and Cremate Their Secrets http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/05/15/sophie-calle-bury-cremate-secrets/ Mon, 15 May 2017 18:05:38 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5323 There’s a power and a draw in the telling of secrets. You just have to look at the runaway success of Frank Warren’s PostSecret project to see that. Since 2005, tens of thousands of people sent their secrets in to Warren as postcards, releasing them to the public in anonymity. The project sold five books, […]

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A photo of Green-Wood Cemetery.

The historic Green-Wood Cemetery, located in Brooklyn, NY.
Photo credit: Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

There’s a power and a draw in the telling of secrets. You just have to look at the runaway success of Frank Warren’s PostSecret project to see that. Since 2005, tens of thousands of people sent their secrets in to Warren as postcards, releasing them to the public in anonymity.

The project sold five books, an app (pulled not for lack of popularity, but for abuse concerns), and an immense, searchable archive. It’s been imitated in a dozen other countries and several other English-speaking websites, and wasn’t the first of its kind.

Secrets draw us, in the telling as much as the hearing. We like the idea of them leaving our hands and dissipating, losing their power over us.

This is the sense behind “Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery,” an art project by French artist Sophie Calle in a Brooklyn graveyard. She worked together with Creative Time, one of New York’s nonprofit public arts organizations.

“Here Lie the Secrets” is a hollow marble sculpture, a gravestone-like obelisk, which will stand in the Green-Wood Cemetery for the next twenty-five years. In opposition to PostSecret, secrets left in the obelisk are not to be shared. Instead, Calle will return at measured intervals to collect them and “cremate” them, removing those secrets from the world.

There’s a great power to leaving your secrets behind, if you believe in that. And the placement of this project, in a cemetery founded 179 years ago, long before this land was folded in by New York City’s sprawl, is the perfect place for it. This is a place to find rest and peace, a place to leave thoughts that trouble you.

Green-Wood Cemetery is found at 500 25th St, in Sunset Park. “Here Lie the Secrets” is near the entrance at 25th and 5th Avenue.

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Fearless Girl Challenged By Charging Bull Sculptor http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/04/24/fearless-girl-challenged/ Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:42:21 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5295 Thirty years ago, Arturo Di Modica illegally installed a massive bronze bull in the center of New York City’s financial district as a guerrilla commentary on the economic resilience of Wall Street after the stock market crash that had happened earlier that year. It was only later that he sought a permit for it to […]

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A photo of the Fearless Girl statue and the bronze bull statue.

The Fearless Girl statue located in New York City’s financial district.
Photo credit: quietbits / Shutterstock

Thirty years ago, Arturo Di Modica illegally installed a massive bronze bull in the center of New York City’s financial district as a guerrilla commentary on the economic resilience of Wall Street after the stock market crash that had happened earlier that year. It was only later that he sought a permit for it to remain, and technically, it still has only a temporary permit, albeit one that has been allowed to persist due to the statue’s popularity.

Fearless Girl, a new statue of a young girl standing defiantly against the heavyweight symbol of capitalism, was also installed overnight, but her artist, Kristen Visbal, at least obtained a permit in the first place. Fearless Girl was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors for International Women’s Day in an effort to point out the lack of women in corporate boards (still less than 20% in the U.S.).

Fearless Girl was immediately popular, and Mayor De Blasio himself extended her temporary permit immediately.

“She spoke to the moment,” De Blasio told reporters. “She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration.” He openly alluded to the new tenure of President Trump and his boasts about sexually assaulting women in business.

But now Di Modica is mad. Angry enough that he is threatening to sue city authorities over the permitting of the new statue, claiming that she “changed the creative dynamic of his sculpture,” according to The Guardian. It will be interesting to see how he intends to prove that an addition of a statue some dozen yards away from his own, their only relationship that of juxtaposition in a crowded city, imposes on the artistic copyright of his own.

Can he argue that the public interpretation of the space is a part of his copyright? Perhaps. But how hypocritical is it for one guerrilla artist to object to another’s input?

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The National Liberty Museum Unveils Bong Art Exhibit http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/04/10/national-liberty-museum/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 18:02:48 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5270 Last Friday, April 7, the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia debuted a tendentious new art exhibit. The exhibit, called “The Treachery of Images,” features over 50 glass-blown bongs. But despite the intended use of bongs, Gwen Borowsky, CEO of the National Liberty Museum, maintains that the exhibit is not about getting high. “A lot of […]

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A glass-blown custom-made bong.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Last Friday, April 7, the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia debuted a tendentious new art exhibit. The exhibit, called “The Treachery of Images,” features over 50 glass-blown bongs.

But despite the intended use of bongs, Gwen Borowsky, CEO of the National Liberty Museum, maintains that the exhibit is not about getting high.

“A lot of people who buy these pieces buy them as pieces of art and not to smoke out of,” Borowsky stated. “These are pieces that you wouldn’t want to put a match to.”

Meegan Coll, the museum’s director of glass, agrees.

“Some of these glass pipes you can’t tell if they’re pipes or pieces of art,” Meegan Coll said in an interview with Fox News. “If you take a deeper look at these pieces you’ll see that they are amazing pieces of art as well as functional smoking devices. You really have to appreciate the art and the skill it takes to execute the creation of these pieces.”

So far, the bongs have been quite the hit (no pun intended). Borowsky says that the glass pieces have already generated interest from numerous buyers, despite their high (again, no pun unintended) price tag.

One of the most expensive pieces is called “Freija” and it is valued at $250,000. But that’s not unusual for this type of exhibit. In fact, most of the bongs on display are going for tens of thousands of dollars.

“This is a real underground movement and these artists in the past were worried that they would be arrested if they used their real names,” Coll explained. “It’s a tight-knit community and they are excited to see their work on display in a setting of a museum or gallery that one wouldn’t think would show this kind of stuff.”

The exhibit runs from April 7 to May 7, with high attendance numbers expected on 4/20.

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‘Artifax’ is Protesting Budget Cuts to the NEA by Faxing Art to Congress http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/04/04/artifax-faxing-art-congress/ Tue, 04 Apr 2017 14:54:08 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5263 If there’s anything this past election has shown us, it’s that there is more than one way to protest. Those who disagree with budget cuts to the NEA have taken to the streets to hold marches. They’ve written to their state representatives. They’ve made countless phone calls to government officials. And yet, they still feel […]

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A photo of a woman pressing the start button on a fax machine.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

If there’s anything this past election has shown us, it’s that there is more than one way to protest. Those who disagree with budget cuts to the NEA have taken to the streets to hold marches. They’ve written to their state representatives. They’ve made countless phone calls to government officials. And yet, they still feel like their voices aren’t being heard.

That’s where Artifax comes in. Artifax is protesting budget cuts to the NEA by faxing hundreds of pieces of artwork to members of Congress.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is under attack and it’s time to do something about it,” a statement from the Artifax website reads. “We’re faxing our elected officials about why the arts matter.”

Those who are interested in creating their own, customized message can do so through the Artifax website. Artifax has a variety of different templates to choose from, with plenty of room to write a personalized message.

Better yet, the process is simple and quick. Don’t know who your state representatives are? Just punch in your zip code and Artifax will provide you with a list of representatives to choose from.

But it still begs the question: why fax rather than write an email or place a phone call? A statement from the Artifax website answers this question in full:

“Calling Congress is important. The aspect of human, direct contact that phone calls provide make them much more impactful than emails, which can be easy for staffers to ignore. Voicemails get full, and faxes still have that material impact that commands attention; they’re physical, and inconveniencing, and that’s what it takes to convey an impactful message to your representatives.”

Never underestimate the power of the collective voice. When enough people speak out about an issue, it certainly does make a difference. Just take a look at what happened with the latest health care bill.

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Feminist Photo Series “Women Can Build” On Display Now http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/03/27/women-can-build/ Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:36:39 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5238 Deanne Fitzmaurice photographs the workday and the intimate, often blending the two together in startling ways. In 2005, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her photo series featuring the recovery of a 9-year-old Iraqi boy named Saleh, who was the victim of an IED. Her photos have been featured by everyone from Netflix to National […]

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An attractive woman wearing a yellow construction hat.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Deanne Fitzmaurice photographs the workday and the intimate, often blending the two together in startling ways. In 2005, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her photo series featuring the recovery of a 9-year-old Iraqi boy named Saleh, who was the victim of an IED. Her photos have been featured by everyone from Netflix to National Geographic. If you own a computer with Windows 10, her photos are among those they cycle through as backgrounds and lock screens.

Her extraordinary skills are now being celebrated by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) in honor of Women’s History Month.

In a joint effort with Jobs to Move America, the NYCDOT has spread an exhibition across two of their plazas in the Financial District of Manhattan. 16 of Fitzmaurice’s photographs, together with narrative descriptions, highlight women in the fields that build a city: work-site supervisors, train manufacturers, electrical engineers, welders, and bridge builders. All subjects are real, invited to be visible by Fitzmaurice’s skilled lens and embedded in history by being displayed alongside archival images of WWII-era women in factories and construction.

While the two displays make a point to feature the opportunities that exist and the progress that has been made, there is a subtext to the photos and the stories of these real women that can’t be missed: they all, particularly the women of color, have faced sex-specific hurdles in their workplaces. Women Can Build, Jobs to Move America, and the NYCDOT specifically call out companies and labor unions to examine their own practices for any ways to improve the opportunities for women and minorities.

While March is Women’s History Month, Women Can Build will be on view until mid-May. One site is at the intersection of Water Street and Gouverneur Lane. The other is at Water and Pearl. Check it out before it’s gone.

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The Art World Fights on at SFMOMA http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/03/24/art-world-sfmoma/ Fri, 24 Mar 2017 22:02:17 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5233 While the future of the National Endowment for the Arts may be in jeopardy, the exhibits it has helped fund continue to draw huge crowds at SFMOMA. Currently, the Matisse/Diebenkorn show is a particular favorite. High attendance numbers and individual donors may be the key to keeping exhibits like this one alive in a time […]

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A panorama picture taken at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Panorama picture taken at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
Photo credit: Shutterstock

While the future of the National Endowment for the Arts may be in jeopardy, the exhibits it has helped fund continue to draw huge crowds at SFMOMA. Currently, the Matisse/Diebenkorn show is a particular favorite. High attendance numbers and individual donors may be the key to keeping exhibits like this one alive in a time of financial uncertainty.

Much of the funding for Matisse/Diebenkorn comes from a record number of donors, lenders, and collectors, including investment banking legend Thom Weisel and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund.

“In SFMOMA’s 82-year history, I don’t think we’ve ever had an exhibition that boasts 32 sponsors,” said SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra in a Director’s Circle conversation with exhibit co-curator Janet Bishop.

Still, he noted, the support of national organizations like the NEA remain vital to these kinds of shows. “The value of great works of art has gone up in an extraordinary way, and that increase makes insurance valuations extraordinarily high. All great museums in this country have become dependent on the NEA’s indemnification of insurance costs. And we can’t make great exhibitions like Matisse/Diebenkorn without that support.”

The exhibit highlights the connection between Henri Matisse and Richard Diebenkorn, two of the 20th century’s greatest colorists. As a young art student in San Francisco, Diebenkorn became enamored of the Matisse pieces shown at SFMOMA, which had a huge influence on Diebenkorn’s art throughout his career.

The SFMOMA exhibit includes 100 paintings and drawings—40 by Matisse and 60 by Diebenkorn—showing the connection between their subjects, style, color, and techniques. It’s the result of a collaboration between SFMOMA and the Baltimore Museum of Art, where the exhibit was first shown last year. SFMOMA will be the exhibit’s only West Coast stop.

Matisse/Diebenkorn is an incredible story of artistic inspiration, revealing how Diebenkorn’s enduring fascination with Matisse informed his own body of work in substantive and often surprising ways,” said Janet Bishop, Thomas Weisel Family Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA. “The exhibition casts new light on two artists represented in depth in SFMOMA’s holdings, and, in fact, several of the Matisse paintings now in our collection were among the very first paintings by the French artist that Diebenkorn ever saw.”

Matisse/Diebenkorn runs at SFMOMA from March 11 to May 29.

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