San Francisco’s thriving arts scene is one of the biggest draws of this vibrant and eclectic city. The Bay Area’s first big manifestation of its artistic prowess came in the 50s and 60s at the height of the Beat Generation. While Eastern philosophy was gaining popularity through Alan Watts and his contemporaries, Allen Ginsburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and their posse were taking the poetry world by storm.
Meanwhile, artists in the visual realm began to enter the West Coast’s thriving cultural arena. Influenced by Abstract Expressionism movement on the East Coast, visual artists such as Bruce Conner and Jay DeFeo set out to experiment with cross-disciplinary approach to art. Collages, experimental films, and sculptures assembled with “found” materials. By the 60s, many other artists had become popular oi the scene. This artists circle included the likes of Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Bruce Nauman, and many more.
Today, San Francisco’s myriad museums, non-profit art centers, and independent galleries provide a creative space for artists and art admirers to enjoy their craft. The de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, first established in 1895, is one of the oldest and finest of these institutions. With a vast collection spanning everything from European painting and American contemporary photography to ancient Oceanic woodcarvings and 15th Century Central Asian silks.
The best part of the de Young museum is that it constantly features new, temporary exhibits comprised of art from its own collection as well as famous collections from museums and art collectors around the world.
Currently the de Young Museum is hosting an exhibition called Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert and Jayne Meyerhoff Collection. As is implied by its name, the exhibition showcases the work of the Meyerhoff Collection, including over 50 pieces by the great masters of post-war art to San Francisco. Artists include Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella. None of these works have ever been on display outside the Greater D.C. and greater Baltimore area before, so the de Young is very excited to be the exclusive venue of this exhibition. Some of the highlights you’ll see include Lichtenstein’s Painting with the Statue of Liberty and Johns’ Perilous Night. Additionally, Barnett Newman’s 15-piece series of paintings titled The Stations of the Cross will be on display in a chapel-like gallery devoted entirely to this work.
In addition to the de Young Museum, a Go San Francisco Card attractions pass will grant you admission into several of the area’s best artistic and cultural attractions. Just some of the other favorite sites include the Cartoon Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, the Beat Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. You’ll also be near by the California Academy of Sciences and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge!