I had the great good fortune to visit the MH de Young Museum in San Francisco this week and experience both the Richard Diebenkorn and the Bulgari exhibits. The beauty of the jewelry in the Bulgari exhibit was staggering and the energy of Diebenkorn’s paintings invigorating.
While Diebenkorn’s work may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s certainly not what most people are going to want hanging in their homes, it must be remembered that he was an explorer and innovator, pushing the envelope and taking art to new horizons. He was a forerunner in the Non-objective Expressionism movement. He was also largely responsible for bringing focus to the West Coast. Prior to that, there was very little interest in anything being done outside of New York. I took several classes from him while I was a student at The California Collage of Arts and Crafts and so it was quite thrilling to walk into the exhibition and see a painting that I had watched him do as a classroom demonstration.
Although some of his earliest works in the exhibition are reminiscent of Paul Klee he soon went on to explore expansive new frontiers creating imagery that was not always comfortable.
The Bulgari exhibit is the personification of pure, over the top, no holds barred opulence and obvious consumption but still within the bounds of supreme good taste. That’s what sets the artist apart. One room of the exhibit is dedicated to pieces that were owned by Elizabeth Taylor, including an exquisite piece that she commissioned but never wore. She donated it to be auctioned at Christie’s Auction house for the benefit of AIDS awareness.
The de Young Museum, in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has over the years, played host to some of the words finest art collections. It hosted the King Tut exhibit and an excellent exhibition of Impressionist paintings. It had played host to Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Rembrandt, The Girl With the Pearl Earring - Dutch Masters, Masters of the Renaissance, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Treasures from the Vatican.
The MH de Young is a treasure in and of it’s self and it’s right in our own back yard. The superb treasures from around the world that our museum makes available to us educate our minds and enrich our souls. In a time when there is so much talk about the inappropriateness of man, (the war we wage on each other, the damage we are doing to the environment,) I find it both restorative and empowering to be reminded that my specie is also capable of creating such treasures as these.
Although the Diebenkorn exhibit ends this weekend, the Bulgari exhibition continues through February 17, 2014. The museum is also playing host to numerous excellent exhibits, both permanent and traveling.
To fully enjoy all that the museum has to offer, make a day of it. Plan on lunching in the Museums fine café or terrace or bring a picnic to enjoy on one of the parks many lovely greens. It’s our park. It’s our museum. Take advantage of it. Not all communities are so blessed.