Hey young (and more seasoned) art lovers -- here's some 2011 gallery musts
EVA HESSE: "STUDIOWORK"
A belated coda of sorts to the large Hesse retrospective SFMOMA held back in 2002, this show focuses on the small, makeshift pieces that the sculptor would use as test runs or sketches of her larger works-in-progress. A friend once described Hesse's amalgams of latex, wire-mesh, wax, fiberglass, and cheesecloth as "sad sacks," but I don't think that designation covers the range of effect her work elicits. There's exuberance, playfulness, and even eroticism, to be found in her manipulation of the above industrial materials; all qualities I hope shine through in even these self-consciously "minor" works of an artist who was anything but. Also on tap at BAM for August is a retrospective of the stunning collage work of another German, painter Kurt Schwitters. Pencil it in. Jan. 26-April 10. Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft, Berk. (510) 642-0808, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.
"THE STEINS COLLECT"
Gertrude Stein famously wore Balmain and had her portrait painted by Picasso. Lady knew how to live. So too, apparently, did her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael's wife, Sarah, who also collected art, held salons, and became important linchpins in Paris' avant-garde circles in the early 1900s, after they expatriated from the family seat in Oakland. I hope this exhibit shines as much light on the Steins' formative role in helping bringing modern art to the Bay as it does on the Matisses, Cezannes, Renoir, Picassos, and Bonnards they fervently acquired. May 21-Sept. 6. SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.