Visual Art

"Brad Noble: Chaotic Resolve"

Productive opacity and surrealist abstraction
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The recent Washington Post obituary of Andrew Wyeth reveals that the figurative painter considered himself an abstract artist, because he didn't depict but rather evoked a metaphysical vision. This idea is at least as old as 1907, when antimodernist Max Nordau hurled it as an accusation at French symbolist Puvis de Chavannes, and while few use the word abstract with this meaning, I find the conception sympathetic rather than pejorative. If we can call it a lineage, then Brad Noble is part of it. Read more »

Martin Puryear

There's a lot to surprise - and refresh - the eye in this Puryear retrospective
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REVIEW It's exhilarating to see, upon entering the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's atrium, one of Martin Puryear's most renowned works, Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996), installed with such noiseless bravura: the 36-foot sapling grows slender and seems to disappear even faster into space as it floats above the elevators. Read more »

"A Trip Down (False) Memory Lane"

Curator Jessica Silverman taps into legendary queer bar history
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PREVIEW The Lexington Club is an underground landmark of San Francisco. If you're queer, and especially if you're a lesbian, the bar has probably played a role in your life at one point or another, and something important probably went down there, by the jukebox or in a graffiti-lined bathroom. Read more »

"Pinball as Art and the Art of the Pinball"

William T. Wiley's solo show takes pinball seriously
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PREVIEW One Bay Area artwork that made an impression in 2008 was William T. Wiley's Punball: Only One Earth. Read more »

Best in show

The Year in Visual Arts 2008
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YEAR IN REVIEW The time is right to pay tribute to the Bay Area's artists and galleries. Read more »

Don't look back

Art in 2008 recedes like nobody's business, and it might be time to come home
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Twelve months ago, as I sat down to write a year-end appraisal of 2007, I was still in awe of "© Murakami," the Takashi Murakami show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. It brilliantly captured the crass apex of global capitalism, mostly through celebrity-studded receptions and the appropriated — call it sculptural — form of a Louis Vuitton boutique. What a difference a year makes. Read more »

Picks, pans, and a top 10

Artists and curators sound off on 2008
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CHUCK MOBLEY, CURATOR AT SF CAMERAWORK

Pan: SF Art Institute's furlough

A humble proposal to those laid off for a month: exchange your individual voice for a collective one and begin intervening by employing the crafty tools of activism as an artful device of communication in order to effect positive change for your institution. Read more »

"Dream On!"

Mission 17's juried show shows thoughtfulness and promise
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PREVIEW 'Tis the season for Bay Area art to slow to a near standstill. Many galleries are closed through 2008. Those still open tend to favor group shows that double as holiday sales — a tough proposition this year. Mission 17 is bucking the trend with "Dream On!," a juried exhibition put together by director-curator Clark Buckner and three others. The show's dream theme is a mighty wide one. Read more »

"incidental films for an accidental audience"

Michael Damm's ephemeral outdoor projections in transit spaces
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PREVIEW The Bay Area is no stranger to outdoor projection: the past few years alone have brought Melinda Stone and Liz Keim's "A Trip Down Market Street" program; a series of "Illuminated Corridor" get-togethers in Oakland; and of course, numerous installments of Film Night in the Park. But Michael Damm's "incidental films for an accidental audience" is something new — a more ephemeral, relatively (in the artist's words) "unannounced" projection event taking place in various transit spaces or zones. Read more »

Beauty, reappraised

Two looks at the serious pleasures of "Yves Saint Laurent: 40 Years of Fashion"
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First look by Matt Sussman:

The deYoung Museum's retrospective of the late, great Yves Saint Laurent's 40-year career designing haute couture comes at an awkward moment for fashion and its fans. With the country facing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, "recessionista" is the buzzword du jour and Vogue and its ilk are trading their trend watches for old bromides such as "investment pieces" and "necessary luxuries."Read more »