Monday, December 9, 2013

Time Alone: The Solace of Art and Beauty

Encountering David Hockney and Anders Zorn at the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco

During this season, it seems to me that it is essential, absolutely essential to celebrate time alone. Day-dreaming, reading, walking along San Francisco Bay or the Seine, wandering, taking a beloved dog for an adventure, exploring, or gazing at clouds or doing yoga or singing, writing poetry, are perfect.

For me this often means heading during the week, end of the day, to one of the great museums of San Francisco. Or if I’m in Paris, it’s the Louvre. In London, Tate Britain. In New York, the Met. Somewhere quiet, hidden, to hang out with an artist’s thoughts and visions, and disappear from the world.

Two compelling and antithetical new exhibits—at the de Young Museum and at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor—make this private journey especially enticing. 

David Hockney
"Yosemite II, October 5th 2011"
iPad Drawing printed on six sheets of paper (71 3/4 x 35 3/4" each),
mounted on six sheets of Dibond
143 1/2 x 107 1/4" overall

At the de Young, there’s a vivid and ultra-current overview of David Hockney’s work. It’s boisterous—but there are new portraits, oils barely dry, that demand attention.

David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition, is on view at the de Young Museum through January 20, 2014. It marks the return to California of the influential and best-known British artist of his generation. 

Anders Zorn
Caique Oarsman, 1886
Watercolor, 35.5 x 50.5cm.
Zornmuseet, Mora

Over at the less-visited Legion museum, there’s the wonderfully dreamy collection of Anders Zorn paintings.

Zorn, you say? Scandinavian. Impressionist. A dreamer. His paintings of the exquisite Swedish summer, the Baltic landscape, and fleshy nudes that must have set Ingmar Berman thinking.

Come with me—and be inspired to secretly step into a museum in your town, your city. The world outside will stop—as you gather your thoughts and disappear from the hullabaloo of the season. 

David Hockney
"Self Portrait with Charlie" 2005
oil on canvas
72 x 36"

The new de Young show, curated by Gregory Evans, a survey of works from 2002 to the present, displays David Hockney’s mastery of different media, including his most recent foray into charcoal, as well as work on iPads, iPhones, digital video, and his first sustained engagement with watercolor. It includes portraits painted as recently as October 2013, when the exhibition was being mounted.

Designed exclusively for the de Young, the exhibition will not appear elsewhere.

About ten years ago, with Taschen, I published ‘California Interiors’. I worked closely with Angelika Taschen on the project. My favorite part of the book are the endpapers, which feature a vivid David Hockney painting of a blonde man, Gregory Evans, now the curator of this new exhibit, standing on the edge of a terrace in Malibu Canyon, and gazing down at a man swimming underwater in the turquoise pool. It’s totally California (dream) and was very Hockney of that period. Love it. — DDS

David Hockney
"Bridlington Rooftops, October, November, December" 2005
oil on canvas
48 x 60"

David Hockney
"Woldgate Woods, 30 March - 21 April " 2006
Oil On 6 Canvases (36 X 48" Each)
72 x 144" overall

David Hockney
"Woldgate Woods, 26, 27 & 30 July 2006"
Oil on 6 Canvases (36 X 48" Each)
72 x 144" overall

David Hockney
"Bigger Trees Nearer Warter, Winter 2008"
Oil on 9 canvases (36 x 48" each)
108 x 144" overall

David Hockney
"More Felled Trees on Woldgate" 2008
Oil on 2 canvases (60 x 48" each)
60 x 96" overall

Hockney Facts
David Hockney was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in the north of England, in 1937. 

Exhibition Catalogue The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Published on the occasion of this major exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, it is produced in collaboration with the artist’s studio, and includes recent work and rare in-progress photographs. 

David Hockney
"Self Portrait with Red Braces" 2003
watercolor on paper
24 x 18 1/8"

David Hockney
"A Bigger Matelot Kevin Druez 2" 2009
Inkjet printed computer drawing on paper, mounted on Dibond
63 7/8 x 42 7/8"

David Hockney
"A Bigger Message" 2010
Oil on 30 canvases (36 x 48" each)
180 x 288" overall

David Hockney
"Yosemite I, October 16th 2011"
iPad Drawing printed on six sheets of paper (71 3/4 x 42 3/4" each),
mounted on six sheets of Dibond
143 1/2 x 128 1/4" overall

David Hockney
"Four Views of Montcalm Terrace" 2003
Watercolor on four sheets of paper (17 1/8 x 24" each)
34 1/4 x 48" overall

Multi-Media: The Audio Guide
The Antenna International audio tour has been written and recorded to guide visitors through the largest show ever at the de Young. The tour features a blend of newly written content and interviews with the exhibition curator. Newly written audio content throughout the tour explores Hockney’s ability to switch media, from traditional painting to movie-making and digital works made on his iPad, with many in-depth discussions closely based on conversations with the artist himself on his creative process and approach to technique. Interviews with deputy director Richard Benefield include observations about Hockney’s newest and recent work. As Hockney continued working on a new portrait series right up until the opening of the show, an audio stop was written and recorded within weeks of the public seeing the artworks for the first time. The tour also features music by composers that especially resonate with Hockney.

“Hockney’s innovative mix of traditional techniques and experimentation with digital media made writing this tour especially exciting. I paid special attention to his process with digital creations so that the tour particularly resonates with contemporary visitors,” commented Frances Homan Jue, the tour’s writer. 

David Hockney
"Self Portrait, 17 December" 2012
Charcoal on paper
30 1/4 x 22 5/8"

David Hockney
"Woldgate, 6-7 February, from 'The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty
Charcoal on paper
22 5/8 x 30 1/4"

David Hockney
"Margaret Hockney, 14 February" 2013
Charcoal on paper
30 1/4 x 22 5/8"

David Hockney
"Woldgate, 16 & 26 March, from 'The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty
Charcoal on paper
22 5/8 x 30 1/4"

And in counterpoint at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor:  The lyricism and romanticism of the Scandinavian painter, Anders Zorn

Anders Zorn
Summer Vacation, 1886
29 7⁄8 x 22 1⁄16 in. (76 x 56 cm)

I first encountered the impressionist paintings of Anders Zorn in the National Museum in Stockholm some time ago. Although he worked in Paris in the early twentieth century, and is one of the heroic painters of Scandinavian light and the romantic past, his idyllic confections never seem to have traveled much beyond Denmark and Sweden. 

Anders Zorn
Self-Portrait in Red, 1915
Oil on canvas, 47 ¼ x 35 7/16 in. (120 x 90 cm)

Zorn paints light—in particular, summer light in the Archipelago, which lingers on, bright and sunny, until almost midnight. He paints water, sky, islands, portraits, family, gardens, with lyricism and purity. 

Anders Zorn
Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice, 1894
Oil on canvas
35 13⁄16 x 26 in. (91 x 66 cm)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Anders Zorn
Self-Portrait with Model, 1896
Oil on canvas, 46 1/16 x 37 in. (117 x 94 cm)
seum, Stockholm

Anders Zorn 
Midsummer Dance, 1897
Oil on canvas, 55 1/8 x 38 9/16 in. (140 x 98 cm)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 

Anders Zorn
Coquelin Cadet, 1889
Oil on canvas, 45 7/8 x 32 1/8 in. (116.5 x 81.5 cm)
seum, Stockholm 

Anders Zorn, 
Omnibus, 1891–1892 (pl. 45)
Oil on canvas, 39 1/8 x 26 in. (99.5 x 66 cm)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 

Anders Zorn
The Little Brewery, 1890
Oil on canvas, 18 ¾ x 30 11/16 in. (47.5 x 78 cm)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Anders Zorn
Self-Portrait, 1882
Watercolor, 9 7/16 x 6 5/16 in. (24 x 16 cm)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Master Painter:   Through February 2, 2014
The exhibit brings together one hundred of the artist’s oil paintings, watercolors, etchings, and sculptures.

Anders Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920) was one of the world’s most famous living artists at the turn of the twentieth century, known for his subtle painting and printmaking techniques. Although he was a hugely successful portrait painter in the U.S.—depicting captains of industry, members of society, and three U.S. Presidents—there has been only one other major American retrospective in the last century examining Zorn’s work. 

Anders Zorn
Castles in the Air, 1885
Watercolor, 14 /16 x 10 ¼ in. (37 x 26 cm)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Anders Zorn
The Bride, 1886
Watercolor, 30 5/16 x 21 7/8 in. (77 x 55.5 cm)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Anders Zorn
Zorn and His Wife, 1890
Etching (A 43), second state
12 1/2 x 8 5⁄16 in. (31.7 x 21.1 cm)
Zornmuseet, Mora

During the 1880s and 1890s Zorn lived in London and Paris, where he became acquainted with key figures of the Belle Époque, including James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Auguste Rodin, as well as many of the French Impressionists. He also gained commissions and befriended prominent collectors such as Isabella Stewart Gardner, who would become an important patron. Zorn’s painting, Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice (1894, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston) appears in this exhibition. 

Anders Zorn 
River under Old Stone Bridge, 1884 
Watercolor, 9 3/16 x 13 7/8 in. (23.3 x 35.2 cm) 
Zornmuseet, Mora 

Anders Zorn
The Thorn Bush, 1886
Watercolor, 15 5/8 x 21 1/16 in. (39.8 x 53.5 cm)Zornmuseet, Mora

Trained at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. In this exhibition, Midsummer Dance (1897, National Museum, Stockholm), has long been considered one of Sweden’s national treasures, and it rarely leaves the country.
Anders Zorn
In Alhambra Park, 1887
Watercolor, 19 7/8 x 13 7/8 in. (50.5 x 35.3 cm)
Zornmuseet, Mora

“Zorn’s international success ultimately bears witness to the universal language of his art,” said James A. Ganz, curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the coordinator of this project in San Francisco. “This exhibition promises to be a revelation for those yet to discover one of Sweden’s most accomplished and beloved artists.”

Exhibition Catalogue 
The illustrated catalogue explores the life and work of a masterful painter who was born in a small Swedish village and rose to international acclaim. Four authors present a detailed portrait of Zorn’s life and work, his career in the United States, his oeuvre in the context of Nordic art, and his printmaking activity. Also featuring a comprehensive chronology and historical photographs, this book reveals a painter traditional yet modern; cosmopolitan yet indelibly connected to his Swedish homeland.

And who better than Joan Didion, in ‘Blue Nights’, her recent memoir about the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne, to remind us of the importance of quiet, reflective, conscious solitude: 

“Do not whine. Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.”  — Joan Didion

Anders Zorn
Reveil, boulevard Clichy, 1892
14 3⁄16 x 9 7⁄16 in. (36 x 24 cm) 

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco. 

The de Young is housed in a copper-clad landmark building designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. It showcases the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; a diverse collection of costumes and textiles; and international contemporary art. 

The Legion of Honor’s Beaux-Arts style building designed by George Applegarth is located on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its collections span 4,000 years and include European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

All images courtesy The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, San Francisco:

The de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. de Young Museum
Herbst Exhibition Galleries, @deyoungmuseum, #abiggerexhibition

David Hockney
"The Jugglers" 2012
Eighteen digital videos synchronized and presented on eighteen 55-inch
NEC screens to comprise a single artwork (27 x 47 7/8" each)
81 x 287" overall
Duration: 22:13


MJH Design Arts said...

Thank you, I needed this reminder to take time apart. To breath in creative spirits. To simply be.

Karena said...

Dear Diane,
I am astonished by David Hockney's works on multiple canvases and the multimedia creations. These are so lush and vivid.

Zorn's luminous works are stunning. LOve his Isabella Stewart portrait and Self Portrait with Model.

The Arts by Karena

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Diane,

So glad to see you cover these 2 wonderful exhibits. Loved the Hockney esp the slow mo videos. So peaceful.

I have never heard of Anders Zorn until this amazing show. A contemporary of John Singer Sargent who is so famous. Why have we not heard of Zorn until now. Amazing.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. Keep up the fascinating work on your entertaining blog.

very best,


Kathryn MacDonald

Kathryn MacDonald Photography & Web Marketing

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


My dear friend--the great perfumer--DelRae Roth, send me the following message.

What a wonderful way to begin my day this time of year.
thank you

Sent from my iPad

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

I received some wonderful emails in response to this art/Hockney/Zorn post.

Among them:

Absolutely wonderful post! Thank you so much.

Patricia Irwin


Thank you! Happy holidays! LISA PODOS

and a message from the great design author, Meredith Etherington-Smith:

Dear Diane - what a lovely Christmas present! Thank you so much

- Meredith

I am so happy to hear from everyone--and I'm so pleased this post--The Solace of Art and Beauty--has touched many readers.

I wish you all happiness and joy in the coming months--DIANE

Unknown said...

I'm so inspired - scheduling time next week to go see Hockney. Thank you so much! CHLOE WARNER

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Chloe-

You have a busy life--with your family and your design practice and so much else--so a quick drive over to the Legion and a slow wander through the Zorn exhibition, would be almost as good as a vacation. Plus the ocean air out there in Lincoln Park is especially fresh. Happy Holidays, DIANE