press release American Icons : Masterworks from

press release
American Icons :
Masterworks from SFMOMA and
the Fisher Collection
8 april – 22 jun 2015
Grand Palais
Galeries nationales, galerie Sud-Est
entrance avenue Winston Churchill
11 july – 18 october 2015
Musée Granet
An exhibition organised by the San Francisco Museum of
Modern Art, the Réunion des musées nationaux - Grand
Palais and musée Granet.
The exhibition American Icons: Masterworks from the SFMOMA and the Fisher Collection presents 49
emblematic works taken from one of the world’s largest collections of art from the second half of the twentieth
century. It is historic on two counts: it is the first presentation of works from the San Francisco Museum of
Modern Art (SFMOMA), and the collection of Donald and Doris Fisher brought together by an exceptional
partnership developed over many years, and it prefigures the major expansion project at the SFMOMA.
Indeed the SFMOMA houses the works accumulated by the Fisher family, one of the biggest private collections
of modern and contemporary art in the world. Now numbering over 1,100 works by 185 artists, the Doris
and Donald Fisher collection began in the family’s home town of San Francisco in the 1970s and expanded
rapidly in the late 1980s and the 1990s.
The SFMOMA has established an historic partnership with the Fisher family to share this extraordinary
collection with the San Francisco public. The Fishers’ works will be exhibited alongside works from the
SFMOMA collection in the museum’s new expansion. Although the two collections are not exhaustive, they are
both remarkable in their decision to concentrate on certain artists of whom they own a considerable number
of works. Both collections include American and European artists who began their careers in the 1960s and
1970s; many of them are still active today. Bringing the two collections together had a complementary effect
for many of these artists and some now consider that their work is better represented in this ensemble than
in any other museum or public collection in the world.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), founded in 1935, is the oldest museum of modern
art still in activity, after the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is also the first museum on the West Coast
dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art. Built up largely through donations from the great fortunes
of the West Coast, the SFMOMA’s collection offers a panorama of American art from the post-war period to
the present day. Housing the extraordinary Fisher collection permits the SFMOMA to rival with the world’s
greatest modern and contemporary art galleries.
Since 2013, the museum has been closed for expansion and has decided to send its exceptional collection
of artworks on tour; in France they will be shown in the south-east gallery of the Grand Palais. The Grand
Palais will host the greatest 20th-century American artists especially from the post-war period: Andy Warhol,
Sol LeWitt, Wall Grid (3 x 3), 1966, Bois peint, 180,3 x 180,3 x 5,1 cm, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major
Accessions © Adagp, Paris 2015 © SFMOMA / photo Ben Blackwell
Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn, Chuck Close and
many more. The names are impressive, but the quality of the works on display is no less outstanding:
Warhol’s Red Liz, Lichtenstein’s Tire, portraits by Chuck Close…
The richness and density of the collection make American Icons: Masterworks from the SFMOMA and the
Fisher Collection one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of American art ever shown.
It presents an outstanding collection, but is above all an opportunity to set up a dialogue between works that
have never been brought together before and the French public.
The selection focuses on the paintings and sculptures of fourteen American artists, some of whom, better
promoted in the United States than in France, are particularly well represented. Most belong to the generation
of painters who followed Abstract Expressionism and navigated between abstraction and representation to
reach a new understanding of the use of colour, formalism and figurative painting. Alexander Calder and
Ellsworth Kelly illustrate the early developments of abstract art. Some of the best known examples of Pop Art
and Minimalism, two movements which appeared simultaneously in New York in the early 1960s, are also on
show. Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol of course incarnate Pop Art while Minimalism and the beginnings of
Conceptual Art are represented by Carl André, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. Pictorial abstraction
takes shape in works by Richard Diebenkorn, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin and Cy Twombly. Lastly, the
paintings of Chuck Close and Philip Guston synthesize the influences of Pop Art, Minimalism and Abstraction
in their figurative works.
By presenting 3-7 works for each artist, the exhibition gives France and Europe a foretaste of the spirit and
quality of the new SFMOMA, scheduled to reopen in Spring 2016.
curator: Gary Garrels, senior curator of painting and sculpture at the SFMOMA, in collaboration with Laurent
Salomé, scientific director of Réunion des musées nationaux - Grand Palais
exhibition design: Bill Katz and Nicolas Adam
open: every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
(except Tuesdays). Late-night opening
until 10 p.m. on Wednesdays.
publications by the Réunion des
musées nationaux - Grand Palais, Paris,
prices: €12, €9 concession (16-25-yearolds, jobseekers, large families). Free for
all visitors under 16, income support beneficiaries and state pensioners.
- exhibition catalogue, 24,5 x 29 cm, 208
pages, 150 ill., €35
access: metro line 1 and 13 “Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau” or line 9 “Franklin
press contacts :
Réunion des musées nationaux
- Grand Palais
254-256 rue de Bercy
75 577 Paris cedex 12
Florence Le Moing
[email protected]
01 40 13 47 62
Svetlana Stojanovic
[email protected]
01 40 13 49 95
Informations and booking on :
thanks to the generous support of:
Mécène d’honneur