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A Visit to the De Young Museum

I think that if I didn't live in Chicago, I would live in San Francisco (if I was richer, of course).

Another reason to add to the long list of things that would entice me here is the De Young museum, the one in the Golden Gate park that had the redesign by Herzog and De Meuron a few years ago. This is my third visit to SF, but my first to this area. The museum is, quite frankly, outstanding. I love the building, I loved the current exhibitions (one of which I will be reviewing for Hyperallergic), and I loved the permanent collection.

Instead of showing whole pictures, here are the details of some paintings that caught my attention.

A Willem de Kooning from 1977. What I notice: the dragged paint (squeegee, maybe), the collaged paint (he liked to press newspapers against the surface and then drag), the brushwork with a 1 inch brush, and then that heavy impasto that has crackled over the decades as it dried. A collection of mark making, his entire process displayed in a few square inches.

Same idea with a Diebenkorn. Thin paint, thick paint. Glaze and scumble. Quick areas and slow areas. Lines and dabbed points of paint. Aqua blue, blue, yellow, purple, more or less within the same tonal scale. A real painter at work.

But also a Diebenkorn from the early 1950s, paint thinned with turps to make pale stains on the canvasm slightly thicker splodges of paint with a round point brush, and then these lines that meander and drop and end in emphatic pressure of the brush.

Picasso, from the Willam S. Paley collection. Immense variety of mark making. A quarter inch brush, Picasso's favourite during his Cubist period, making well chosen and varied strokes in one direction and another, in grey, ochre, black, and white, pure paint straight from the tube, ending with thinned black paint and a pointed brush for details of tassels, the odds and ends of furniture.

What do you think? If you can identify the painter, I will send you one of my prints.  If you can identify the painter AND the painting, I will send you two of my prints.


  1. Hmm, if this is supposed to be a guessing game, should you have maybe not taken a picture of Matisse's signature? :) A little internet searching reveals the painting, but since I didn't know it straight off, I'll see if someone else can guess it.


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