Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bookworm, the art critic

Today I visited for the first time the entirely rebuilt De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. My review is mixed, but it's a good one where it really counts: the collection. The outside is one of those new industrial style buildings so in vogue for new museums. (See here and here, for example.) See? Up close, I thought it looked very much like a chicken coop, with the tower, depending on your angle, looking like a guard tower at a prison or a cargo container. These visual irritations fade away, though, when you're inside. The lobby is a bit too big and unfocused, but the rest is marvelous. The tower is a viewing platform, with a 360 degree view of the City. The weather was pretty clear today, and the view was just lovely. I also really enjoyed the art collection. I had the kids with me, so didn't have the time (they didn't have the patience) to make it past the Americana, but that alone was impressive. I recognized a lot of old favorites (since I grew up visiting the De Young regularly) but was also delighted to see a lot of new (to my eyes) art. I suspect that the old museum was simply too small to display the whole collection. The curator[s] also did a wonderful job displaying the art works. There's a really sophisticated organization, with things grouped in an interesting an progressive way. For example, there's a room full of American still lives, from the 18th Century to the present. They're all beautiful paintings, and it was fascinating to see the artistic progression. One of the most imaginative displays involved a 19th Century painting of a man sitting by a dead mountain lion, with the man holding a revolver and a knife. In a case immediately in front of the painting, one sees an old revolver and an equally old knife, both of which look remarkably like the images in the painting. The curators haven't finished labeling everything, so one couldn't tell if the revolver and knife are actually the ones in the painting, but it was still a great connection between image and reality. If you find yourself in the City, I strongly urge you to take the time to visit the new De Young. I think you'll definitely find it worth the effort and expense.