Compiled by Gary Meyer
A guide to cinematic exhibits in California
This autumn offers a terrific opportunity for movie fans to experience museum and gallery exhibits by and about films and filmmakers. Many of these venues have adventurous year-round film and video schedules in their theaters. When a moving image exhibit is presented it allows for extra related screening programs.
This overview is broken into three separate regional articles.
No doubt there are shows we do not know about from the thousands of art and science venues across the country. We have not even looked at the international scene.
If you know of any exhibits please alert our readers by adding them to our Facebook page.
Most of our notes are adapted from the exhibit website with some personal comments italicized. We have seen all of the San Francisco area shows that had opened at the time of this writing, two current shows at MOMA, NY and the Museum of the Moving Image and can highly recommend them all. An upcoming visit to New York will include some new presentations.
San Francisco Bay Area
Through, Sunday, October 30, 2016
San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum,San Francisco
I saw this exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum nearly two years ago. It is a stunning collection of images looking behind-the-scenes with sketches, production notes, props, costumes, correspondence, budgets, storyboards, scripts, masks, film clips, models (the War Room from Dr. Strangelove and space vehicles from 2001 stand out) and much more. There are photos Kubrick took as a kid and some of those he did for Life and Look magazines plus large photographs by Weegee of the deleted Dr. Strangelove pie fight. Two visits to The Jewish have been worthwhile as they have imported about 3/4ths of the items from the LA County show and have added a number of new pieces.
With the current Pinocchio exhibit at the Disney Museum, I can think of no better way to really understand how movies are made. Give yourself time to absorb it all. And after you tour the main exhibit space, make sure to go into the small space near the staircase where there are binders of fascinating notes, letters and articles about the films that offer further insights, plus display cases filled with many of Kubrick’s favorite cameras.
“Stanley Kubrick exerted complete artistic control over his projects; in doing so, he reconceived the genres in which he worked. The exhibition covers the breadth of Kubrick’s achievements, beginning with his photographs for LOOK magazine taken in the 1940s, and continuing with his directorial achievements of the 1950s through the 1990s. In addition, the exhibition explores Napoleon and Aryan Papers, two projects that Kubrick never completed, and the technological advances developed by Kubrick and his team.”
Exhibition website with links to articles.
The original exhibition was created by the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt, offering a website rich with information, virtual tour, excerpts from the exhibition catalog (for sale with many other books on Kubrick at the CJM bookstore) and much more.
Through Monday, January 9, 2017
The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco
The incredible John Canemaker explored thousands of items to create this exhibit that, like everything at the Disney, pulls us into the subject and offers unique insights into the making of one of what I think is one the most beautiful animated films ever made.
If you have never been to the museum I suggest either two visits or spend the morning looking at Pinocchio and after lunch take your time with the permanent displays. It is a lot to take in.
“Wish Upon a Star: The Art of Pinocchio is a never-before-seen exhibition created by the museum and guest-curated by John Canemaker—an Academy Award®, Emmy Award, and Peabody Award-winning independent animator, animation historian, teacher, and author—this immersive exhibition invites the visitor to experience the production processes of the pre-digital era for the making of Walt Disney’s 1940 feature-length masterpiece Pinocchio, providing a glimpse into how legendary animators worked and thought. Pinocchio inspired advances in character development and three-dimensional design, and the exhibition allows guests to enjoy the art created by the animators and designers to create the stunning work featured in the film.
Showcasing more than 300 objects, this unique, original exhibition takes a closer look at the settings, color, mood, character relationships, and style of this remarkable film, which has dazzled audiences for over 75 years.”
Through Tuesday, November 27, 2016
Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California
The displayed non-film works on a small wall outside the three screen Runs Good are beautiful and rarely seen but it the films that you come to see. There are ongoing screenings in Theater Two everyday and some on the outdoor screen. It is unfortunate that the screenings of his feature masterpieces Water and Power and Trouble in the Image had single screenings at the start of the exhibit.
“Los Angeles-based artist Pat O’Neill (b. 1939), a pioneer of avant-garde film and optical printing techniques, creates densely layered films and moving-image environments that explore the hybrid and expanded terrain of film, photography, and sculpture. A founding faculty member at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 1970, O’Neill has been a key figure in West Coast experimental cinema for the past fifty years. His innovative use of the optical printer, which enables filmed images to be manipulated and altered directly on celluloid, marked a creative breakthrough in composite image-making in film.
PAT O’NEILL MATRIX 262 features a wide selection of the films O’Neill has made since the 1960s, which will be shown on BAMPFA’s multiple screens—the Barbro Osher Theater, Theater Two, and the outdoor screen—at various times throughout the run of the exhibition. Examples of O’Neill’s sculpture, photography, and works on paper will be on view in the galleries alongside Runs Good(1970/2012), which will be shown continuously as a three-channel projection.”
O’Neill discusses Runs Good here:
Through Friday, December 23, 2016
Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California
“Mind Over Matter showcases BAMPFA’s holdings of Conceptual art, including the recently acquired Steven Leiber collection. Emphasizing language-based works and performance documentation, the exhibition includes works on paper, photography, mail art, artist books, film and video (including Media Burn by Ant Farm), and ephemera by James Lee Byars, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Fluxus, the Museum of Conceptual Art, and others.”
Through Saturday, October 22, 2016- Prints from this show and previous exhibitions of Theaters can be viewed by request after the exhibit closes.
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
A stunning collection timed with the publication of a new book, Hiroshi Sugimoto: Theaters, collecting all of the artist’s past and recent theater photographs. Previous photos in this series have tended to be smaller but these large-format images are hauntingly beautiful.
“Fraenkel Gallery presents the first U.S. exhibition of new, large-format photographs of abandoned theaters by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Sugimoto began his artistic exploration of movie theaters in the late 1970s and continued throughout the 1990s, creating each photograph in a working theater while a film was being projected on a screen. In Remains to be Seen the artist has taken his poetic study of movie palaces further in time, to the point of architectural extinction. His new series of photographs look deeply into the seductive details of theaters that have been neglected and fallen into ruin.
As in the artist’s earlier photographs of movie houses, the exposure time is the entire length of the film being projected. However, for his recent work, the artist has personally chosen the specific films and brought them to these derelict theaters in which movies are no longer screened. To create his photograph of the Paramount Theater in Newark, New Jersey, for example, the exposure time was 134 minutes while Sugimoto projected On the Beach (1959), the post-apocalyptic film about nuclear war directed by Stanley Earl Kramer.”
An interview with Sugimoto about this show.
Through Sunday, October 30, 2016
I found Julia Scher’s Predictive Engineering to be fun while a bit unnerving, wondering if I would suddenly be on the screens as there are cameras throughout the museum intercut with footage from previous version of the piece. But I kept watching and she accomplishes what she wants.
Filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul is an acquired taste and I am still working on it. But I found his Phantoms of Nabua both beautiful and eerie. Have a seat and you will soon be under its spell with the screen’s image the only light in the room. On the screen is projected another screen of lightning and young men burning a hut. You have to be there.
“FILM AS PLACE is a thematic presentation centering on the notion of place from a variety of temporal and geographical angles. The five featured artists address specific locations as a meeting of history, geography, and cultural conditions. The exhibition highlights Julia Scher’s Predictive Engineering, a surveillance-based installation first conceived for SFMOMA’s original Van Ness building in 1993, now restaged for a third iteration in response to both the Snøhetta–designed expansion and current technology landscape, as well as Beryl Korot’s seminal Dachau 1974 (1974), an early multi-monitor video installation. An adjoining gallery will rotate projections by three leading international artists: Shadow Sites II (2011) by Jananne Al-Ani (May 14 through July 10), The Pixelated Revolution (2012) by Rabih Mroué (July 16 through September 5), and Phantoms of Nabua (2009) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (September 10 through October 30). Together, the works in Film as Place not only offer an investigation of the local presence of history, but also reveal how time-based situations and narratives are perceived through a cinematic and political lens.”
Through Sunday, October 30, 2016
“Not So Quiet Please! A unique photo exhibit of surviving neon signs and historic images of San Francisco iconic neon signs and neon-laden streets. Who hasn’t been drawn to the warmth of a neon sign on a cold, foggy San Francisco night? They add an allure to the city with their unique style and graphics. While some are new, others are fading beauties that speak of a different time. In the book, San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons, authors Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan shed new light on the backdrop and the history of the city’s neon signs, the luminous beacons that help tell the story of the town’s neighborhoods, its nightlife, movie theaters and its fun-loving nature. Over the span of five years, Barna and Homan photographed more than 200 hundred images of neon signs from the Mission to the Marina.”
Read related neon articles in EatDrinkFilms.
October 29, 2016 – January 22, 2017
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
“Bruce Conner: It’s All True is the first comprehensive retrospective of this pivotal American artist’s incredible output, bringing together over 250 objects in various media, including film and video, works on paper, assemblages, photographs and photograms, performance, and more.”
Read Doniphan Blair’s extensive article in cineSOURCE
New Yorker review by Andrea K. Scott from the summer, 2016 show at New York’s MOMA.
Saturday, November 5- April 30, 2017
De Young Museum, San Francisco
Danny Lyon, Self-portrait, Chicago, 1965. Gelatin silver prints montage. 12 1/4 × 10 15/16 in. (31.2 × 27.8 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
The last major show of Danny Lyon’s work was the powerful This World is Not My Home at the de Young in 2012 and this major retrospective is a welcome return. I spent the better part of an afternoon because this is not a “Greatest Hits” show but an in depth study of the artist. Organized into subject matter and project groups in individual rooms, there were photos from smaller projects and trips in the transitional spaces at the new Whitney. The films are shown in darkened rooms and listening stations are available for the tape recordings.
The exhibit was organized by Julian Cox for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the de Young will offer an expanded collection which means I will be going to see it again here, probably more than once. I suggest you consider breaking up a day into morning and afternoon visits or plan two visits with a balanced mixture of photographs and films for each part of your journey. You will want to get close to the images so if it is possible to attend mid-week it should be better. I talked my way into a members’ preview day so was spoiled by the relatively empty galleries.
Danny Lyon will be attendance at the opening. Full schedule of related programs here.
Danny Lyon Stephanie, Sandoval County, New Mexico, 1970. Vintage gelatin silver print (decorated). 11 × 14 in. (27.9 × 35.6 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is the first comprehensive retrospective of the career of Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942) to be presented in 25 years.
The exhibition assembles approximately 175 photographs, related films, and ephemeral materials to highlight Lyon’s concern with documenting social and political issues and the welfare of individuals considered by many to be on the margins of society. The presentation includes many objects that have seldom or never been exhibited before and offers a rare look at selections from Lyon’s archives alongside important loans from public and private collections in the United States. This is also the first exhibition to assess the artist’s achievements as a filmmaker.
A leading figure in the American street photography movement of the 1960s, Lyon has distinguished himself by the personal intimacy he establishes with his subjects and the inventiveness of his practice. With his ability to find beauty in the starkest reality, Lyon has through his work provided a charged alternative to the bland vision of American life often depicted in the mass media.
Vogue magazine’s Rebecca Bengal discusses the photos and the films.
Through Sunday, November 27, 2016
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is the filmmaker’s first museum retrospective. The exhibition explores del Toro’s creative process by bringing together elements from his films —Cronos (1993) and continuing through The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Pacific Rim (2013), and Crimson Peak (2015)— objects from his vast personal collections, drawings from his notebooks, and approximately 60 objects from LACMA’s permanent collection. The diverse range of media—including sculpture, paintings, prints, photography, costumes, ancient artifacts, books, maquettes, and film— totals approximately 500 objects and reflects the broad scope of del Toro’s inspirations.
The exhibition catalogue is available at the museum and via Amazon.
Open-ended but advance ticket purchases suggested
California Science Center, Los Angeles
Enjoy a unique look into the Pixar filmmaking process, and explore the science and technology behind some of the most beloved animated films and their characters with the west coast premiere of THE SCIENCE BEHIND PIXAR. This 12,000 sq. ft. interactive exhibition showcases the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts used by the artists and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s award-winning films to the big screen.
With more than 40 interactive exhibit elements, the exhibition’s eight sections each focus on a step in the filmmaking process to give you an unparalleled view of the production pipeline and concepts used at Pixar every day. Participate in fun, engaging hands-on activities, listen to firsthand accounts from members of the studios’ production teams, and even come face-to-face with re-creations of your favorite Pixar film characters, including Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode, and WALL•E!
Pixar’s Official website for “The Science Behind Pixar” exhibit
The Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park, Los Angeles
“The history of the Western genre is explored in the Imagination Gallery. Putting the Western into its larger historical context, the gallery shows how the genre evolved in response to social and cultural changes taking place in America during the twentieth century. Highlights from the film collection range from the camera director Cecil B. DeMille used on the set of The Squaw Man (1914) to an original Norman Rockwell painting of Gary Cooper used to advertise Along Came Jones (1945). The television collection includes artifacts ranging from Clayton Moore’s costume from The Lone Ranger (1949–1961) to the original handwritten pilot for Bonanza(1959–1973).
Almost every iconic cowboy—including William S. Hart, Bill Pickett, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Duncan Renaldo, James Arness, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood—is represented in the gallery. Such cowgirls as Patsy Montana, Betty Hutton, and Katharine Hepburn are also represented, as well as artifacts and posters from Thelma and Louise (1991) and the iconic shirts from Brokeback Mountain (2005).”