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Fall Arts: Master painters, iconic photographers, and real geniuses 

Wednesday, Sep 1 2010

Dave Anderson: "One Block: A New Orleans Neighborhood Rebuilds"

Sept. 7-Oct. 16 at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), S.F. Free; 433-6879 or

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, many people in New Orleans' most ravaged neighborhoods still face an uncertain future. Those worries are in the faces of Dave Anderson's photos, which document a single area of the Lower Ninth Ward as it continues to rebuild. Anxiety is juxtaposed against determination. The neighborhood is diverse — not just ethnically but economically and generationally. Anderson's images defy expectations even as they raise hopes that New Orleans' hardest-hit areas are in the midst of a genuine recovery.

"Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay"

Sept. 25-Jan. 18 at the de Young, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive (in Golden Gate Park), S.F. $10-$20; 750-3600 or

The second de Young exhibit to highlight paintings from the Musée d'Orsay is another blockbuster — a rightful follow-up to "Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay." Many of the canvases have become so celebrated over the past century that they've achieved pop-culture status. Among them are Vincent van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Country Dance, and Paul Gauguin's Joyousness. It may be hyperbolic to call this exhibit "a lifetime experience," as pronounced by museum president Guy Cogeval, but for anyone who can't make it to Paris' Left Bank, the de Young is the place to be this fall.

Judy Pfaff: "Sculptural Paintings"

Oct. 7-Nov. 6 at Braunstein/Quay Gallery, 430 Clementina (at Fifth St.), S.F. Free; 278-9850 or

Six years ago, Judy Pfaff won a MacArthur "genius" grant, setting off a cascade of new attention for an artist who has been wowing people for decades. She thrives in all mediums, but most of her work is characterized by complex multidimensional abstractions. Her "sculptural paintings" at Braunstein/Quay Gallery incorporate coiled stretches of wire, tree roots, flowers, steel, glass, and everything else that she decided to add to the mix. Pfaff's work is intense in a good way, like the artist herself.

Augustine Kofie: "Retrofitted and Other Forms of Vintage Futurism"

Oct. 9-Nov. 6 at White Walls Gallery, 835 Larkin (at Geary), S.F. Free; 931-1500 or

You can see the influence of graffiti, tagging, architectural drafting, and more mainstream techniques in Augustine Kofie's artwork. His is an example of amalgamation — of someone inspired by different visual forms who has carved out a distinct reputation at both the street level (he lives in Los Angeles) and the institutional one. His work has been exhibited in galleries around the country, and increasingly in Europe. White Walls will feature mixed-media pieces that incorporate found paper and found wood, as well as an installation or two. Kofie likes to scrounge through estate sales for random objects he can use. That makes him both an archivist and (to use a label he's been tagged with) a "futurist."

"Beyond Golden Clouds: Five Centuries of Japanese Screens"

Oct. 15-Jan. 16 at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin (at McAllister), S.F. $7-$12; 581-3500 or

The evolution of the Japanese screen includes stops in mainland Asia (from where the art form derived at least 1,400 years ago) and the United States. The Asian Art Museum's monumental exhibit covers all this history, right up to recent times, when Jiro Okura — based in Kyoto — visited Virginia and made a series of nontraditional screens using wood, gold leaf, and black and red pigments. Okura's jagged creations provide a suitable coda to a visiting collection of screens that starts in the 16th century, when the art objects entered a newly popular phase in Japan and began to travel overseas through trade with the West.

"Audience as Subject, Part I: Medium"

Oct. 30-Feb. 6 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), S.F. $7; 978-2700 or

A dark-haired man with a three-day beard boards a bus, takes a seat, and talks on his cellphone to a woman whom he threatens to kill. Should the other passengers ignore his conversation, or butt in? Stefan Constantinescu's provocative short drama, Troleibuzul 92, is one of several videos that comprise "Audience as Subject, Part I: Medium." The title's last word refers to the "medium-sized audiences" Constantinescu and his fellow artists analyze with their lenses. The exhibit spotlights public spaces where people wittingly or unwittingly participate in a group dynamic, including the steps of an Albanian street and the sets of raucous U.S. television shows.

"Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century"

Oct. 30-Jan. 30 at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Howard), S.F. $9-$18; 357-4000 or

SFMOMA surveys the full arc of the iconic French photographer's remarkable career, which means we get the known and the unknown. Cartier-Bresson, who died in 2004 at 95, is famous for cofounding the Magnum Photo agency and for his candid black-and-white snapshots from India, China, France, and other locales. What's often downplayed from his biography are the periods he spent in the United States and elsewhere. He was a kind of chameleon who traveled to every crossroads on the globe, including Mexico, Mongolia, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Indonesia, Japan (and, yes, San Francisco). It's all — surprisingly, thankfully — in "Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century."

Takeshi Shikama: "Silent Respiration of Forests"

Nov. 2-Jan. 8 at Corden/Potts Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), S.F. Free; 781-0110 or

Takeshi Shikama's photos of trees, flowers, and other forest scenes are mystical and otherworldly. He says they express his "search for the soul of the deep forests." Anyone who has hiked through Muir Woods and looked around in awe will delight in this exhibit, but even outdoor neophytes will sense the beauty and majesty in this black-and-white portfolio. Fog and sunlight peek through thickets of branches that reach out to the skies. On the ground, small plants also push upward. Winter, spring, summer, and fall all have a place in Shikama's homage to the natural world.

About The Author

Jonathan Curiel


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