Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), Jeff Koons.
While the SFMoMA undergoes renovation, the curators are finding creative ways to keep the programming going. The latest installment of which is Gorgeous at the Asian Art Museum. The selection of seventy-two works (culled from both institutions) is focused on the idea of what “gorgeous” means across centuries and continents.
Elephant seat (howdah), circa 1870.
Artworks as disparate as Jeff Koons’ life-size porcelain of Michael Jackson and Bubbles, a statue of Shiva from 1300 to 1500 India, Chris Ofili’s Princess of the Posse, Japanese Edo panels, something from Yves Klein’s blue period, and a massive Rothko hang together.
Fantastic to Feel Beautiful Again (1997), Tracey Emin.
The show is like watching a beauty contest populated by the museums’ respective masterpieces—each icon of its period and genre preening or playing aloof. Or like a meal in which every course is a rich and complex entrée from five-star restaurants across space and time.
The show is strange, but it exploits a rare opportunity. And one doesn’t leave hungry.
Narkissos (1976–1991), Jess Collins.
Photos: Courtesy of The Asian Art Museum/SFMoMA