Over the past 25 years, West Berlin has regained much of the stature it once held as a center for international art. A window on that vital contemporary scene comes to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Thursday for the only showing outside New York City of "BERLINART, 1961-1987."
About 150 works by 55 artists from 10 countries--the United States represented in part by several artists well known to Los Angeles audiences--make up the survey exhibition. Paintings, mixed-media works and works on paper plus documentation of conceptual and performance art are included.
Despite the continuing influence of figurative Expressionism, diversity of theme and style characterize the art of Berlin today, as reflected in the exhibit organized by Kynaston McShine, a contemporary art curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Yet an indigenous flavor predominates, says Graham Beal, chief curator at the San Francisco museum.
"There is mostly a very heavily humanistic content in the exhibit," Beal said, "that marks it out, particularly with its level of angst , as being particularly German."
Early works on view include figurative Expressionistic paintings of the 1960s by Georg Baselitz, Eugen Schonebeck and K. H. Hodicke. The emergence of conceptual and performance art during the 1960s and '70s is represented by photographs, drawings and mixed-media pieces documenting the works of Joseph Beuys, Robert Filliou, Ludwig Gosewitz and others.
Younger painters born after the war who contributed to Berlin's increasing prominence and are in the exhibit include such members of the Neue Wilde (New Wild Ones) as Luciano Castelli, Rainer Fetting and Dieter Hacker. Abstract symbolism is represented by works of Ina Barfuss, Thomas Wachweger and Eva-Maria Schon.
Foreign artists in the exhibit hail from other parts of Germany and Europe, as well as a handful from this country. Times art critic William Wilson, who reviewed "BERLINART" at the Museum of Modern Art in June, commented on "a noticeable group of artists who have lived and worked" in Los Angeles and Berlin--sister cities.
"Ed and Nancy Reddin Kienholz are best known," Wilson wrote. "They are very tough and funny in 'The Kitchen Table,' a cast-bronze satire on Teutonic heroism and heimlichkeit. They are downright flinty in 'Mother and Child With Child' and its neo-Nazi theme.
"David Hockney brings Anglo-American romance to 'Berlin: A Souvenir,' Jonathan Borofsky shows them what paranoia really is and Leland Rice found the graffiti on the Berlin Wall a subject that beefed up his formal excellence."
"BERLINART" continues through Jan. 3.
NEW WAYS OF SEEING: Combining the talents of film, video and art experts, the J. Paul Getty Trust and New York's Metropolitan Museum have commissioned six short experimental films on pre-20th-Century art. The Program for Art on Film is a joint venture of the two institutions.
"We recognize that there are inherent contradictions in presenting art on film," said Karl Katz, executive director of the program in a prepared statement, "but still believe better ways can be found if creative people are given a chance to work together. Film cannot re-create the experience of looking at original works of art; these projects will try to reveal the special contributions that film and video can bring to understanding art."
Topics to be addressed in the films are the cathedrals of Beauvais in France, the way reality is represented spatially in Western and Eastern art, Egyptian mummy-shroud portraits, Rome's Fontana di Trevi, Giorgione's painting "The Tempest" and Leonardo da Vinci's water and deluge studies.
The films will be ready for viewing by 1990, said a spokeswoman for the program.
BIGGER AND BETTER: Bowers Museum in Santa Ana will begin a $12-million expansion project next spring to more than double its size from 23,000 to 56,000 square feet.
Included in the expansion plan are the addition of two new main galleries, a 100-seat restaurant, a 350-seat auditorium, new administrative and volunteer facilities, three courtyards, a stucco exterior and terra cotta and ceramic interior tiles.
"The substantial increase in gallery space will not only allow us to display more of our permanent collection," said Bowers director Paul Piazza in a prepared statement, "but will also give us the ability to bring several more touring exhibits to the museum on a regular basis."
The architectural firm of Hardy Holzman and Pfeiffer Associates, which designed the Robert O. Anderson Building of the County Museum of Art, is designing the Bowers' expansion.