Past Exhibitions

Thursday, June 5, 2014Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jasper Johns, William de Kooning, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol— these stellar American artists are now part of the American canon of contemporary art history. Yet when Emily Fisher Landau collected their art (and works by numerous other now-prominent artists), they were radically adventurous and far from famous. Landau became one of the preeminent collectors of postwar art in the United States. This exhibition is in essence a survey of American art since the 1960s: it is drawn from Landau’s historic promised gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014Sunday, November 30, 2014

In intriguing tableaus staged with toy figures and miniature dioramas, influential photographer David Levinthal explores history and pop culture, from the Wild West and baseball to pornography and the horrors of the Holocaust. SJMA’s exemplary collection, features the finest examples from Levinthal’s career from 1975 to the early 2000s.

Saturday, March 1, 2014Sunday, August 24, 2014

This spring the San Jose Museum of Art goes public with a selection of exciting acquisitions from the last three years. Initial Public Offering marks the debut of various works in SJMA’s galleries. From Clare Rojas’s folk-inspired narrative paintings to Tim Hawkinson’s cardboard and urethane foam sculpture Scout (2006-2007)—the artist’s absurdly humorist take on the human figure—the works in this exhibition signal a bold, new direction for SJMA’s permanent collection.

Thursday, January 16, 2014Sunday, November 30, 2014

Artists give us a chance to view the world in new ways and through their eyes. We view their works and notice tiny details—what makes a structure an architectural gem, the heat of a moment, weather that can change our mood. The artist frames a view and uses angles and perspective to guide what we see. As you look for yourself, do you feel small or powerful? Can you fly or do you feel the dirt on your belly? Are you energized or at peace?

Saturday, November 9, 2013Sunday, April 20, 2014

You are what you eat. This exhibition—the catalyst for an accompanying festival of activities presented by thirty partnering organizations—celebrates and explores the role that food plays in our lives. The agricultural bounty of our region has brought waves of immigration (Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Mexican, Vietnamese) and shaped a rich history of cultural diversity, which today we share in part via food. From food trucks to molecular gastronomy, food helps define the Bay Area’s communities.

Thursday, October 17, 2013Sunday, February 2, 2014
When we think of brilliant design, we usually think of monumental feats of engineering, architecture, aeronautics, even city planning. Yet modest objects we use every day reflect the same process of problem solving, design, and testing. They are the unrecognized heroes of industrial design, where simplicity and necessity meet ingenuity.  
Friday, September 6, 2013Sunday, April 20, 2014

Food punctuates daily life and shapes family traditions. It is a manifestation of commonality and culture. Your childhood may have been nurtured by food memories—of meals and mealtimes, of abundance or want, of family roles and rituals. We each may take our small comforts from Wonder Bread, roti, pita, tortillas, challah, injera, or bánh…. 

Our “daily bread” takes centerstage in the first installment of Around the Table, Jitish Kallat’s expansive installation Epilogue (2010 – 2011). Here, Kallat honors his late father through a deeply personal series of photographs of progressively eaten roti (the round, traditional South Asian flatbread).

Thursday, July 18, 2013Sunday, October 20, 2013
Katie and Drew Gibson, longtime supporters of SJMA, believe that culture is a big part of what makes a city important and meaningful. From the very early days of the Museum, when it occupied the old library, they dreamed of an art museum with a collection of national prominence and gutsy distinction. The Gibsons have helped the Museum realize its ambitions for some thirty years.
Thursday, July 18, 2013Sunday, October 20, 2013
The iconic and glorious Golden Gate Bridge, recognized around the world, is nearly synonymous with the Bay Area. This summer, SJMA invites visitors to experience the bridge in a completely new way through the art of Doug Hall. In Timelapse, the bridge is more than a landmark: it is an elegant engineering feat, a symbol of global maritime commerce, a portal to the Pacific Rim, and a tourist destination of the West. This exhibition marks the debut of the Museum’s recent major acquisition, purchased with funds contributed by the Lipman Family Foundation and the Acquisitions Committee.
Thursday, June 6, 2013Sunday, September 29, 2013
Hung Liu’s remarkable and lush paintings (based on historical photographs of China) have made her one of the most beloved artists represented in SJMA’s collection—and one of the most important Chinese-American artists working today. Hung Liu has long paid witness to the tribulations of everyday people, past and present, and their hidden stories of social injustice. She grapples with issues of self, society, and politics—as well as the challenge of reconciling disparate cultures.
Thursday, June 6, 2013Sunday, September 8, 2013
Abraham Lincoln’s hat and gloves. Sigmund Freud’s couch. Emily Dickinson’s only surviving dress. Elvis Presley’s 1957 Harley Davidson. These are just some of the revealing personal possessions of notable historical figures that Annie Leibovitz photographed on a journey through the United States and Great Britain between 2009 and 2011. The photographs featured in this nationally touring exhibition vividly demonstrate Leibovitz’s curiosity and fascination with the world around her.
Thursday, April 18, 2013Sunday, December 1, 2013
Tales of monsters, heroes, and gods found in classical Greek mythology have captivated audiences for over three millennia. This small exhibition drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection features works on paper by artists who have used stories from the Odyssey and ancient Greek myths to address challenging issues such as race, culture, and the psychological effects of war, or as a vehicle to explore desire and the universal subconscious. 
Thursday, February 21, 2013Sunday, August 18, 2013
These artists take on identity issues (and Asian identity in particular) by creating narratives that often are born from loosely autobiographical, conflicting situations. In video, film, multimedia works, photographs, and performance art, they conjure temporary identities that reflect the constant struggle, negotiation, and precarious balance between different worlds. 
Saturday, February 2, 2013Sunday, June 30, 2013
The first twelve years of the 21st century have seen astounding social and economic transformation in China. This exhibition showcases images by Chinese photographers working in their homeland during this period.
Saturday, November 10, 2012Sunday, January 5, 2014

Consider the letter. At its most basic, it consists of one or more straight or curved lines, sometimes touching or forming geometric shapes. With these simple lines, humans build complex codes, communicate with each other, and grapple with the mysteries of the universe. The artists in Mark My Word use letters, challenging us to see them for what they really are, objects to be played with, read literally or not, or combined to enhance a story. In the Koret Family Gallery, we invite you to engage in your own word play.

Saturday, October 27, 2012Sunday, May 12, 2013
Eric Fischl’s art is grounded by his keen understanding of the historical language and the craft of painting. This fall, visitors to SJMA will see the world through the painter’s eyes—with sharpened powers of observation and insight.
Friday, October 5, 2012Saturday, October 13, 2012
Full Spectrum is the Museum’s signature fundraising event of the year and a gala like no other. It features an auction that brings you an amazing opportunity to acquire works by extraordinary Bay Area artists, many of whom are recognized nationally and are represented proudly in the Museum’s permanent collection. 
Saturday, September 29, 2012Sunday, March 31, 2013
MAD Magazine meets Versailles in Mark Dean Veca’s loud yet regal salon installation. Veca bridges the opulence of 18th-century Toile de Jouy wallpaper and the renegade attitude of 20th-century cartoons, comics, and street art. 
Saturday, August 18, 2012Sunday, January 13, 2013
Ranu Mukherjee is fascinated by the idea of the contemporary nomad and the experience of repeated relocation that is common for so many of us today. What better place than Silicon Valley—with its rich history of immigration, itinerant workers, dot-com booms and busts, and outsourcing—to explore this updated notion of the nomad.
Thursday, July 26, 2012Sunday, January 13, 2013
Local Color, drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, explores the primacy of color in a range of works, from Alexander Calder’s whimsical mobiles to Elmer Bischoff’s luscious, light-filled canvases to David Levinthal’s slick, color-saturated photographs of Barbie dolls.  Also featured are works by artists who consider the quiet, meditative nuances of black and white.  This exhibition encourages viewers to look at color as content.  How does color play into your intuitive experience of a work of art?  What are some of the ways artists use color as the subject of their work?
Friday, March 30, 2012Sunday, September 23, 2012

Traditional versus cutting-edge, high-brow versus low-brow. A new generation of Mexican and Mexican-American artists is fascinated by these potentially contradictory concepts. The artists whose works are featured in this exhibition draw inspiration from Mexico’s deep well of visual culture.

Saturday, March 10, 2012Sunday, August 5, 2012

Frank Lobdell conjures dreamlike landscapes of mystery and longing. His images—vibrantly colored and fantastical—are simultaneously mechanical, yet anthropomorphic. Though best known for his intense, brooding paintings and personal symbology, Lobdell has in recent yearsgiven color primary importance in his work. Frank Lobdell: Wonderland will examine the evolution of the artist’s work and the ways in which he organizes his forms and figures in space.

Saturday, February 18, 2012Sunday, September 16, 2012
This exhibition features a selection from the museum’s permanent collection of Birk’s series of lithographs. Each meticulously drawn image incorporates a descriptive caption written in contemporary American vernacular. Birk transformed a centuries-old classic into an imaginary narrative with political relevance for today’s audiences.
Friday, February 3, 2012Sunday, July 8, 2012
Bawdy irreverence, iconoclasm, parody, and puns are hallmarks of the work spawned by the art department at the University of California, Davis, in the 1960s and 1970s. In keeping with the counterculture of the time, the tone of this humor was often aggressive and transgressive. Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, David Gilhooly, Peter VandenBerge, William T. Wiley, and others took new artistic license with the Bay Area’s figurative traditions. They jettisoned what they viewed as the pretension of the East Coast art world and adopted an earthy approach wholly authentic to the West Coast. Their laid-back, flippant attitudes reflected the shifting values of the time and often belied deeper social messages. 
Friday, October 14, 2011Sunday, March 11, 2012

Enter exhibition website

This Kind of Bird Flies Backward: Paintings by Joan Brown is the first in-depth examination of this beloved Bay Area artistʼs painting in over a decade. The exhibition is the first to explore Brownʼs art in the national context of the womenʼs movement: the movement paralleled her career, yet she has been largely excluded from its history.