My husband and I had a wonderful mini-getaway this month. We drove down to San Francisco on a Friday morning to see the current show at the Legion of Honor.
Fog season is over and the weather was stunningly gorgeous. The view didn’t suck, either.
I didn’t know much about Man Ray or Lee Miller before I saw the exhibit, but the description in the museum magazine sounded interesting, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I love focused exhibits, particularly if they’re set up to tell a story about the artist(s) or the period or both, as was the case here. The show was divided into four sequential galleries. The first three showcased their work and their lives before Miller became Ray’s student/muse/lover, their photographs and art from the period when they were working and living together, and their individual works in the aftermath of their dramatic breakup. The fourth featured pieces from some of their friends and fellow surrealists, including paintings of Lee Miller by Picasso and Dora Maar. There were so many interesting pieces, but what I loved best was the narrative surrounding the works. The story of these two brilliant, creative people and how their relationship – first as lovers then, after a brief estrangement, as lifelong friends and confidants – shaped and framed their work absolutely fascinated me, and the companion shows were also terrific.
René Bouché’s Letters from Post-War Paris featured his “letters”, written when Vogue Magazine sent him back home to Paris to cover the first post-war couture shows. The letters are accompanied by sketches and watercolors, many of which were later published in Vogue. Bouché was distressed to see his people struggling to rebuild their lives, so his words and his seemingly whimsical images felt shadowed with nostalgia and bitterness.
In the tiny gallery right next to the café was Marcel Duchamp, The Book and the Box. I loved Duchamp’s “readymades”, his idea of a portable museum, with several pieces of art enclosed in a valise or a box. So cool.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a bad day in a museum. But this one was particularly awesome, and we capped it off with a late lunch and a delicious glass of pinot grigio out on the sunny patio, overlooking the sea. Like I said, a perfect day!