Find Maharajahs, Houdini, Pissarro and more at museums this fall 

International themes, past and present — from maharajahs in India to Impressionist masterworks to early 20th-century magic to contemporary sculpture — come to light at Bay Area museums this fall.

‘Pissarro’s People’

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was the only artist who had works exhibited at all eight Paris Impressionist shows, from 1874 to 1886. He had a special interest in the human figure, drawing and painting hundreds of works featuring subjects from every walk of life. “Pissarro’s People,” coming to the Legion of Honor, brings together more than 100 such works, including portraits of the artist’s family as well as paintings of housemaids, peasants and farm workers. Late in life, Pissarro became an anarchist; the exhibit includes an album of his political drawings along with a series of utopian landscapes representing life after the hoped-for social revolution. [Oct. 22-Jan. 22, $6-$10, Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave., Lincoln Park, S.F., (415) 750-3600,]

‘American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music’

Musical contributions of U.S. Latinos from the 1940s to the present, and the social history and individual talent that produced stars such as Tito Puente, Ritchie Valens, Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana and Selena, are the subject of a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition opening at the San Francisco Public Library.  The show, which includes English and Spanish text panels, graphics, photographs, listening stations, film and an interactive website, focuses on major centers of Latino popular music production: New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and S.F. The exhibit kicks off with a performance by five-time Grammy nominee John Santos and his Sextet at 3 p.m. Saturday. [Saturday through Nov. 13, free, Skylight Gallery, Main Library, sixth floor, 35 Grove St., S.F.,]

Bay Area Now 6

Among many events associated with the sixth edition of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ triennial exhibition “Bay Area Now” — a varied roundup showcasing artists inspired by the region and beyond — is a presentation by the performance troupe Big Art Group called “The People: San Francisco.” The site-specific outdoor extravaganza, which loosely recreates the story of Aeschylus’ “Oresteia,” combines live theater with real-time, large-scale video projection and features interviews with locals who voice their thoughts about democracy, war, terrorism and justice. The production happens at street level at Z Space. [8 p.m. Sept. 16-17, $10, Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F., (415) 978-2787,]

‘Houdini: Art and Magic’

Big headlines and colorful reporting in The San Francisco Examiner greeted visits of the great magician Harry Houdini here between 1899 and 1923, hailing his escape from a locked box at the Aquatic Park and at the Orpheum. A crowd estimated at 30,000 watched Houdini’s “escape from the straitjacket while in midair” on Market Street. The Contemporary Jewish Museum hosts the first major exhibition to examine Houdini’s life and legend, showing his original magic apparatus, a recreation of the famous Water Torture Cell, historic photographs, dramatic art nouveau-era posters, archival films and 26 contemporary works by local artists such as Deborah Oropallo and Raymond Pettibon. [Oct. 2 -Jan. 16, $10-$12, Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F.,
(415) 655-7800,

‘Rodin and America: Influence and Adaptation 1876-1936’

Sculptor Auguste Rodin and his dramatic impact on American artists are the subject of an exhibition coming to Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center. The show features 107 sculptures, drawings, paintings and photographs by 42 artists from 44 museums, foundations and private collections throughout the United States, as well as 25 of Rodin’s works in bronze, plaster, marble and watercolor. “Rodin and America” is the first exhibit to analyze Rodin’s effect on artists from sculptors such as Malvina Hoffman and Lorado Taft, to those working in two dimensions, such as photographer Edward Steichen and painter Georgia O’Keeffe. [Oct. 5-Jan. 1, free, Cantor Arts Center, Palm Drive at Museum Way, Stanford University, (650) 723-4177,]

‘Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective’

Richard Serra, famous for his large steel sculptures, will install this exhibit of drawings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art himself. Born in San Francisco in 1938, Serra worked in East Bay steel mills before moving to the East Coast, where he established his art career. SFMOMA has six of his sculptures, and eight more will be seen when the Donald and Doris Fisher Collection opens in the museum’s expanded building. The show features about 70 drawings from some 40 years of Serra’s career, along with sketchbooks tracing his ideas and methods. Since 1974, Serra has made wall-size abstractions using oil-based crayons. [Oct. 15-April 8, $11-$18, SFMOMA,
151 Third St., S.F., (415) 357-4000,


A maharajah is a Hindu prince or king, but in The City it will be the shorthand for a lavish exhibit coming to the Asian Art Museum. The U.S. premiere of “Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts,” organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, includes some 200 important artworks — jewelry, weaponry, costumes and more — from the sumptuous world of India’s rulers over three centuries. Capturing the pomp and circumstance of royal processions and inner sanctum of palaces, the exhibition explores the splendor of India’s rulers from the 1700s to the mid-20th century, taking visitors on a tour of Indian kingdoms during centuries of shifting political powers. [Oct. 21-April 8, $7-$12, Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., S.F., (415) 581-3500,]

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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