Fisher Collection falls out of the Gap 

It is both the apex of a beautiful friendship and a time-limited public opportunity to witness it.

“Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection,” which opens today at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is a spectacular showcase of 161 modern works from the unique 1,100-piece Doris and Donald Fisher Collection.

This art collection of incalculable value was given to SFMOMA by the founder-owner of the Gap, Inc., who had served on the museum board for two decades, until his death last September.

Until now, most of this art was seen only at Gap headquarters and in the Fishers’ home. After a heated controversy over the Fishers’ 2007 proposal to build their own museum in the Presidio national park, the entire collection went to SFMOMA.

Called an “introductory show,” the two floors of paintings, sculptures, photographs and video works is just a glimpse into the future.

Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas senior curator and the man responsible for the Fisher exhibit, warns that after this exhibit closes in three months, only individual works will be shown, not a large-scale group such as this, until the planned expansion of the museum.

A more complete display of the Fisher Collection will have to wait until the 2016 plan to triple the museum space. More than $250 million has been raised for the projected $480 million campaign to make that happen.

Still, as SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra says, it’s a “momentous time in SFMOMA’s history, celebrating 75 years of accomplishments and innovation, and looking forward to a new era of growth and community service.”

And so, for now, here they are: Alexander Calder’s colorful mobiles; Andy Warhol’s “Nine Multicolored Marilyns,” “Triple Elvis” and numerous other pop-art icons; works by the well-known (Sam Francis, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, Wayne Thiebaud), and “modern classics” somewhat new to the West Coast.

Among those are Bostonian Cy Twombly, the late Canadian Agnes Martin, the late abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell, and noted New York artist Frank Stella. His 1989 “The Chase, Third Day” is a mixed-media piece that seems to jump off the wall with swirling colors and dizzying motion.

The show is a judicious mix of abstract and representational art. Gerhard Richter’s varied works cover the entire range, from a near-photographic “Cityscape Madrid” to the squares of “256 Colors” to oils actually called “Abstract.”

Anselm Kiefer’s bizarre jet sculpture, called “Melancholia,” William Kentridge’s film design for Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and Magdalena Abakanowicz’s headless, striking “Four on a Bench” burlap-wood piece are just a few examples of the exhibit’s range and variety.

Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., San Francisco
When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except closed Wednesdays and until 8:30 p.m. Thursdays; closes Sept. 19
Tickets: $9 to $18
Contact: (415) 357-4000,

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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