Maddy Douglass

Knitter, lawyer, and safer beauty advocate in San Francisco. 

Loves coffee, crafting, and cheese plates.  


Modernism at the De Young Museum

Friends, Bloggees, countrypeople, lend me your ears. I have been blogging far too much about food and style and not nearly enough about the thing that precedes that last one: LIFE. I have a life that revolves NOT only around food and fashion (I think) and I realized that of late I have not been sharing it with you. How amiss of me! To rectify this wrongdoing (I tried to come up with a combination of blog-wrongdoing but it just wasn't going to happen), I've decided to share this lengthy post of my trip to the De Young Museum this past Father's Day - we saw some Modernist paintings, we ate food, we took pictures outside. It was the whole shebang.

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Let me remind you, I used to hate museums. In my teenaged wisdom, I thought they were boring, I didn't care about most of the artists my parents tried to show me, and I was also scarred for life by several "there are always bloody pictures at museums" incidents in my youth (crucifixions at the Louvre, a modern art exhibit at SFMOMA, etc.)

Lately, however, I have seen the error of my ways. I not only enjoy seeing these exhibits with my parents, but I can appreciate the historical context for each piece and like learning facts about these oft-spoken names. I think this is called...maturing? Oh god. Yuck.

At any rate...there are approximately 1000 photos in this post (slight overestimate) so I have concealed them beneath this handy link - please click through to see them all and chuckle at my delightful commentary! And, to see cute pics of my famiwee (minus my brother who was working. Homeboy works hard.)

First thing we did at the De Young was make a stop at the café. None of us had eaten breakfast really so a large lunch was in order to a) celebrate the father of the fambam, and b) fill our stomachs with art-looking-energy.


Mom got some kind of corn chowder and fish thing (I don't care what it is, it looks amazing!) while Big T ordered a quiche (so classic), and I got a peach, arugula, and mozzarella salad. Ok, and I might have also gotten some potato leek soup on the side.

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You'd think Big T would be used to my constant photography by now but only Mom decided to play along. That's ok, Big T! We got you back later! Mwahaha. Cough.


After admiring the ambiance of the café (even the lights were artistic! And you can see sculptures outside!), we moved along to the main attraction: Modernism from the National Gallery of Art.

(This exhibit is on display through October 12, by the by, so any of you interested still have plenty of time to go see it!)


Frank Stella, Flin Flon IV

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Mark Rothko, Untitled

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Ad Reinhardt, Untitled (Yellow and White) and Untitled (Red and Gray)

I actually really enjoyed reading the little blurbs about the motivations behind each artist's work in this exhibit, because a lot of the modernist paintings look like blobs of paint thrown on a canvas... and my first reaction, to be honest, is something along the lines of, "Well, I could have done that." But the point is, I could do that now - because someone else did it first. At the time they were producing these works, this was new, this was unheard of, this wasn't so easy to conceive of and then churn out. I think sometimes when looking at these pieces, it's easy to forget how revolutionary this movement was.


Hans Hoffman, Autumn Gold

Similarly, when viewing Stations of the Cross, I thought it was strange to see something so simple be someone's passionate life work, but I later understood that he made conscious choices in the precision of the lines and in the weight and depth and tone of each piece...it wasn't just something he slapped on a canvas and put up for exhibition. I also grew to appreciate the series more when viewed as just that, a series, since the pieces with white and beige tones appealed to me more than the starker black and white/black and beige ones did.


Barnett Newman, The Stations of the Cross


Rauschenberg, Archive

Rauschenberg, however, I can easily get behind. I love the combination of textures and the use of collage (I used to collage a lot in my middle school and high school years - I'm not a Rauschenberg, but I like to think it was better than the average scrapbooking granny!) and I can more quickly and clearly understand his popart political statements.


Nancy Graves, Agualine

This Nancy Graves pieces I just wanted to bring home and stare at all day long. I would own this piece if I could. I would sell off books and DVDs and nailpolishes until this could hang in my living room, if that's all it took!


Howard Hodgkin, Souvenirs

This piece made me wonder, when is a painting "done"? What made Hodgkin decide to overlay the green dots on top of something that was already colorful and complex? Why the blue outline? WILL WE EVER KNOW?

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Terry Winters, Graphics Tablet

I wanted to own this piece too. I loved this painting. That's all.


Eric Fischl, Saigon, Minnesota


Roy Lichtenstein, Painting with Statute of Liberty

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Frank Stella, La scienza della fiacca


James Rosenquist, Spectator - Speed of Light

This painting truly shone and shimmered as if it was a piece of chrome metal on the canvas. So impressive.


Jean Dubuffet, La ronde des images

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Agnes Martin, Untitled #2

Can you see the subtle horizontal lines?

Finally, we all reached the same stopping point (namely, the end of the exhibit) and I snuck this secret photo with Big-T. Ha! Gotcha.


Of course, no trip to the De Young is complete without a stop at their museum store... wherein I purchased four art books and about ten postcards. Whoops. I guess we know where my talent truly lies... Anyone want to hire me to shop for them?


On the way back to my parents house (I was staying with them for the weekend) we stopped at a couple of different scenic spots in the Presidio to ooh and aah over nature, and take more pictures.

This first one was a little tricky...


...but then he got the smiling thing down!


And of course no trip is complete without a selfie in front of the bridge.


What was your favorite piece from these ones above? Any you'd feature in your imaginary art collection?


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