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San Diego Museum of Art: German Expressionism to American History

by Blake Bunch, published

The Balboa Park museum area is known to other regions of the country as "the Smithsonian of the west."  This is largely due to its cultural relevance, as well as countless museums, amphitheaters, and parks that sustain the area.  One museum that stands out to most, however is the San Diego Museum of Art.  Open every day of the week (with varying hours), the San Diego Museum of Art is constantly exhibiting works from artist around the world, as well as some renowned local artists.  The following rundown includes one ongoing, as well as two future exhibitions:


Lion Cannoneer, by Otto Dix

The Human Beast - Now through November 11

The Human Beast highlights the recent bequest of forty-eight German expressionist paintings, drawings, and prints from the estate of Vance E. Kondon and Elisabeth Giesberger.  This exhibit is aimed at the modernist movement that had developed in Germany and Austria in the early twentieth century.  German Expressionist artists were united by common themes: primitivism, raw emotion, the solace of nature, the terror of the First World War and the subsequent social chaos of Weimar, Germany.

New acquisitions from the Kondon-Giesberger bequest include works by Otto Dix, Egon Schiele, and Max Pechstein. These join a strong group of Expressionist paintings and drawings that have long been at the Museum of Art, among which are works by Alexej von Jawlensky, Gabriele Münter, Beckmann, and George Grosz.

Throughout the duration of The Human Beast, three extremely elemental Expressionist films are to be shown: M(1931), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari(1920), and Nosferatu(1922).  M will be shown on Mondays and Fridays, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari will be shown on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and Nosferatu will be showing on Thursdays and Sundays.


Cho-looke by Albert Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt Cho-looke

Behold, America! - November 10, 2012 to February 10, 2013

This exhibit includes works from the colonization of the United States, presenting this dynamic history of art. With the Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Timken Museum of Art, the exhibit will be shown as three distinct, yet related shows at each of the three institutions.

The works at the Timken Museum of Art will focus on the concept of Forms and include traditional still-lifes by Raphaelle Peale and more contemporary works by Sam Gilliam. The San Diego Museum of Art will host the Figures component of the exhibition featuring portraits by John Singleton Copley, Cindy Sherman, and John Currin. At the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego works related to the notion of Frontierswill showcase art created by Robert Irwin, Ann Hamilton, Albert Bierstadt, Asher B. Durand, and Eastman Johnson.

In the San Felipe Valley by Charles Reiffel

Charles Reiffel - November 10, 2012 to February 10, 2013

This exhibition showcases Reiffel's legacy as "a preeminent practitioner" of American Post-Impressionism.  Often referred to as "the American Van Gogh," Reiffel's work was exhibited and celebrated across the country.

The exhibition will include over 80 works, primarily paintings, but also works on paper, including the crayon sketches in which Reiffel pioneered his own personal technique. This show will span the entirety of Reiffel’s career, from his early travel studies to his latest San Diego subjects, and will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park 619.232.7931.

For operation hours and upcoming events, visit their website here.





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