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This is an image of a John Outterbridge work installed at SFMOMA.

February 18, 2023 - July 14, 2024
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Corporeal brings together sculptures that explore the figure - whether whole, fragmented, or implied - to consider our place in the world, both as indviduals and collectively. These selected works from SFMOMA's collection rise from the gallery floor to meet visitors at a human scale. Rose B. Simpson's duo of totemic forms, They Rose 1 and They Rose A (both 2019), refleected on the relationship between trauma and resilience and build on Simpson's multigenerational, matrilineal lineage of indigenous artists working with clay. Nick Cave's Soundsuit (2009) offers an ecstatic costume that obsucures a wearer's gender, race, and class to subvert biases around identity, while Antony Gormley's Quantum Cloud VIII (1999) embodies the invisible energies that radiate from our bodies through a constellation of branching metal. Additional works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Rebecca Belmore, Petah Coyne, and others flesh out the presentation.

John Outterbridge
Born 1933, Greenville, North Carolina; died 2020 Los Angeles

In Search of a Missing Mule
Metal, wood, leather, and fabric

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchas, by exchange, through a gift of Peggy Guggenheim, 2019

This work's title points directly to the US government's failed promise of "forty acres and a mule" to newly freed African Americans at the end of the Civil War. A mule's leather yoke, a thick rope noose, and scraps of an American flag and other fabrics hang from the abstracted figure, who appears strong and heroic despite bearing the weight of injustic and racial violence. According to the artist, the figure is "blind but still in search," perhaps not only of the missing mule but of reparative justice more broadly on behalf of many generations of African Americans.

Link to the exhibition at SFMOMA