Art Exhibitions

Art Exhibitions in San Francisco: What’s on?

Making a visit to the west coast, or just a local of the Bay Area? Learn about some of the best new exhibitions showing in San Francisco today, and discover contemporary American art.

By Tim Halliday | 01 Jun 2021

While it may not have the same reputation as New York, California is proving itself as an artistic force to be reckoned with. From the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles all the way up to San Francisco in the north, there are so many art galleries and museums to discover.

San Francisco has something to offer all types of art fans, whether you want to see some photography or are more a fan of sculptures and painting. To make things a little easier for you, we’ve put together this guide to some of the top exhibitions showing in the Golden City.


Immersive Van Gogh Experience (SVN West)

Installation shot, courtesy of The Immersice Van Gogh Experience


The global sensation of The Immersive Van Gogh Experience is now showing in the huge venue space SVN West in SoMa. The post-impressionist’s most famous artworks come to life in an exhibition that’s a combination of light, music, and movement, making it one of the most dynamic installations you’ll see.

Famous artworks such as Starry Night come to life before you, and are accompanied by a playlist that you can access yourself on Spotify. If you’re visiting with kids, this is a great family-friendly exhibition that gets youngsters interested in art. And if you’re a big fan of Van Gogh, there’s no better way to experience his work than through this multimedia experience.


Zheng Chonbbin: I Look for the Sky (Asian Art Museum)

Installation shot, courtesy of the artist and The Asian Art Museum


The Asian Art Museum is one of the major fixtures on the San Francisco creative scene, and rightly so. The city has long had a large population of Asian immigrants, and in particular is famous for its large Chinatown district. The Asian Art Museum showcases some of the best Asian art from past and present.

Zheng Chongbin was trained in traditional Chinese figurative painting at the China Academy of Art, before going on to diversify his practice by training in performance, installation and conceptual art in San Francisco. 

I Look for the Sky is an intriguing exploration of how artists view space and architecture. Using large installations that comprise enormous acrylic panels, Zheng plays with the flow of light and transparency, which in turn affects the perception of his paintings and other works that are exhibited on the walls. 


Group Exhibition: Open Field (Catharine Clark Gallery)

Houseplant Tended by Anni Albers. Image courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery


Established in the 1990s, the Catharine Clark Gallery is a smaller space dedicated to showing the work of contemporary artists. If you’re keen to experience something a little more experimental, this could be just the gallery for you.

Open Field exhibition brings together works from 9 different artists, each responding to the ideas of the Black Mountain College. This was an art school that focused on experimentation and holistic learning until the mid 1950s, training some leaders of the American avant garde movement such as Ruth Asawa and John Cage.

The exhibition is diverse, featuring everything from textile art to installations and sculpture. Uniting all the artworks is an unconventional approach, along with references to the Black Mountain College and the artistic figures associated with the school.


Diane Arbus: Curated by Carrie Mae Weems (Fraenkel Gallery)

Image courtesy of Diane Arbus and Fraenkel Gallery


For those who prefer more historical artworks, the Fraenkel Gallery is holding an exhibition of the celebrated photographer Diane Arbus, whose 15-year career spanned from 1956 to her death in 1971.

Diane Arbus is known for her attempts to normalise marginalised groups of society, taking minority groups as the subjects of her portrait photography. Throughout her career, she worked with groups such as sex workers, nudists, dwarves, and elderly people, creating raw and emotional photographs that expressed the humanity in the fringes of society. The exhibition at the Fraenkel Gallery is the perfect chance to get to know this icon of American photography.

If you’re interested in these exhibitions, make sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment! In the meantime, why not browse our artworks to discover some of the best contemporary artists practising today?

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