Monday, Dec 05, 2016 - 8:00 am
Exhibitions highlight collaboration with local partners, commitment to living artists, and continued dedication to displaying the Museum’s world-class permanent collection

San Diego, CANext month the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) will open three new exhibitions at their downtown location: Dimensions of Black: A Collaboration with the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art, Tristano di Robilant, and Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie.

The exhibitions will officially open to the public on December 16, but those who attend the Museum’s popular Downtown at Sundown program on the evening of December 15 will get a first look at the new shows. Please see below for additional details and contact Leah Straub for high-resolution images of artworks, or to schedule interviews with MCASD curators.

In collaboration with the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art (SDAAMFA), MCASD will present Dimensions of Black: A Collaboration with the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art, on view from December 16, 2016 through April 30, 2017. SDAAMFA is committed to educating residents and visitors of San Diego about the history and artistic contributions of African American culture through exhibitions and interpretive programs. This mission finds resonance in MCASD’s own collection, which includes numerous works by leading African American artists of our time. The collaboration will also present a series of accompanying programs throughout the exhibition.

Featuring over 30 pieces from the 1970s to today, Dimensions of Black traverses the many ideas and perspectives that have shaped the landscape of contemporary art. Many works are by artists working with abstraction, whose long careers remained underrecognized until recently. Other artists use figuration in varying ways, whether as a tool within otherwise abstract compositions, or to expressly render Black people or the experience of Black life. Artworks from the 1980s and 1990s often take on identity directly, addressing race, gender, and sexuality through a range of media including sculpture, drawing, and photography. But not every work in the exhibition is explicitly related to Black identity, with some artists actively dismissing racialized readings of their work and others leaving such interpretations to the viewer themselves.

Also on view from December 16, 2016 through April 30, 2017, Tristano di Robilant features glass, metal, and ceramic sculptures that balance geometric forms with light and color. Di Robilant, who works in close collaboration with master artisans in Italy, creates elegant sculptures that highlight the particular qualities of his materials. These works are acutely attuned to the world around them, with translucent surfaces that play with light and reflection. Their irregular shapes are at once surprising and mesmerizing. The sculptures’ playful forms are often paired with enigmatic titles that borrow from a range of literary, philosophical, and historical influences.

In the month following the opening of this exhibition, di Robilant will remain in San Diego as an artist in residence at MCASD, as he develops his next body of work.

A local favorite from MCASD’s permanent collection, Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie will return to the expansive Farrell gallery, where it will remain on view from December 16, 2016 through August 20, 2017. Inspired by Steinkamp’s research into atomic energy, atomic explosions, and the effects of these forces on nature, this immersive installation was commissioned by MCASD in 2011. Marie Curie was the recipient of two Nobel Prizes for creating the theory of radioactivity, and discovering radium and polonium. She was also an avid gardener and lover of flowers. An enveloping panoramic work, this piece activates a field of realistically rendered moving flowers and flowering trees, drawn from a list of over 40 plants mentioned in Marie Curie’s biography written by her daughter, Eve Curie.

Steinkamp is one of the most accomplished digital video artists working today. Her video installations of projected animations engage space and architecture to foster moments of intense public intimacy in our age of new media. Physically overwhelming, her animations employ cutting-edge projectors and digital masking applications to enhance or contradict the architectural features they inhabit. Madame Curie proposes a new type of bodily experience, but also exists in time, as shifting flowers and trees undergo momentous seasonal or climatic changes. As powerful environments, Steinkamp’s installations ask for a novel reading of architecture and take viewers beyond the physical boundaries of a built space to contemplate their surroundings as a factor of time, desire, and memory.

Related Programming

Downtown at Sundown

Thursday, December 15 > 5-8 PM
MCASD Downtown

Visual and performing arts converge at MCASD Downtown’s after-hours offering: Downtown at Sundown. On the third Thursday of every month from 5 to 8 PM, Downtown at Sundown offers FREE Museum admission, exhibition tours, DJ-spun tunes, free entry at SDSU Downtown Gallery, drink specials at the Stone Brewing Company Store and The Flight Path Wine Bar & Bistro, food trucks, and so much more.

A Curator’s Perspective: Dimensions of Black

Monday, December 19 > 2 PM

MCASD Downtown

Celebrate the opening of Dimensions of Black by taking part in a gallery walkthrough led by the curator of this exhibition, Anthony Graham. This conversation-based tour invites visitors to ask questions and learn about the exhibition, artist’s processes, or particular works of art and receive first-hand knowledge about the installation and curatorial process soon after the exhibition’s opening. This program is free for Members, and free to non-members with paid Museum admission.

An Artist’s Perspective > Kori Newkirk

Tuesday, January 17 > 6 PM

The LOT in La Jolla

MCASD will close its doors in La Jolla beginning January 3, 2017 to prepare for a renovation and expansion of the La Jolla facility. The building will close, but our presence in the community will continue with many cultural partnerships, including this exciting new program series at The LOT. MCASD is partnering with the luxury cinema and dining venue to present An Artist’s Perspective. This casual and engaging lecture series will feature acclaimed artists from around the region. Los Angeles-based artist Kori Newkirk will lead the first session in this series.

DocShop > Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010); 98 MIN > Directed by Tamara Davis

Friday, March 17 > 5:30-7:30 PM

MCASD Downtown

MCASD’s Teen Advisory Group (TAG) presents DocShop, a program that pairs a documentary film with a hands-on workshop for high school students. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child centers on an interview director Tamara Davis, shot with Basquiat over 20 years ago. Following the 90-minute documentary, participants will explore Basquiat’s works included in the exhibition Dimensions of Black and participate in a TAG-led workshop. Popcorn and drinks will be provided. To register for this program send an email to with the subject line “DocShop-Basquiat.” Please include your name, high school, and grade level. This program is for high school students only and is free to attend.

Dimensions of Black: Family ArtLAB and Food Fest

Saturday, February 25 > 12-4 PM

MCASD Downtown

MCASD and the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art (SDAAMFA) welcome you to celebrate contemporary African American art and culture at this special Family ArtLAB. Take part in a Look/Explore tour and let our Gallery Educators lead you and your family in lively conversation as you explore the exhibition Dimensions of Black. Following your gallery exploration, take part in a hands on art-making activity inspired by the work on view. This program is recommended for families with children ages five and older. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis and include Museum admission; capacity is limited to 60 participants. This program is free for MCASD and SDAAMFA Members and military families; $15 for general public. The family price includes two adults and up to three youths.


Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum's collection includes more than 4,700 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Kathryn Kanjo is The David C. Copley Director and CEO at MCASD. Institutional support for MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.