When was the last time that you visited an art exhibition, and really, really gave yourself permission to experience the art (and perhaps experience transcendence) with abandon? If it’s been awhile, or you know, NEVER, I would like to suggest that you promptly visit CJM’s syncretic exhibition, Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art. Presented in collaboration with SFMOMA, and drawing from the temporarily-closed museum’s massive collection, the exhibition connects the spiritual with the abstract.
Although audiences certainly view the works in a Jewish theological context (it is the Contemporary Jewish Museum, after all) the exhibition is organized by universal concepts like, “Genesis,” “Divine Architecture,” “The Secret Language,” and “The World to Come,” which of course relate to Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other systems of belief.
I’m going to come out and say I recommend visiting the exhibition alone, actually. While I generally enjoy museum-ing with friends, this was one time when I was glad to be rolling solo, especially given the personal nature of the spirituality. It allowed me to really experience the art myself, without distractions. Whereas I normally find myself overly concerned with installation, historical context, artist techniques, and other boring aspects of exhibitions, Beyond Belief set me up to explore love, fear, divinity, grace, and as I said before, transcendence.
I have to take a moment to commend CJM and SFMOMA for the excellent interpretive media in Beyond Belief too. Ipads are so often pointless or annoying when I encounter them in museums, but I found the technology in this exhibition personalized, user-friendly and (a big one for me) quick to consume, depending on the visitor’s level of interest. The content thoughtfully provided a bridge between the audience, art and ideas.
Yet again, the CJM is spot-on with their curatorial choices and interpretive practices. They are quickly becoming my favorite Bay Area museum.
Beyond Belief runs through October 27th.