Sat May 4 - Sun August 18, 2024

Art of Noise

From concert posters to record albums, phonographs to digital music players, handheld radios to surround sound, Art of Noise illustrates how design has shaped our relationship to music over the last century. Drawn largely from SFMOMA's collection, the exhibition covers the Floor 7 galleries with a staggering 800 artworks: 550 posters, 150 album covers, 100 design objects and four large-scale installations that merge inventive design and audio.

"Design has the ability to revolutionize and strengthen our relationship to sound. This unique exhibition shows how trailblazing graphics and design objects fuel our bonds to music and help us develop lasting memories of fleeting musical phenomena," said Christopher Bedford, Helen and Charles Schwab Director of SFMOMA. "Art of Noise also manifests our goal to create captivating exhibitions that connect contemporary culture with art and design from a wide range of makers and perspectives."

"This exhibition is a chance for visitors to reflect on our collective experience of music as visualized through expressive and often cutting-edge design," Joseph Becker, associate curator of architecture and design, noted. "The San Francisco Bay Area has been an influential center for graphic and industrial design, including audio products that merge aesthetics and engineering, and era-defining posters and flyers. SFMOMA's design collection reflects these local strengths, as well as iconic designs from around the world, which can be seen in the hundreds of surprising and familiar works on view in Art of Noise."

Art of Noise spans the gamut of design aesthetics, from high-tech engineering and pioneering product design for personal or communal listening to DIY artist-generated graphic designs for live music venues. Visitors are also invited into artist-designed installations and sound environments created by Teenage Engineering, Devon Turnbull and Yuri Suzuki.

Amplifying Music through Groundbreaking Graphic Design

Unforgettable album covers, flamboyant posters and eye-catching flyers demonstrate the ability of successful graphic design to provide a visual accompaniment to our auditory experiences. The exhibition offers the opportunity to present hundreds of stunning works from SFMOMA's trove of psychedelic rock posters of the 1960s and '70s for the first time. Art of Noise features music posters by famed artists like Milton Glaser, Victor Moscoso, Bonnie MacLean and Takenobu Igarashi alongside mid-century modernist record sleeves and album covers by Laini (Sylvia) Abernathy, Emmet McBain, Reid Miles and many others. Also on view are iconic music advertisements that are part of our collective memory, as well as flyers and placards that announce moments from hip-hop, punk and rave culture, often highlighting concerts and performances in the Bay Area.

Music Technology and Innovative Product Design

The varying forms of modern and contemporary music players--boomboxes and stereos, record players and portable devices--have paralleled advancements in technology and evolving design aesthetics. Art of Noise maps the evolution of groundbreaking industrial design for playback, from early phonographs and transistor radios to iconic hi-fi stereos by designers such as Dieter Rams and Achille Castiglioni, who helped shape what our modern experience of listening to music looks and feels like. Art of Noise also encompasses examples of engineering milestones that have radically transformed how, where and when consumers can listen to music--the Sony Walkman, the Apple iPod, and the Music: Not Impossible Haptic Suit. Other unique and experimental works challenge or play with ideas of portability and functionality, such as Ron Arad's deconstructed Concrete Stereo, Mathieu Lehanneur's golden, flame-shaped music player Power of Love, and Matali Crasset's Soundstation, a radio alarm clock with a cone-shaped speaker.

Exhibition Design & Overview

Art of Noise covers over 100 years of visual aesthetics from our musical world. The exhibition is designed in collaboration with the Stockholm-based studio Teenage Engineering, whose groundbreaking speakers and synthesizers have garnered an international following.

The exhibition opens with an immersive installation of 700 mind-bending works of graphic design covering the walls: concert posters, album covers, music advertising and flyers for shows, exhibited floor to ceiling. Visitors next enter the largest space of the exhibition, featuring a new interactive seating environment designed by Teenage Engineering with custom-designed devices for audio playback embedded in the furniture. Beyond are nine tables displaying industrial designs for music playback dating from the early 1900s to 2023, including a jukebox, radios, hi-fi systems, speakers and headphones that enhance our enjoyment of music through their design.

Cutting-edge listening experiences will be featured in two dedicated galleries: on one end of Floor 7 is Teenage Engineering's Choir, a set of sonic sculptures programmed to sing together as a choral group, each with a different vocal range; at the opposite end is an immersive audio installation by Devon Turnbull. Designed specifically for SFMOMA, Turnbull's HiFi Pursuit Listening Room Dream No. 2 is a functional sculpture that facilitates exceptionally high-fidelity music playback. The work will be activated through a series of weekly performances with renowned record collectors, musicians and music labels, drawing heavily on the Bay Area's robust music culture and history and beyond.

As part of the exhibition, visitors will also encounter the commissioned project, Arborhythm, by Yuri Suzuki on the Floor 2 terrace near the museum's Howard Street entrance. This experiential artwork, composed of three tree-like sculptures of yellow, orange and green metal tubes, is both a seating structure and a sonic landscape, remixing sounds of San Francisco's natural and urban surroundings together into an ambient soundtrack.

~~~~~~~~~
Image Credits:
Bonnie MacLean, The Yardbirds and The Doors at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, July 25-30, 1967, 1967, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Jim Chanin; © Wolfgang's Vault; photo: Don Ross

Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni, RR126 Stereo System, manufactured by Brionvega, 1965, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee purchase, by exchange, through a gift of Michael D. Abrams; photo: Don Ross

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures. Poster. 1979. Designed by Factory Records after Peter Saville. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase through a gift of Jenny Emerson and Accessions Committee Fund; © Peter Saville; photo: Tenari Tuatagaloa

Mathieu Lehanneur, Power of Love, 2009; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee fund purchase; © Mathieu Lehanneur; photo: Don Ross

Teenage Engineering, Choir, 2022; © Teenage Engineering

Milton Glaser, Dylan Poster, 1967, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the designer; © Milton Glaser, permission of the estate of Milton Glaser; photo: Tenari Tuatagaloa
From concert posters to record albums, phonographs to digital music players, handheld radios to surround sound, Art of Noise illustrates how design has shaped our relationship to music over the last century. Drawn largely from SFMOMA's collection, the exhibition covers the Floor 7 galleries with a staggering 800 artworks: 550 posters, 150 album covers, 100 design objects and four large-scale installations that merge inventive design and audio.

"Design has the ability to revolutionize and strengthen our relationship to sound. This unique exhibition shows how trailblazing graphics and design objects fuel our bonds to music and help us develop lasting memories of fleeting musical phenomena," said Christopher Bedford, Helen and Charles Schwab Director of SFMOMA. "Art of Noise also manifests our goal to create captivating exhibitions that connect contemporary culture with art and design from a wide range of makers and perspectives."

"This exhibition is a chance for visitors to reflect on our collective experience of music as visualized through expressive and often cutting-edge design," Joseph Becker, associate curator of architecture and design, noted. "The San Francisco Bay Area has been an influential center for graphic and industrial design, including audio products that merge aesthetics and engineering, and era-defining posters and flyers. SFMOMA's design collection reflects these local strengths, as well as iconic designs from around the world, which can be seen in the hundreds of surprising and familiar works on view in Art of Noise."

Art of Noise spans the gamut of design aesthetics, from high-tech engineering and pioneering product design for personal or communal listening to DIY artist-generated graphic designs for live music venues. Visitors are also invited into artist-designed installations and sound environments created by Teenage Engineering, Devon Turnbull and Yuri Suzuki.

Amplifying Music through Groundbreaking Graphic Design

Unforgettable album covers, flamboyant posters and eye-catching flyers demonstrate the ability of successful graphic design to provide a visual accompaniment to our auditory experiences. The exhibition offers the opportunity to present hundreds of stunning works from SFMOMA's trove of psychedelic rock posters of the 1960s and '70s for the first time. Art of Noise features music posters by famed artists like Milton Glaser, Victor Moscoso, Bonnie MacLean and Takenobu Igarashi alongside mid-century modernist record sleeves and album covers by Laini (Sylvia) Abernathy, Emmet McBain, Reid Miles and many others. Also on view are iconic music advertisements that are part of our collective memory, as well as flyers and placards that announce moments from hip-hop, punk and rave culture, often highlighting concerts and performances in the Bay Area.

Music Technology and Innovative Product Design

The varying forms of modern and contemporary music players--boomboxes and stereos, record players and portable devices--have paralleled advancements in technology and evolving design aesthetics. Art of Noise maps the evolution of groundbreaking industrial design for playback, from early phonographs and transistor radios to iconic hi-fi stereos by designers such as Dieter Rams and Achille Castiglioni, who helped shape what our modern experience of listening to music looks and feels like. Art of Noise also encompasses examples of engineering milestones that have radically transformed how, where and when consumers can listen to music--the Sony Walkman, the Apple iPod, and the Music: Not Impossible Haptic Suit. Other unique and experimental works challenge or play with ideas of portability and functionality, such as Ron Arad's deconstructed Concrete Stereo, Mathieu Lehanneur's golden, flame-shaped music player Power of Love, and Matali Crasset's Soundstation, a radio alarm clock with a cone-shaped speaker.

Exhibition Design & Overview

Art of Noise covers over 100 years of visual aesthetics from our musical world. The exhibition is designed in collaboration with the Stockholm-based studio Teenage Engineering, whose groundbreaking speakers and synthesizers have garnered an international following.

The exhibition opens with an immersive installation of 700 mind-bending works of graphic design covering the walls: concert posters, album covers, music advertising and flyers for shows, exhibited floor to ceiling. Visitors next enter the largest space of the exhibition, featuring a new interactive seating environment designed by Teenage Engineering with custom-designed devices for audio playback embedded in the furniture. Beyond are nine tables displaying industrial designs for music playback dating from the early 1900s to 2023, including a jukebox, radios, hi-fi systems, speakers and headphones that enhance our enjoyment of music through their design.

Cutting-edge listening experiences will be featured in two dedicated galleries: on one end of Floor 7 is Teenage Engineering's Choir, a set of sonic sculptures programmed to sing together as a choral group, each with a different vocal range; at the opposite end is an immersive audio installation by Devon Turnbull. Designed specifically for SFMOMA, Turnbull's HiFi Pursuit Listening Room Dream No. 2 is a functional sculpture that facilitates exceptionally high-fidelity music playback. The work will be activated through a series of weekly performances with renowned record collectors, musicians and music labels, drawing heavily on the Bay Area's robust music culture and history and beyond.

As part of the exhibition, visitors will also encounter the commissioned project, Arborhythm, by Yuri Suzuki on the Floor 2 terrace near the museum's Howard Street entrance. This experiential artwork, composed of three tree-like sculptures of yellow, orange and green metal tubes, is both a seating structure and a sonic landscape, remixing sounds of San Francisco's natural and urban surroundings together into an ambient soundtrack.

~~~~~~~~~
Image Credits:
Bonnie MacLean, The Yardbirds and The Doors at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, July 25-30, 1967, 1967, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Jim Chanin; © Wolfgang's Vault; photo: Don Ross

Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni, RR126 Stereo System, manufactured by Brionvega, 1965, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee purchase, by exchange, through a gift of Michael D. Abrams; photo: Don Ross

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures. Poster. 1979. Designed by Factory Records after Peter Saville. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase through a gift of Jenny Emerson and Accessions Committee Fund; © Peter Saville; photo: Tenari Tuatagaloa

Mathieu Lehanneur, Power of Love, 2009; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee fund purchase; © Mathieu Lehanneur; photo: Don Ross

Teenage Engineering, Choir, 2022; © Teenage Engineering

Milton Glaser, Dylan Poster, 1967, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the designer; © Milton Glaser, permission of the estate of Milton Glaser; photo: Tenari Tuatagaloa
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Date/Times:
  • Sat May 4 (10am - 5pm)
  • Sun May 5 (10am - 5pm)
  • Mon May 6 (10am - 5pm)
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SFMOMA 637 Upcoming Events
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