Salon de Refuses
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For more than 200 years, the Paris Salon was the only exhibition that mattered in the Western world. Then in 1863, a group of Salon rejects—including future masters such as Édouard Manet, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro—revolted. The result was a show called the “Salon des Refusés,” or “exhibition of rejects,” that challenged the standards of the day and changed the course of contemporary art.
San Francisco artists and galleries are embracing this rebellious tradition by mounting their own Salons des Refusés in response to the de Young Museum’s rejection of some 6,000 artworks from its 2023 open-call exhibition, the “de Young Open.”
The triennial show began in 2020 and was billed as a chance for local artists—established or not—to to be judged solely on merit.
Of 7,766 submissions, fewer than 900 were selected this year to hang at the de Young Open starting in September.
After rejection letters went out last Monday, local artists took to social media to vent their disappointment or proudly proclaim their status as rejects.
Among the reactionary exhibitions is a show at Four Chicken Gallery in Bernal Heights. Founder Todd Hanson and local artist Bianca Levan organized the flash art exhibition for fellow rejects after learning that the de Young Open had turned them both down. Any work that’s been rejected by the de Young Open is eligible, as long as it’s no larger than 24-by-24 inches in order to fit into the 450-square-foot gallery on Cortland Avenue.
“We’re basically accepting pieces until the walls are full,” Levan said.
She said Four Chicken will accept work up until an opening reception for artists and friends scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. A closing reception will follow on Sept. 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. The exhibition concludes the following day.
“There’s a little cheekiness in it,” said Hanson. “But it’s all in good humor. There’s no ill feelings for the de Young.”