San Francisco-based photographer Michael Jang’s SFMOMA mural installation, The Whole Story (2022-23), is currently on view and free to see on Floor 2. The mural features Jang's playful photos outlandishly staged as graphic posters or musician portraits, wheatpasted with an ever-changing landscape of writing and drawings. An ode to the city's storied graffiti community, Jang’s frequent interventions mean repeat visits to SFMOMA will be rewarded as the mural constantly evolves.
Who is Michael Jang? Jang (b. 1951) moved to San Francisco in the 1970s to earn a MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. While working in commercial photography, Jang was also busy documenting the sub-cultures and intimate social circles around him, immersing himself in the city's lively punk scene. This included a pioneering series in which he photographed his extended Chinese American family nd their suburban surroundings. In addition to his joyful or joking portraits, his documentary-style photography offers an honest view of quintessentially Californian moments, like the huddled mass gathered on the Golden Gate Bridge for its fiftieth anniversary, or Sex Pistol concerts and David Bowie sightings.
In celebration of his visitor-favorite mural, Jang worked with the Museum Store to produce a collection available only at SFMOMA. In May of 2023, Jang’s limited-edition zine Lunch Special was released, a document of his wheat-pasted works throughout San Francisco over the last two years. Through these installations, Jang expresses his unique perspectives on the Chinese-American experience, recent waves of racial hatred, and popular culture, all with his customarily playful wit and acute social awareness.
The Michael Jang x SFMOMA T-shirt features an image from the mural and is available in adult sizes small through XL.
The Michael Jang x SFMOMA Enamel Pin, featuring graphics from the mural is an ode to perception. "Do you actually see upside down? Because the front of the eye is curved, it bends the light, creating an upside down image on the retina. The brain eventually turns the image the right way up."
In addition to products inspired by the mural, the Museum Store has collaborated with Jang to produce a custom print of his photograph Golden Gate Bridge Fiftieth Anniversary, (1987), which is in SFMOMA’s permanent collection.
Required reading: In 2019 Atelier Editions published Jang’s first major monograph, Who is Michael Jang, highlighting his most important bodies of work and featuring an introduction by his longtime collaborator and SFMOMA Curator Emerita of Photography, Sandra Phillips.
Jang's Bay Area Walls project, Michael Jang: The Whole Story (2022) is free to see through June 18, 2023.