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Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time, and Beauty

Jun 18, 2015–Sep 20, 2015

Night Begins the Day is an international group exhibition that includes work in many mediums by twenty-five artists. In Jewish tradition, day begins at sundown, rather than dawn. This notion inspired the exhibition, which looks at alternative or contemporary ways of thinking about space, time, and beauty.

about the exhibition

In the eighteenth century, the concept of the sublime became very influential among painters and poets due to an increasing interest in the aesthetics of science. Expanding global exploration made people astutely aware of the enormous scale and splendor of the planet’s wild places, and astronomy was revealing the staggering immensity of the universe. The result was a combination of awe and fear—awe at the majesty and beauty of creation, and fear of human frailty, mortality, and insignificance in the light of the vastness of the cosmos. This response itself became a point of interest: how do we existentially resolve our psychology and spirituality with this new information?

Taking the title from the biblical concept that, “the day goes after the night,” (Genesis 1:5) at the time of creation, Night Begins the Day is an exhibition featuring the work of twenty-seven artists, scientists, and creative thinkers that, in this current moment of expansion through scientific development, look at three aspects of contemporary art that can be seen as emerging from the historic precedent of the sublime: technological innovation; new understandings of time; and new expressions of awe and fear that have emerged from contemporary irony and cultural critique.

gallery photos
featured artists and organizations
  • Peter Alexander
  • Lisa K. Blatt
  • Daniel Crooks
  • Peter Dreher
  • Moira Dryer
  • Laurent Grasso
  • David Horvitz
  • Institute for Figuring
  • Masood Kamandy
  • Robert Kooima
  • Alicja Kwade
  • Michael Light
  • The Long Now Foundation
  • Jorge Macchi and Edgardo Rudnitzky
  • Vanessa Marsh
  • Josiah McElheny
  • Klea McKenna
  • Katie Paterson
  • Fred Tomaselli
  • Christopher Woodcock
exhibition catalog

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with essays from the curators and local writers Dodie Bellamy and Nathaniel Deutsch, available for purchase in The Museum Store. 

Jan 2, 2016

Best of 2015, Square Cylinder

Sep 2, 2015

Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time, and Beauty, Hadassah Magazine

Sep 1, 2015

"Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time and Beauty" at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Art ltd.

Aug 24, 2015

Night Begins the Day @ Contemporary Jewish Museum, SquareCylinder

Aug 3, 2015


Jul 20, 2015

Night Begins the Day, Visual Art Source

Jul 16, 2015

Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time, and Beauty, Art Practical

Jul 16, 2015

Capturing the Sublime, Bay Area Reporter

Jul 10, 2015

'Night Begins the Day' thrills but falls short at Jewish Museum, San Francisco Chronicle

Jul 5, 2015

Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time, and Beauty at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Daily Serving

Jul 1, 2015

"Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time, and Beauty" At The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, SciArt in America

Jul 1, 2015

Night Begins The Day: Exploring SF's Contemporary Jewish Museum, The Culture Trip

Jun 26, 2015

Evocative CJM exhibit urges contemplation of day vs. night, Examiner

Jun 25, 2015

Artists take back the night—and the day—in new CJM exhibit, Jewish News Weekly

Jun 21, 2015

Capturing the Sublime in a Grain of Sand: Night Begins the Day at Contemporary Jewish Museum, SFAQ

Jun 19, 2015

Artists Inspire Awe with ‘Space, Time, and Beauty’ at CJM, KQED Arts

Jun 17, 2015

The Contemporary Jewish Museum: Night Begins the Day. Curated by Renny Pritikin and Lily Siegel, Art Business


Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Space, Time, and Beauty is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Presenting sponsorship for this exhibition has been provided by the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. Major sponsorship has been provided by an Anonymous donor, Gaia Fund, RayKo Photo Center, and Wendy and Richard Yanowitch.

Additional generous support is provided by The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

Image Credit

Header image: flydime, The Door to Hell, Gas Crater Turkmenistan, fire / Moment / Getty Images. 18.72 x 12.48 in.