Postwar SF MOMA SF MOMA Young Curators: Kevin Li, Kevin Phan, Junyi Ruan, Brandon Lam, Raymond Huang

Prototype Poster For Our Exhibition

Our Goal

Most schools in the United States teaches how the U. S. won World War II only through the master narrative. Our SFMOMA exhibition will educate the viewers about distinct narratives regarding World War II. The exhibition will explain both the master narrative and counter narrative of World War II with more emphasis on the counter narrative.

Our exhibition will be filled with artworks from many artists that encapsulates the consequences and emotions caused by World War II.

Artwork from different cultural backgrounds give the audience a look into more than just what history books want you to see. Post-war photography and artworks provide viewers a new story told from the perspective of the victims of World War II. By displaying artworks that explain the counter narrative of World War II to our audience, we could provide more understanding about both sides and have sympathy towards the people who were affected by the war.

Atomic Tests in Nevada by U.S.A.E.C

The artist of this photograph is the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The AEC was an organization created by the United States government after World War 2. Their purpose was to control the development of atomic science and technology during times of peace. The photograph was taken back in 1957, 13 years after World War 2 had ended. The detonation of the atomic bomb was at The Nevada National Security Site previously called the Nevada Test Site. This site was created in the Nevada deserts to test atomic weapons. More atomic bombs were probably being detonated after World War 2 to test the sheer power of destruction and to see if improvements to the bomb could be made. This artwork is significant because the atomic bomb, used in World War 2 caused Japan to surrender due to the destruction that was laid on Japan with the use of just 2 bombs. This photograph allowed people who couldn’t see the atomic bomb, to see the power of the atomic bomb through the photos. Since we know the title of the photograph is called Atomic Tests in Nevada, we know that this is the unique shape of the clouds produced when an atomic bomb is set off. This photograph is showing that man could be as powerful as nature with the help of science and technology because nature is usually seen as the stronger force because humans were created by nature. Throughout history humans have always tried to survive or beat nature.

Researched by Raymond Huang

First War Winter by Charles Howard

Charles Howard was born on January 2, 1899 in Montclair, New Jersey and died on November 11th 1978, Bagni di Lucca, Italy. He known as a surreal artist who paints in abstraction. This piece goes by the name of First War Winter in 1939-1940. During this time, people are in constant battle around the world. They are aware of what happens around them, they live in their own world and perceive the world different. As America thought it was for the freedom from tyranny other forces could think the complete opposite. It just depends on the person viewing this extravagant piece. Just like this art there are also many ways to view the war.As this is an abstract piece many of the meanings are to be interpreted. Just like the war chaos has risen. This piece is built with geometric shapes in various order. There are also vibrant colors with some contrast.

Researched by Brandon Lam

High Houses by Lebbeus Woods

Lebbeus Woods was born in Michigan and started his first piece of art as a painting. After that he started working with architecture and design, where he co-founded the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture. He always believed that war and architecture should have a relationship together and to change each other, "Architecture must learn to transform the violence, even as violence knows how to transform the architecture."( War and architecture 1997) He had a huge impact in films and an even larger impact on architecture and design that is still admired up to this day. This piece belongs in the series War and Architecture where he created many piece that are all relating to wars. The piece is designed after the Bosnian war and the Siege of Sarajevo and what had happened in those events during the war. This piece portrays the way the way he wants war and architecture to change each other for the better. The things that seemed like aircrafts were his idea of a “High house”, a house that wouldn’t be touched by whatever disasters that happened on land. This could possibly symbolize a future of a perfect town, but still contain the history of what could’ve happened underneath them.

Researched by Kevin Phan

The Ruin of a Stronghold by Kikuji Kawada

The artwork was from Kikuji Kawada, who was a Japanese photographer, the published the photography book called “The Map”. Kikuji Kawada was born in 1938 in Ibaraki. He graduated from Rikkyo University College of Economics in 1955. The original edition of the book “The Map” held in 1965. This photograph was taken between 1960 to 1965. This artwork is black, white and made of gelatin silver print. The artwork showed a castle that was destroyed, the stains on the it shows radiation still present. The book was published in 1955 which was 20 years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The book “The Map” was described as “a masterly amalgam of abstraction and realism, of the specific and the ineffable, woven into a tapestry that makes the act of reading them a process of re-creation in itself.” from Parr and Badger’s “The Photobook: A History, Vol. I”.

Researched by Junyi Ruan

The Special Attack Corps by Kikuji Kawada

The title of this artwork is called the "Special Attack Corps" from artist Kikuji Kawada who is a Japanese photographer. The artwork was from a series of photo that contain in the photography book known as “The Map” that Kikuji Kawada published. This artwork shows one of the young soldier's portrait and the uniform in front of the portrait which hints towards the war that happened around the time period. This photograph was black and white and it had the feeling of high contrast that show between the frame and the uniform. It is also related to the purpose Kikuji Kawada had in mind; his main purpose was making a photography book that contained a series of photographs of the environment or a particular object that reminded people about the war in Japan.

Researched by Junyi Ruan

Montserrat (Madonna of) by Julio González

This artwork is titled, “Montserrat (Madonna of)”, Drawn by Julio González in 1940. It is a drawing, using ink on paper.This image represents the living sorrow of his life during that time. He lived in the times of The World War, well World War II to be exact. As said before this piece displays a picture of a woman who is the soul representation of his living sorrow. It contains memories of many deaths injuries that has a been a burden to him that he needs to set free. His Life living through the time of need for many others. Julio has drawn portraits and worked on plaster casts each with its own personal meaning. The drawings and castings produced during the last two years of his life represent the suffering and despair towards war. According to Joseph Withers, Julio González's goal was to, "state the larger problems at hand and personal concerns which filled his works in the context of González’s reaction to the Spanish Civil War and the World War II."

Researched by Brandon Lam

Scribbles by Kikuji Kawada

Yet another piece by Kikuji Kawada, the "A-Bomb Memorial Dome, Scribbles by Tourists" is a black and white photograph made with the common photo process known as gelatin silver print. What we are looking at is marks of letters and words that have been made from carving into the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. The Atomic Bomb Dome was very close to ground zero of the detonation of the Little Boy bomb, yet it survived the blast only to become consumed by the radiation that soon poured over the city. The photo is from the post-war era of Japan as mentioned before and that is the main idea of Kawada’s collection of photos. The photograph was taken in or out of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan. To give a little background information about the dome; the dome was the building closest to the detonation of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” that survived. It remained mostly intact and in 1966, the decision to preserve the building was made. It was made into a memorial and many people around the world went to visit, hence the markings made in the photograph. The scribbles tell me that people from around the world have visited the memorial building and left their own mark. The word “tourist” tells me that even right after World War II, there were people willing to visit the country despite the conflict 20 years ago. The marks made give off a feeling of constant reminder of something that can not be forgotten. You began to wonder where on the building was the photo taken as you look closer and can not pinpoint a specific spot.

Researched by Kevin Li

The Ceiling by Kikuji Kawada

The artwork "The Ceiling" from the artist Kikuji Kawada showcases the radiation scars on the Atomic Bomb Dome, a building closest to ground zero that survived. "The Ceiling" is a black and white photograph made with the common photo process known as gelatin silver print. What we are looking at is the ceiling of the Atomic Bomb Dome and how radiation has affected the structural appearance of it. The stains have been present since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The Atomic Bomb Dome was very close to ground zero of the detonation of the Little Boy bomb, yet it survived the blast only to become consumed by the radiation that soon poured over the city. The photo is from the post-war era as mentioned before and that is the main idea of Kawada’s collection of photos. My interpretation of the photograph is that the artist wanted to create a reminder that the consequences of World War II, more specifically the usage of the atomic bomb as a weapon, still remain and is very much present to this day. The stains show the permanent damage made to the ceiling which reflect on a much bigger picture, Hiroshima. The name "Ceiling" makes you believe that the piece will be literally of a ceiling, but looking at the actual photo, you began to wonder what part of the building was taken for the photograph.

Researched by Kevin Li

War and Corpses by John Heartfield

This drawing is known as Krieg und Leichen - Die letzte Hoffnung der Reichen or War and Corpses-The Last Hope of the Reich. It is drawn by John Heartfield in 1932 and created based off of World War II which had taken millions of lives along with it. John Heartfield drew art based on his political views and was quickly known because of what his art shown. "War and Corpses" is drawn using a rotogravure ( a rotary press) on newsprint. This artwork shows the death and after effects of the war and the hyena on the battlefield as the only thing left that seems to have gotten anything from this at all. The top hat on the hyena is something that only a gentlemen would wear and the medal around the hyena’s neck looks like it’s a mix of the Order Of The Star Of The Grand Cross Of The Iron Cross (Germany's highest military award.) John Heartfield was born in June, 1891. He was an artist known for making depressing political art due to the tension between Germany and Britain. He joined the German Communist party in 1918 and then started drawing dada art: art that rejected logic, reason and capitalism. Even though John lived in Germany he created art that harmed the reputation of Germany. John escaped from Germany when Hitler came into power and moved to Prague in order to continue producing anti-Nazi artworks. He continued to do this until Hitler was overthrown and later moved back to Germany where he died.

Researched by Kevin Phan

Hinomaru by Kikuji Kawada

The artwork I will be introducing is called Hinomaru by Kikuji Kawada. The photograph "Hinomaru", is a black and white photograph created by the process called the gelatin silver process. In the photograph we see a Japanese flag on the floor. This artwork was created between the years of 1960 to 1965. The time of creation is significant because this photograph was taken fifteen years after World War 2 had ended. Kikuji Kawada probably took a photograph of the Japanese national flag because he wanted to show the state of Japan through one photograph after World War 2 ended. He could also try to describe his experience of living through World War 2 in Japan. The flag appears to be wrinkled and covered in dust and dirt. In the dirt around the edges of the photo, we could see a chain and some rocks. The photograph does not directly display the impact of World War II, but has a deeper meaning after analyzing it. The black dirt contrasted by the white flag could symbolize all the losses Japan had. The dirt could also represent corruption in Japan with the possible increase of crime after the war. The dirt could also represent the corruption of the innocent people who were killed during the war. The flag on the ground represents the people of Japan and how they suffered from the destruction. The photograph tells us that Japan was once a powerful country, but when they lost the war, everyone in Japan had to suffer the consequences.

Researched by Raymond Huang

Exhibition Model

Prototype Exhibition Scale Model

3D Rendering of Exhibition

3D Rendering of Exhibition


We want to make sure that our exhibition is not complicated for our target audience. Although it touches on a sensitive subject matter, it is still very much alive in both the older and younger viewers. We will achieve this by creating an environment similar to that of World War II. The environment of the war zones within the exhibition will allow the audience to become absorbed and understand the theme of the exhibition. We want to show the viewers a theme they can recognize and relate to; and show the audience the idea of the environment during this time period.

The artworks will let the audience feel the sadness and different emotions towards the events that occurred. We also want them to understand how the situation looked like back then. By replicating the emotions felt by the victims, we could connect the viewers to the victims for further understanding of the tragic event. This exhibition could also be a temporary memorial of World War II.


Funds can be earned through the gift shop, which would contain scaled model replicas of the equipment and vehicles used in the war. Stakeholders whom we would solicit to support our exhibition are the World War II Foundation, Veterans United Foundation, Veterans Affair, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. The foundations will help support the exhibition by providing funding


To promote this exhibition, we will use many ways to reach our audience. We plan to promote our exhibition by using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is a cheap and effective way to spread news since it does not cost any money to post events.

Facebook Instagram Twitter

Our second idea is to post banners and posters around high-traffic areas and Muni buses. By placing them in crowded areas with a simple eye catching graphics, we can get passersby to immediately understand the message. Advertising on Muni buses is an effective way to see the advertisements in many different locations. One final idea is by word of mouth. People who see our advertisements could tell their friends and families.


By showcasing a collection of post war art pieces, we want visitors to be inspired to envision and create new technology that promotes peace. These artworks would inspire new technologies to solve the problems before an armed conflict. This is done by technologies that can connect people from around the world with constructive dialogue. The exhibition would promote peace by reminding viewers when problems are dealt with violence and millions of innocent people were killed. We will have veterans and victims talk about their experience to defer us from war. By showing the trauma that affected the victims of war, we can make the audience step into the shoes of those not mentioned in history books. As a result, our exhibition serves as a counter narrative for those who were affected.

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