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Modernism Inc.
724 Ellis Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
415 541 0461

Also at:
Modernism West
2534 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Over the past four decades, Modernism has presented more than 450 exhibitions, featuring an international roster of historical and contemporary artists. The museum-quality program, overseen by gallery founder and owner Martin Muller, includes conceptually challenging and aesthetically rigorous painting, photography, sculpture, video, performance art, and works on paper.

Since 1979, the gallery has been at the forefront of the art world, presenting a retrospective of the Russian Avant-Garde in 1980 – before any other West Coast gallery or museum showed the historically-important work of Russian Avant-Garde artists – and staging the first Bay Area gallery exhibition of Andy Warhol in 1982. Both abstraction and figuration have been central to the gallery program ever since. In addition to 17 more Russian Avant-Garde exhibitions, Modernism has shown the work of the Southern California abstractionist James Hayward since 1980, and recreated “Four Abstract Classicists”, a seminal 1959 Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition, in 1993. At around the same time, the gallery introduced America to the politically-charged conceptual works of Austrian-born multimedia artist Gottfried Helnwein.

In the 21st century, Modernism has continued to open new frontiers in the Bay Area art world. The historical program now encompasses Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Vorticism, and German Expressionism, as well as the Russian Avant-Garde. Historical landmarks have included the first major West Coast retrospective of Le Corbusier in 2003, and the first major American exhibition of paintings, drawings, collages, and photographs by Erwin Blumenfeld in 2006. Over the past decade, Modernism has staged notable retrospectives of key modern artists including Edvard Munch, and historically important contemporary artists and photographers including Mel Ramos, John Register, Jacques Villeglé, and Judy Dater.

Representing nearly fifty contemporary artists from around the world, the gallery contributes to current artistic dialogues, both representational and abstract, with several dozen shows per year presented at both Modernism and Modernism West, as well as art fairs in North America and Europe. Areas of focus include conceptual and textual work, and art that meaningfully addresses important sociopolitical concerns.

The gallery regularly publishes books, monographs, catalogs, and fine art editions, including notable volumes about gallery artists Mel Ramos, Naomie Kremer, Gottfried Helnwein, Elena Dorfman, Charles Arnoldi, and Jacques Villeglé.
Artists Represented:

Alex and Mushi
Elina Anatole
Charles Arnoldi
Gary Baseman
Glen Baxter 
Jean-Charles Blais
Erwin Blumenfeld 
Lucien Clergue
R. Crumb
Judy Dater
Elena Dorfman 
Michael Dweck 
Damian Elwes
Sheldon Greenberg 
Frederick Hammersley 
Duncan Hannah
James Hayward 
Gottfried Helnwein
Tony Hernandez
Shawn Huckins
Bill Kane
Jerry Kearns 
Jonathon Keats
Naomie Kremer
Lindsay McCrum
John M. Miller
Andreas Nottebohm 
Patti Oleon
Ivan A. Puni
Mel Ramos
John Register
Peter Sarkisian
Ben Schonzeit 
David Simpson 
Stephen Somerstein 
Robert Stivers
Mark Stock
Sam Tchakalian 
Mark Ulriksen  
Jacques Villeglé 
Robert Wilson 
Stéphane Zagdanski 

Works Available By:

Alexander K. Bogomazov 
Vasili D. Ermilov 
Albert Gleizes 
Ivan V. Kliun
Henri Hayden
Le Corbusier
Kazimir S. Malevich 
Ilya I. Mashkov 
Edvard Munch 
Georges Valmier
Kirill M. Zdanevich
Andy Warhol


Modernism Gallery - Interior 2
Modernism Gallery - Exterior
Modernism Gallery - Interior
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Online Programming

Group Exhibition

Created in Place

Modernism is pleased to present: Created in Place an #EssentialArt Online Exhibition, September 5-October 24, 2020. Early this Spring Modernism temporarily closed, three days after opening Naomie Kremer’s Embodiment exhibition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic shelter-in-place orders. Shortly thereafter we launched our #EssentialArt program, a series of video vignettes visiting our artists’ studios over the past five months. Today we are pleased to share a broad presentation of works “Created in Place” during this unprecedented and challenging period, a time in which our artists have flourished, each taking a different approach to their work. Judy Dater in Berkeley began her Plague Journal on day one of the shelter-in-place, an ongoing photo- and text-based diary chronicling her new daily life. Gottfried Helnwein in Ireland, whose work, fittingly for this time, already addresses the human condition and ills of the world, revisited his iconic Mickey Mouse portrait series, with the large-scale painting Crimson Mouse, in which Mickey looms with portent. Jacques Villeglé, isolating in St. Malo, France, also “confined” himself to making drawings on the subject “L’art est?” (Art is?). For photographer Stephen Somerstein, who photo-documented the famous 1965 Selma to Montgomery march led by Martin Luther King, Jr., there was no question that he would take as his subject the current Black Lives Matter protests in San Francisco. We hope you will enjoy this special #EssentialArt exhibition of works “Created in Place” during this shared global experience.

John Register [1939-1996]

A Print Retrospective

Modernism is pleased to announce "John Register (1939-1996): A Print Retrospective" marking the first in a series of online-exclusive #EssentialArt exhibitions while Modernism remains closed due to the current public health circumstances. At a time when much of the American population is practicing self-isolation, with retail stores, cafes, transit centers, and restaurants empty and shuttered, John Register's work resonates more than ever. An e-catalogue is available. For desktop: For mobile devices:

Current Exhibition

Agnieszka PILAT

Thinking Machines: Renaissance 2.0

September 23, 2021 - October 31, 2021
When Agnieszka Pilat first met Spot, she was astonished by the robotic dog’s ability to climb a staircase with lifelike agility. As a painter with a deep interest in innovation, Pilat was reminded of one of the 20th century’s most innovative paintings, Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), by Marcel Duchamp. In his 1912 canvas, Duchamp depicted the movement of a nude woman as a series of superimposed frames, much as a machine might perceive and analyze human motion. As an artist-in-residence at Boston Dynamics – the manufacturer of Spot – Pilat was inspired to portray the innovative bio-inspired machine as Duchamp might have done. Over the past decade, Pilat has deployed her classical training to work at the intersection of technological progress and artisanal tradition. The twelve canvases featured in her first exhibition at Modernism Gallery are meticulously executed in oil on linen, taking inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, as well as Marcel Duchamp. But her art is no mere copy of the masters. She has not only replaced their human subjects with robots, but also ingeniously portrayed these new entities in a gestural language evocative of robotics. “I’m interested in questions of authorship,” she says. “Authorship has traditionally been associated with the hand of the artist. What happens to authorship in a time when machines are capable of endless repetition?” To explore these issues, Pilat has sought to embody the cutting-edge technology she witnessed at Boston Dynamics by making multiple copies of the same image. For instance, she has painted her version of Nude Descending a Staircase twice. The paintings are in different color palettes, both evocative of the Pop art of Andy Warhol, who famously said “I’d like to be a machine”. However, the difference in colors is only the most obvious contrast evident in her two paintings. Unlike Warhol, who used mechanical techniques such as silkscreening in his best-known pieces, Pilat has worked by hand, resulting in expressive discrepancies in every detail. Her efforts to paint like a robot paradoxically betray her humanity. For Pilat, this does not amount to triumph or defeat. As she observes, “Machines are humanity’s children.” In this familial relationship, neither is inherently superior – let alone an existential threat to the other – though she acknowledges that “machines are today’s celebrities, perhaps even the aristocracy of the 21st century”. By painting their portraits, she carries on a tradition stretching from Renaissance studios to Warhol’s Factory of the 1960s. The majority of work in her Modernism exhibition focuses on the Renaissance, with images derived from Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco. Pilat sees an important connection between the Renaissance and the present moment, especially evident to her as an artist based in Silicon Valley. “Much as innovation changed the world during the Renaissance, innovators in the Bay Area and the Boston region are changing the world today,” she says. In tribute to this history, and referencing the language of software iteration, she has dubbed her new series Renaissance 2.0. image: "Vitruvian Man in Cool Blue," 2021 oil on Belgian linen, augmented reality 78 x 78 inches

Past Exhibitions

Charles Arnoldi

Natural Selection

September 9, 2021 - October 23, 2021
While visiting Machu Picchu in 2017, Charles Arnoldi was struck by the perfect fit of the rocks from which the ancient city walls were built. The architectural stability of the irregularly-shaped slabs of granite suggested a compositional approach to balancing blocks of color. When he returned to his studio in Southern California, Arnoldi set to work on a new series of paintings inspired by the Inca archaeology. As is usually the case for Arnoldi, the series inspired several others, intermingling visions of masonry with visual inspiration from sources ranging from viruses to his own prior painting. “I guess I’m just an intuitive guy,” he says with characteristic candor and modesty. An important and acclaimed California abstract painter and sculptor, Arnoldi has been channeling visual intuitions into transcendent large-scale artworks since the late 1960s, when he moved from the Midwest to Southern California and became the youngest member of the Venice Beach scene. Arnoldi’s extraordinarily versatile virtuosity is in full view in his 10th one-person exhibition at Modernism, which includes twenty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper competed over the past five years. The exhibition highlights Arnoldi’s lyrical application of color, which enlivens organic abstractions comprising tangles of line, geometric tiling, and the irregular blocks inspired by Machu Picchu. The architectural blocks are also evoked in wooden sculptures hewn with a chainsaw, repurposing an unconventional studio technique that Arnoldi has applied intermittently to paintings on plywood since the early ‘80s. The aesthetic variety is a natural outcome of Arnoldi’s commitment to process, and his eagerness to experiment, traits he holds in common with Venice Beach scene peers including Joe Goode and Billy Al Bengston. “I let the paintings develop themselves quickly and spontaneously,” he explains. “I'm not trying to make a signature style of art, not an Arnoldi. I am just trying to make paintings.” However, all of Arnoldi’s compositions are unified by his conviction that each work must be autonomous. “In abstract painting, an artist invents a problem and solves it,” he says. Like the Inca architects of Machu Picchu, who found balance in asymmetry. Arnoldi's work resides in numerous major public and private collections and museums internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain.


July 15, 2021 - September 4, 2021
In the late 1950s, when New York was the capital of the art world, Los Angeles was a leader in several industries that would improbably help LA to rival Manhattan in artistic importance. One was the movie business. Another was aerospace. Equally significant, LA was a place where many people lived without industry or artistic pretensions, thriving instead on sun and surf, sometimes augmented with spiritual practices and psychedelics. Over several decades, these personal and professional factors would coalesce in ways that overcame the predominance of Abstract Expressionism and offered meaningful alternatives to Minimalism and other East Coast advances in abstraction. Hard-edge painting was pushed to a "fetish finish" perfection. Light and Space Art transformed museums into immersive environments. In myriad ways, Los Angeles artists combined cinematic effects with high-tech materials to create works surfacing their deep interest in perception, influenced by factors ranging from Zen Buddhism to the natural beauty surrounding them. These advances reached full maturity in the final decades of the 20th century. Modernism Inc. has exhibited key Los Angeles abstractionists since the gallery’s founding in 1979, representing renowned painters including Charles Arnoldi, Edith Baumann, James Hayward, Peter Lodato, David Trowbridge, and John M. Miller. Building on this history, as well as the gallery's notable 1993 restaging of Four Abstract Classicists—a landmark 1959 Los Angeles County Museum exhibition that introduced the world to the creative ferment in Los Angeles—Modernism is pleased to present LA Abstraction: 1980-2000, a sweeping survey of fourteen major abstractionists who collectively reveal the diversity of abstractions that flourished some 2,500 miles from Manhattan. Los Angeles artists paid close attention to visual perception from the beginning. In the early ‘60s, Larry Bell began to experiment with glass, fascinated by the ways in which it both reflected and absorbed light, defying its own materiality when coated with thin films of metal. Several years later, James Turrell discovered that he could make art with pure light passing through holes in his studio walls. Atmospheric effects were also explored by Mary Corse and Lita Albuquerque in painting and sculptural objects. Over the following decades, Light and Space Art would overtake entire galleries and spill out into the open, especially when Turrell and Albuquerque adapted optical effects to the tradition of Land Art. Simultaneously all of these artists worked in two dimensions, imbuing the traditional picture plane with unfathomable depth, as can be seen in numerous works on view at Modernism. Related to Light and Space, and sometimes overlapping with it, was a fixation on formal abstraction, sometimes hard-edge or imbued with a fetish finish. The Modernism exhibition includes many fine examples. In the case of artists such as Scot Heywood, John M. Miller, Edith Baumann, Peter Lodato, and Alan Wayne, geometric compositions hold the eye in suspense through juxtaposition of colors and shapes that are always exacting and often surprising. James Hayward’s canvases show equal attention to perceptual nuance, achieved through the application of countless layers of oil paint, often of different hues, to create works that appear monochromatic and that seem to radiate captured light. Tony DeLap and David Trowbridge have both pushed formal abstraction into three dimensions, finishing materials such as wood to the same rigorous standards as their painted surfaces, breaching the divide between perception and reality. The relentless experimentation present in all of this work is central to the work of Charles Arnoldi and Ed Moses, whose paintings round out the Modernism show. Over six decades, Arnoldi has found abstraction in the natural lines of gathered twigs, has assembled abstract compositions by segmenting painted plywood with a chainsaw, and has challenged distinctions between painting and drawing in acrylic abstractions that energetically press organic flourishes against hard-edge geometry. Moses was no less inventive over seven productive decades. An original member of the pioneering Los Angeles artists known as the Cool School (along with Larry Bell), Moses referred to himself as a “mutator” whose art was unified only by a commitment to mark-making in the service of perceptual discovery. The vast range of Moses’s work is a sort of synecdoche for LA abstraction more broadly. Whether hard- edge or organic or rendered in thin coatings of metal, the works in LA Abstraction all awaken the viewer to the boundlessness of what the eye can see.

Gottfried Helnwein

Eyes That Knew No Shade of Sin or Fear

May 6, 2021 - July 2, 2021
Nearly two centuries after the great Spanish artist Francesco Goya made the series of prints known as The Disasters of War, eternally preserving the atrocities he witnessed during six years of conflict between Spain and France, Gottfried Helnwein set out to create a new version. Beginning in 2008, Helnwein sought to show that cruelty is not history, and also to shift the focus from battlefield hardships to the inner life of children. “I want to see what’s going on through the child’s eyes,” he says. With that psychological shift came an important permutation in meaning, from graphic accusations of crimes against humanity to metaphors “for the potential of innocence.” Helnwein is still painting Disasters, surpassing the ten-year span that Goya worked on his print sequence. The seventy-ninth painting, completed earlier this year, is featured in Eyes That Knew No Shade Of Sin Or Fear, a major new exhibition of Helnwein’s magisterial art, which will go on view at Modernism gallery next month. Depicting a young girl holding an Uzi, looking away from a grinning Mickey Mouse, The Disasters of War 79 powerfully conveys the urge children feel to fortify themselves against the atrocities pervading modern society, and their struggle to remain true to their guileless fantasies. These psychological tensions, and the insights they provide about the fraught conditions of the contemporary world, reverberate throughout the exhibition of thirteen paintings, all completed in 2021. Although they vary considerably in their iconography – evoking artists ranging from John Everett Millais to Edward Hopper – the artworks are unified by the moral impulse Helnwein identifies with Goya, which he describes as the compulsion to “force people to look at things they would rather not look at.” Several paintings in the exhibition are structured around Disney characters. In addition to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck is an important figure, connecting Helnwein’s artwork to some of the first art that made an impression on him: the drawings in comic books he found as a child in post-War Vienna, left behind by American soldiers, which gave him hope in a land of despair. “It was like opening the doors of heaven,” he recalls. The cognitive disconnect he felt between Disney’s thrilling playspace and the cold reality of an Austrian society in a state of depravation and collective denial is one that allows Helnwein still to empathize with children’s troubles, and to present the world from their point of view. This sensibility can also be found in works that place cartoon-inspired figures in hyper-realistic urban hellscapes, such as All That We See or Seem is But a Dream Within a Dream. Portraying a wide-eyed female manga character in front of a car on fire in a collision of imagery rivaling James Rosenquist’s Pop Art juxtapositions, the painting suggests that our world has become ferociously hostile to the imagination, burning out the last respite of childhood innocence. All That We See or Seem is But a Dream Within a Dream takes its title from a poem by Edgar Allen Poe, a major influence on Helnwein, alongside Goya and Disney. In the 1849 poem, Poe describes the sensation of passing time, comparing it to grains of golden sand seeping through his fingers more quickly as he tries to grasp them more tightly. While Poe’s poem speaks to the grown-up sensation of aging, and its apparent acceleration over the course of a lifetime, Helnwein’s paintings evoke the accelerating advance of grown-up problems on the first years of life. Two centuries after Goya completed his Disasters of War, Helnwein shows that the atrocity not only persists, but also that the cruelty is threatening all possibility of innocence in those who will follow us. Most recently the subject of a major retrospective at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, and compared to the work of old and modern masters including Franz Xaver Messerschmidt and Francis Bacon, Helnwein’s work has been exhibited extensively worldwide, and is featured in the collections of major museums in Europe, Asia and the United States. All That We See or Seem is But a Dream Within a Dream is his 18th one-person exhibition at Modernism gallery. image: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” 2021, oil & acrylic on canvas


Drawn In

March 9, 2021 - April 24, 2021
After a long hiatus from drawing—during which she focused on painting and video and stage design—Kremer has returned to charcoal, as well as graphite and pen and ink. Drawings old and new are the subject of her 17th exhibition at Modernism Gallery, opening on March 9. The show encompasses her monumental untitled charcoals, seven from 2006-7 and one more that Kremer created expressly for this exhibition, three smaller-scale Feather River series drawings from 2006, and, among other works, a selection of elegantly minimal crow quill drawings of flora that she composed earlier this year in response to the landscape she encountered in the South Pacific.

Glen Baxter

Beyond the Basalt Obelisk

March 9, 2021 - April 24, 2021
Attending the Leeds College of Art in the early 1960s, Glen Baxter found himself surrounded by students who cared only for abstraction and sought to paint like Mark Rothko or Willem de Kooning. As a lifelong fan of the Marx Brothers, Baxter was skeptical of their bombastic posturing, and all the more so when instructors chastised him for his irreverent figurative drawings. Taking his cue from his hero Harpo Marx, and also countercultural figures such as Alfred Jarry and André Breton, Baxter rebelled against the seriousness of the artworld by making art that was seriously unserious. Over nearly six decades, Baxter has created an absurdist alternate reality, depicted in masterfully deadpan line drawings, often captioned and sometimes hand-colored. Modernism Gallery is pleased to present nineteen recent dispatches—several reflecting life under quarantine—in Beyond the Basalt Obelisk. Baxter’s unique oeuvre evolved from his deep appreciation of Surrealism. Early in his career, he was especially inspired by the 1930s collages of Max Ernst. Ernst’s expert appropriation of Victorian engravings – and his subversion of their self-conscious propriety through nonsensical reshuffling – provided Baxter with a compelling alternative to the self-seriousnessof Abstract Expressionism. He made the art of juxtaposition his own by appropriating the British adventure books of his youth. Their overwrought style, and language far too sophisticated for the young audience they were intended to entertain, translated naturally into a visual idiom that Baxter enlisted to upend the society he lived in utilizing the leverage of humor. “The foundation of Baxter’s work is the intentional embrace of qualities that made these adventure stories ludicrous,” writes the art critic Jonathon Keats in an essay for the catalogue published to coincide with Baxter’s Modernism exhibition. His pictures and words are slightly out-of-place and don’t quite connect. “The frisson (to use a favorite word of Baxter’s) arises from the inappropriateness, which is neither as random as a blunder nor as targeted as satire. Baxter’s drawings most overtly enlist juxtaposition in an ongoing series set in the Wild West, where cowboys come face-to-face with the sort of abstract art his Leeds classmates so admired.


Imagined Journeys

January 21, 2021 - February 27, 2021
Modernism is pleased to present its sixth one-person exhibition of paintings by New York-based artist Duncan Hannah. Duncan Hannah creates a world evocative of an earlier era, with quiet theatricality and unspoken narratives. With Europe often the setting for his atmospheric scenes, the artist reinvents a period in which fashionable figures wander the streets of London and Paris, a classic car races in the Monaco Grand Prix, and a train makes it way through the snow-laden Alps. Hannah favors mysteries left open to interpretation, and likes to wander in time, as a filmmaker or novelist might. With this bit of distance, his paintings become fictions of an invented world.


Remembered Reveries

January 14, 2021 - February 27, 2021
Modernism is pleased to present its fifth one-person exhibition of photographs by Robert STIVERS. For Robert Stivers, the subject that he chooses to photograph is only the beginning of his creative journey. The choices of pose, scale, viewpoint, tonality, and focus, followed by his labored darkroom manipulation of the image are as extensive as if he were painting on a blank canvas to achieve his ends. The observable world before his lens are thus transformed into Stivers’s personal figments of his imagination. Unlike painters and sculptors whose works exhibit a recognizable style, photographs often do not immediately signal their creators. However, it is uncanny how images by great photographers like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon can immediately be differentiated. Their photographs have a recognizable “signature" of style. So it is with Robert Stivers. His unique and very personal photographic vision is unmistakable and a tribute to his originality. On seeing Stivers’s photographs, it might not come as a surprise that his earlier artistic career was as a professional dancer. The human figure is the predominant focus of his lens. Being aware from experience of the physical possibilities and limitations of the human body, Stivers challenges his models into a dizzying array of poses from sublime gracefulness to dramatic and alarming contortions. He is also keenly aware of the creative possibilities of isolating his camera on eyes, hands and feet for dramatic effect. Beyond the human form, Stivers is apt to focus his attention on anything that captures his imagination from clouds, waves, typewriter keys, or even a hive of bees. What is always present, however, is Stivers’s concentration on the subject at hand without superfluous detail or a cluttering of distracting details. The singularity of subject allows the viewer a clarity of contemplation. Robert Flynn Johnson Curator Emeritus Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco For further information about this exhibition please email us at

Shawn Huckins

All You Had To Do Was Call

November 5, 2020 - December 22, 2020
Modernism is pleased to present its third one-person exhibition of new paintings by Shawn HUCKINS. Titled ‘All You Had To Do Was Call,’ this series of paintings continues Huckins’ broad theme of combining classical portraiture with digitally driven communication. The twist to this exhibition is that every painting contained within the show originates from a different European country. “I wanted to highlight the trend of the growing phobia in younger generations of speaking on the phone, who often would rather communicate via text, or social media. With our smart technologies, communication with our loved ones, local and abroad, has become effortless and instantaneous, but lacks an emotional connection. How often have we had to decipher someone’s text message as frustration, sarcasm, or a bad joke?” says Huckins. As with previous works, each of Huckins' canvases is based on a 18th or 19th century painting which he meticulously copies by hand, superimposing text culled from social media. Despite extreme differences in idiom, Huckins finds 21st language to elaborate or comment on the content of classic genre pictures and portraits. For instance, Huckins recreates Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ 1814 "Grande Odalisque" with the words WIT US DARLING, TIME WILL NEVER TEL. The portrait "Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle," composed by the English society painter George Romney, is embellished with the word Mood.. And a portrait of Francis II, the last Holy Roman Emperor, receives the oft-tweeted phrase FELT CUTE, MIGHT DEL L8TR across his well-appointed figure. Huckins is particularly interested in the impact of technology on language. "Technology influences how much we know and what we believe, as well as how quickly and intelligently we convey our ideas," he says. "As goes our grammatical literacy, do our social and cultural literacies follow?" Attempting to find social media jargon to speak for a time in history when letters were carefully composed by pen, he tests how much can be said in a tweet, and how much is abandoned. However, in the tradition of Ed Ruscha, Huckins' artwork is as much about painting as language, and depends on his extreme skillfulness for its visual impact. As the critic Michael Paglia writes in Art Ltd., "The refined sensibility of the original paintings and of the formal portrait photos that Huckins references sets up extreme contrasts to the vulgar world of our own time, which is laid bare by the meanings inherent in the inserted text." The contrast is crucial for Huckins, and works both ways; the edgy language encourages us to look at historical paintings and photographs with fresh eyes. Neither venerating nor vilifying the language of social media, Huckins refers to texting as "a growing and evolving method of communication which changes as does our world." Building on Pop Art and the appropriations of Pictures Generation masters such as Richard Prince, Huckins' paintings confront our latest mode of expression to reveal what has changed in our world and what remains perennially the same.


Les Boulevards de la Création Décollages from 1952 to 2006

September 17, 2020 - October 31, 2020
Modernism is pleased to present its seventh in-depth survey of décollage works by Jacques VILLEGLÉ, one of France’s most influential contemporary artists. For over seventy years, Jacques VILLEGLÉ’s work has played an important role in redefining what constitutes a work of art. He is an artist who was instrumental in bringing the streetscape into the space of the exhibition. EXCERPT FROM THE FORTHCOMING MONOGRAPH: JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS BY BARNABY CONRAD III: Jacques Villeglé is an aristocratic scavenger who spent most of his life wandering the streets of Paris, pulling torn advertising posters off the ancient walls and pronouncing them Art. “In seizing a poster, I seize history,” he says. “What I gather is the reflection of an era.” Born in Brittany in 1926, Villeglé was a seventeen-year-old architectural apprentice in Nantes during the bleak days of the German Occupation. After the Liberation in 1944, he moved to the City of Light, where he was drawn to filmmaking, avant-garde Lettrist poetry, and painting. The prewar art movements of Cubism and Surrealism had melted into abstraction, but Villeglé’s earnest attempts at Art Informel soon struck him as redundant, and he destroyed his canvases. Without a job and at loose ends intellectually, he became a flaneur, a curious intellectual roaming through war-scarred Paris. “As I walked through the streets, I was struck by the color and typography of the posters. In those days, the cinema and concert posters rarely had images—just words—and they had been torn and shredded to where they became something else, with a post-cubist look to them. I began to see them as paintings made by anonymous hands.” In 1949, Villeglé and his then artistic collaborator, Raymond Hains (1926–2005), scavenged advertising from billboards on the grand boulevards, snatched political posters in the financial district, and pillaged Left Bank walls plastered with flyers for jazz concerts and art exhibitions. Mounting them on canvas, they presented them as a new kind of art. Between 1949 and 2003, Villeglé himself plucked more than 4,500 works from all twenty of Paris’s arrondissements, carefully labeling each with the exact date and street address of the heist. Each work became a unique time capsule of the ever-changing city. Right from the start,” he wrote, “I anticipated that the eventual output of this series would surpass the production of the most imaginative of my generation’s painters, and that my a priori determination to focus on the oeuvre of a diffuse collectivity would give me greater freedom than any achieved by the artist facing a blank canvas.” Villeglé was an archivist using anonymous crowdsourcing to create art. In his extensive writings and interviews, Villeglé portrayed himself as a medium for the faceless genius of the Lacéré Anonyme, the anonymous lacerator whose restless hands tore and reshaped the posters into something different. “What I like above all about posters is the disorder,” stated Villeglé. “I start with material that was produced without any thought process and then apply a thought process.” With a sharp knife and a hearty tug on the multilayered posters, the artist captured the DNA of daily life in Paris, preserving it forever. During his exile in Zurich in 1917, Vladimir Lenin told the Romanian poet Valeriu Marcu, “One must always try to be as radical as reality itself.” Villeglé’s use of real materials unleashed a radical new way to make a “painting.” By 1960, he had become a central figure in the Nouveaux Réalistes (New Realists), a group of artists [Yves Klein, Pierre Restany, Arman, Raymond Hains, Mimmo Rotella, etc.] who used real objects and industrial materials to make art. Paris contains some six thousand streets, ranging from grand boulevards to medieval alleys, each expressing architectural quirks, social class, and the personalities of its residents. Today, the titles of Villeglé’s artworks are a poetic roll call of Paris’s street names. “Sometimes I wandered through quartiers I didn’t know well and would get lost. And then I would see something on the wall. When I was attracted to an image or to an abstract shape or color, I acted very fast. Impulsive but precise action is what counted. Hard to describe it, but you just know when you’ve got something good.” Villeglé’s collecting habits may have been impulsive, but early on he understood that he had tapped into an enormous river of expression. “I realized right from the start that lettering would change, that new colors would be developed, that photography would be employed someday. Electric blue didn’t exist, for instance. So right from the beginning I saw this material would be historic and would constitute an archive, a ragged memory of our era.” Jacques VILLEGLÉ’s work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe, and is the collections of many important museums worldwide (Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Detroit Institute of Arts; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Gallery, London; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée d’Israël, Jerusalem). In the fall of 2008 a major retrospective of his works was exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. In 2011 Modernism published the English translation of Villeglé’s theoretical writings Urbi et Orbi from 1959. The major monograph JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS by BARNABY CONRAD III, a Modernism Inc. (San Francisco) and Inkshares (Oakland, CA) publication, will be available this winter

Naomie Kremer


March 12, 2020 - August 29, 2020
"Embodiment" marks Naomie Kremer's 16th solo show with Modernism. Her prolific experience with video art and abstract comes to fruition as hybrid paintings that explore "bodies as landscapes" and "landscapes as bodies". Her six channel video installation overlays video portraits of nude friends and acquaintances with the the textures of her abstract paintings and found objects. Kremer creates an "immersive environment that explores embodiment" as it is experienced through "individual and interpersonal relationships". Kremer explains: “Nudity involves stripping off the most basic way of presenting oneself in the world. Unclothed, the body can only present itself, serving as a canvas for overlays of story.”

Jerry Kearns

Fact Witness

January 9, 2020 - February 29, 2020
Modernism is pleased to present FACT WITNESS, a painting exhibition by Jerry Kearns. This is the artist’s 10th solo show with the gallery. This exhibit features 8 new paintings, completed over the past three years. Each canvas is 84 inches in height and varying widths. The size repetition lends a cinematic, interrelated and overlapping reading of the images. Kearns began this series, following the passing of his wife from pancreatic cancer, by exploring the way in which living with and alongside terminal illness had distorted their sense of time. "There were long periods of feeling suspended, a woman on a still trapeze, stopped in time and space. We were walking along an edge between being and non-being. Everything you were and knew grows distant. You feel out of sequence with others, isolated in an unknowable rapidly changing reality". "Our personal story was surrounded and framed by a fast-changing America. I was increasingly feeling the insanity of the ceaseless flow of misleading alternate facts, where there is no truth, where everything is transactional. I felt an inflated mad Joker had taken power, and he held deeply disturbing authoritarian tendencies."

Eva Lake

Her Highness

January 9, 2020 - February 29, 2020
Modernism is pleased to present its first exhibition of collage works by Portland-based artist Eva LAKE. A longtime student of ancient art history and archaeology, Lake has been especially interested in reshuffling images and ideas that she had to memorize and theorize about. This was the case for Egypt, Greece and Rome, and in the Her Highness series, the sculpture of India. In the spirit of Hannah Höch [1889-1978]—who appropriated and recombined images from mass media to critique popular culture, and the socially constructed roles of women—each of Eva Lake’s collages is a striking, often playful, amalgamation of ancient sculpture and the mid-century modern woman. Lake makes stone come to life, and with her background in the fashion and beauty worlds, she condenses time via the modern woman, who had her own stony, etched-in experience of life. She is timeless and moves through the centuries with ease. Lake also reverses the conventional roles, exploring gender and identity, with a nod to John Stezaker’s male/female hybrid Marriage portrait collages. The ancient deities pictured are otherworldly, untouchable, spiritually beyond question, for the most part male, and of genius and absolute authority—whereas the mid-century woman tends to be none of those things. That is not what was expected of her, that is not how she was groomed. In Lake’s work, the voiceless, mostly anonymous beauties of her youth possess a rewritten script. Her Highness has taken root, knows transformation, and has burst from the rock. Eva Lake has exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe since the 1980s. She is the recipient of multiple awards from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family foundation. Her work is included in the public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Portland’s Arts and Culture Council.

Sheldon Greenberg

Sheldon Greenberg - Cinéma Vérité

November 20, 2019 - January 25, 2020
In Cinéma Vérité, Greenberg experiments with painting as film by repeating images and strips of information that translate into a moment of time. Images sometimes are overlapped or erased, diffused and become something other than reality, like a memory or a dream. Greenberg's unique oil paintings on paper are composed as a digital palimpsest subsequently printed and mounted on aluminum.

Damian Elwes

Artist Studios: From Picasso to Kusama

September 12, 2019 - October 26, 2019
In the 1940s, Henri Matisse advised young artists to make copies of their favorite paintings. Nearly half a century later, Damian Elwes decided to follow his advice with a twist. "I went to Paris and made paintings of the studios of my favorite artists," Elwes says. What began as a way of learning from deceased masters—including Matisse—has developed into a vast body of visually- and conceptually-rich work to be exhibited in a solo show at Modernism Gallery in September. Elwes has painted the studios of great artists ranging from Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin to Pablo Picasso and Yayoi Kusama to Roy Lichtenstein and David Hockney. His lush canvases not only reference their work aesthetically but also excavate their creative processes by meticulously reconstructing spaces that no longer exist. To research each artwork, Elwes delves deeply into history, scrutinizing dozens of photographs and literary sources as well as the masters' own paintings. He also seeks out the buildings where the artists' studios were once situated. In the case of Matisse, his sleuthing resulted in the rediscovery of the house in Collioure where the artist invented Fauvism in 1905. In others he successfully reconstructed the original arrangement of objects and furniture. "The sense of painterly well-being that pervades [Elwes' canvases] comes from painstaking research," explains the art critic Anthony Haden-Guest. "Elwes wants the viewer to feel he is witnessing creation... to feel what it is like to inhabit each of these painters." For Elwes, there's also the conviction that these studios are found compositions. "These people were so visual that even the negative space has been thought about," Elwes observes. "So what I'm doing is painting thousands of still lives laid out for me by the most creative minds of the last century." Picasso's many studios, as painted by Elwes, are emblematic. Included in this exhibition will be a special installation of the panoramic eight-panel painting of Picasso’s studio at Villa La Californie, Cannes, 1956. Elwes spent more than twelve years creating this monumental, immersive painting, which depicts hundreds of works of art that Picasso worked on in that year. In historical terms, Elwes' canvases represent an invaluable contribution to the understanding of how some of the 20th Century's greatest artists were influenced by their physical surroundings. In conceptual terms, the paintings are absolutely contemporary, reactivating familiar masterpieces through recontextualization, as has been achieved in different ways by Roy Lichtenstein, John Baldessari, Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman. Damian ELWES (born 10 August 1960) is a British artist who lives and works in Santa Monica, California. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across America and Europe, and was most recently the subject of a retrospective at the Musée en Herbe, Paris, in 2018. The public is cordially invited to attend an opening reception on Thursday, September 12th, from 5:30-8PM. image: Yayoi Kusama’s Studio (Tokyo, 2012), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 84 inches

Jonathon Keats

Pioneers of the Greater Holocene

September 5, 2019 - September 5, 2019
GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE WILL TERRAFORM CITIES TO QUASH THE ANTHROPOCENE Pioneers Of The Greater Holocene Will Launch In San Francisco On September 5th – Modernism Gallery Will Host Debut Event – Global Expansion Will Be Coordinated By New University Institute August 12, 2019 – As the International Union of Geological Sciences assesses human impact on the planet, determining whether our species has triggered a new geological epoch, a grassroots organization has begun a global effort to give back Earth's crust to all forms of life. The Pioneers of the Greater Holocene will survey spaces shared by humans and other organisms, documenting symbiotic living arrangements as inspiration for future ecosystems, while simultaneously collaborating with non-human species to renegotiate the realms that Homo sapiens dominates today. "The International Union of Geological Sciences is expected soon to proclaim a new epoch dubbed the Anthropocene," says experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, founding president of the Pioneers. "While their work is laudable, we need to take it as a challenge. We should do all we can to protect and promote the Holocene, the geological epoch we inherited." With the launch of a San Francisco chapter on September 5th, the Pioneers will systematically catalogue places in the Bay Area where attributes of the Holocene still endure, from Muir Woods to the weeds growing out of Mission District sidewalk cracks. These will not only serve as models for Holocenic revival elsewhere in the world, but also may provide scientific grounds for remaining within the current epoch as we contend with Anthropocenic excess. "Geologists have a fixed procedure for deciding when a new epoch begins," Mr. Keats explains. They must identify a material change in Earth's strata – such as the global impact of an asteroid strike – and then stake out geological evidence of the transition with a golden spike. "Until the spike is struck, we have an opportunity to preserve the Holocene by curtailing use of Anthropocenic substances such as industrial fertilizers, fly ash and plastics, and changing the socioeconomic systems that bring environmental ruin. We have the potential to bound the human stratum, and perhaps even to remediate it, putting the Anthropocene behind us as an unfortunate geological interlude." To offset the Anthropocene, and to foster ecosystems where all life can thrive, the Pioneers will collaborate with plants, fungi and bacteria to rewild the planet. In San Francisco, a city undergoing rapid development, the organization will distribute seed packets containing native grasses that will take root wherever people spread them, from empty lots to busy streets. Over time, these grasses will provide the groundwork for forests to flourish within the urban matrix, not as decorative features for humans but as habitats where all species meet as equals. The organization will also provide a special nutrient mix for lichens, symbiotic organisms capable of transforming concrete into soil while also purifying the atmosphere. "We can't direct how this formula may be washed over skyscrapers, any more than we can officially sanction appropriation of jackhammers to plow through highway asphalt and plant the interstates with grass," says Mr. Keats. "The Bay Area has a reputation for disruption. Preventing a new epoch by re-terraforming the planet is the ultimate disruptive act." Eventually comprising a global network of concerned humans and other organisms from all phyla, the Pioneers are expected to become a force of nature. Members will also actively support environmental scientists through their documentation of Holocenic ecosystems they find and create, contributing photographic records to the archive of a new Institute for the Greater Holocene. Opening in the fall of 2020, and hosting a major exhibition on life after the Anthropocenic interlude, the Institute will be situated at a major state university, the name of which will soon be released. "The Holocene began with the end of the last ice age 11,700 years ago," observes Mr. Keats. "Since interglacial periods typically last 40,000 years, we should be able to enjoy our epoch for another twenty-five to thirty millennia. This layer of crust we live on is really quite pleasant. We can probably sustain it, and be sustained by it, if we don't give in to Anthropocenic fatalism." ... The Pioneers of the Greater Holocene will hold a special launch event on Thursday, September 5th from 5:30 to 8:00 at Modernism Gallery, 724 Ellis St., San Francisco, CA. Visits can be arranged by appointment through September. For more information, call 415/541-0461, email, or visit ... Acclaimed as a "poet of ideas" by The New Yorker and a "multimedia philosopher-prophet" by The Atlantic, Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer and experimental philosopher. His conceptually-driven interdisciplinary projects explore all aspects of society through science and technology. In recent years, he has installed a camera with a thousand-year-long exposure time – documenting the long-term effects of climate change – at the Arizona State University Art Museum; launched a reciprocal biomimicry initiative – allowing non-human species to benefit from human technologies – at Bucknell University; opened a photosynthetic restaurant serving gourmet sunlight to plants at the Crocker Art Museum; and installed a cosmic welcome mat – greeting beings from throughout the universe – at the International Astronautical Congress. Exhibited internationally, Keats's projects have been documented by PBS, Reuters, and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from Science to Flash Art to Slate to The Economist. He is the recipient of multiple Yaddo and MacDowell Fellowships, and has lectured at institutions including Stanford University, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which awarded him a 2015-16 Art + Technology Lab Grant. His latest book, You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future has recently been published by Oxford University Press, which also published his previous book, Forged: Why Fakes Are the Great Art of Our Age. He was recently the Black Mountain College Legacy Fellow at the University of North Carolina - Asheville, and is currently a Research Fellow at the Nevada Museum of Art's Center for Art + Environment, a Polar Lab Artist at the Anchorage Museum, and an Artist-in-Residence at both the Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany and UC Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station in California. A monograph about his art is forthcoming from the Anchorage Museum and Hirmer Verlag. He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco.

Peter Sarkisian

Videomorphic Figures

July 10, 2019 - August 31, 2019
Modernism is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent works by Peter SARKISIAN, a Santa Fe-based new-media artist. All of Sarkisian’s work is grounded in the idea that video, in it’s ubiquitous and most popular form, is an experientially void medium, and that by depriving ourselves of experience in favor of information-based images, we have become unable to grasp the meaning of consequence or to coexist with mutual understanding. His installations therefore attempt to steer the world’s most influential medium back on a collision course with the viewer in order to reintroduce an element of experience to the viewing process. If the filmmaker’s traditional goal is to distract viewers through the suspension of self-awareness, then Sarkisian’s goal is to create a sense of heightened self-awareness by engaging the viewer in constructed environments that blur the line between what is real and what is mediated. "The Videomorphic figures—a phrase Sarkisian coined to describe the video/sculptural hybrid form—are comprised of 3D printed forms onto which animated motions and gestures are projected. Although the robots are noteworthy in part because of their overly cartoon-like compositions, the increasing sophistication of Sarkisian’s projections situates them in a place of the uncanny, where it is easy to reassure oneself at one moment that these objects have not and can never be alive, while still being lured into occasional moments of doubt when the combination of solid form and lifelike motion let us glimpse a world of the future, when actual robots, in the form of charming humanoids will be our near-constant companions." —Dan Cameron, Curator (Excerpt from catalogue essay for the exhibition Sarkisian & Sarkisian, organized by the Orange County Museum of Art, 2014) WATCH VIDEO OF THE VIDEOMORPHIC FIGURES at The public is invited to attend an opening reception on Wednesday, July 10, from 5:30 to 8pm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CALL: 415/541-0461 / FAX: 415/541-0425 OR EMAIL: HI-RES IMAGES UPON REQUEST.

Laurie Lipton

Ex Machina

July 10, 2019 - August 31, 2019
Modernism is pleased to present its first one-person exhibition of drawings by Los Angeles-based artist Laurie LIPTON. “In intricate drawings, Lipton seductively leads us into the drama of a fun house world where technology has gone wild. Her artistic vision is unique in contemporary art and can be easier associated to the apocalyptic cinematic vision of Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER (1982) and Terry Gilliam’s BRAZIL (1985)”. —Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Lipton’s work presents unflinching commentary on the complexities of modern life, both in society at large and for individuals, including the horrors of war, alienation caused by technology, and our “post-truth” world where everything washes over us like fiction. The public is cordially invited to attend an opening reception on Wednesday, July 10th, from 5:30-8PM. To read the full press release please visit our website. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CALL: 415/541-0461 / FAX: 415/541-0425, OR EMAIL TO: HI-RES IMAGES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.

Philippe Gronon


May 16, 2019 - June 29, 2019

Elena Dorfman

Still Lovers and Transmutations

April 11, 2019 - May 10, 2019
Reception for the artist Thursday, April 11, 2019 from 5:30 - 8:00pm

Richard P. Doyle, Jr. and Mark Ulriksen

Game Time

April 11, 2019 - May 10, 2019
Reception for the artists Thursday, April 11, 2019 from 5:30 - 8:00pm

Mel Ramos

Memorial Exhibition

March 7, 2019 - April 6, 2019

Mel Ramos

Memorial Exhibition

March 7, 2019 - April 6, 2019
Modernism is pleased to present a Memorial Exhibition celebrating the life and work of Mel RAMOS. Opening Reception Thursday, March 7, 2019 from 5:30 - 8pm

Valentin Popov & Victor Sydorenko

Collected Moments

February 20, 2019 - April 1, 2019
Reception for the artists Wednesday, February 20th, 6-8pm at Modernism West/Foreign Cinema. Hours: M-F 6-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. Call 415-648-7600 to confirm access.

Lindsay McCrum

Chicks with Guns

January 10, 2019 - February 23, 2019
Reception for the artist is Thursday, January 10, 5:30 - 8 pm


Push Me Pull You

November 8, 2018 - December 22, 2018
Opening reception Thursday, November 8, 5:30-8pm

Patti Oleon

Somewhere Else

November 8, 2018 - December 22, 2018
Opening reception Thursday, November 8th, 5:30-8pm

Charles Arnoldi

Recent Paintings

September 12, 2018 - October 27, 2018
Reception for the artist Wednesday, September 12 from 5:30-8pm


Fool's Gold

July 11, 2018 - September 8, 2018
The public is cordially invited to attend an opening reception on Wednesday, July 11th, from 5:30-8PM.


Something in the Air

July 11, 2018 - September 8, 2018
Reception for the Artist Wednesday, July 11 from 5:30-8 PM

Bill Kane


June 28, 2018 - September 3, 2018
Reception for the artist June 28, from 6-8PM at Modernism West/Foreign Cinema. Hours: M-F 6-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. Call 415-648-7600 to confirm access.

Judy Dater

Personas: A survey of works from 1965-2016

May 10, 2018 - June 30, 2018
Opening reception May 10 from 5:30-8PM

Seth Tane

Trading Places

May 10, 2018 - June 30, 2018
Opening reception May 10 from 5:30-8PM


Traces: Décollages from 1956-2000

March 15, 2018 - April 28, 2018
Opening reception Thursday, March 15, 5:30-8pm