Skip to main content
724 Ellis Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
415 541 0461

Also at:
Modernism West
2534 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 541 0461
Over the past four decades, Modernism has presented more than 470 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
Edith Baumann
Glen Baxter 
Jean-Charles Blais
Lucien Clergue
Judy Dater
Elena Dorfman 
Michael Dweck 
Damian Elwes
Sheldon Greenberg 
Philippe Gronon
Duncan Hannah
Gottfried Helnwein
Tony Hernandez
Scot Heywood
Raymond Holbert
Shawn Huckins
Bill Kane
Jerry Kearns 
Jonathon Keats
Naomie Kremer
Eva Lake
Laurie Lipton
Peter Lodato
Kristine Mays
Lindsay McCrum
Yang Mian
John M. Miller
Alex H. Nichols
Andreas Nottebohm 
Patti Oleon
Agnieszka Pilat
Mel Ramos
John Register
Peter Sarkisian
Ben Schonzeit 
David Simpson 
Stephen Somerstein 
Robert Stivers
Mark Stock
Sam Tchakalian 
Mark Ulriksen  
Jacques Villeglé 
Stéphane Zagdanski 
Works Available By:
Erwin Blumenfeld 
Alexander K. Bogomazov 
R. Crumb
Albert Gleizes 
Ivan V. Kliun
Frederick Hammersley 
Henri Hayden
James Hayward 
George Koskas
Le Corbusier
Kazimir S. Malevich 
Albert Marquet
Ilya I. Mashkov 
Edvard Munch
Ivan A. Puni 
Georges Valmier
Andy Warhol
Robert Wilson 
Kirill M. Zdanevich

 

 
Modernism Gallery - Interior 2
Modernism Gallery - Exterior
Modernism Gallery - Interior
> <


 
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: https://issuu.com/info-modernisminc/docs/johnregister_printretrospective For mobile devices: https://issuu.com/info-modernisminc/docs/johnregister_printretrospective/s/10449349

 
Past Exhibitions

Sheldon Greenberg

Interlaced Viewings



April 13, 2024 - May 31, 2024
When Antoine Watteau painted Pierrot, everybody knew the type. Pierrot was a clown, one of the most popular characters in the French "commedia dell’arte." Watteau’s 1718-19 portrait preserved Pierrot’s sensitive persona for centuries after the "commedia dell’arte" disbanded, providing inspiration to artists ranging from Honoré Daumier to Jean-Léon Gérôme. Today Watteau’s painting remains an attraction for connoisseurs visiting the Louvre, but neither Pierrot nor Watteau can compete with Dave Chappelle or Banksy in terms of celebrity. The same can be said of masterpieces such as Jan Vermeer’s "Girl with the Pearl Earring" and John Singer Sargent’s "Portrait of Madame X." Neither woman has the face recognition of Cate Blanchett or Susan Sarandon. Having admired these historic paintings for decades, Sheldon Greenberg wonders whether they might gain new admirers if they were to be reconceived as contemporary art. Greenberg’s speculation was prompted by a book given to him by his wife. “The Louvre: All the Paintings” included “Pierrot” and many more personal favorites. “I decided, okay, I’m going to pick the works that I really love, and I'm going to take the part of those paintings that I find really fascinating,” he recalls. Focusing on the drooping figure of Pierrot and the dynamic confidence of Sargent’s Madame X, Greenberg critically broke down what he saw and systematically reconstituted it in his own contemporary style. Greenberg is a painter with a masterful command of his medium, a stylistic virtuoso who has spent the past several decades exploring novel techniques and approaches to composition. Modernism is pleased to present “Interlaced Viewings,” featuring twenty of his radically postmodern reinventions of important paintings created over the past five hundred years. Although some of the originals are currently in the Louvre’s formidable collection, Greenberg has also chosen masterpieces from museums including the Mauritshuis in the Hague (custodians of Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring”) and the Metropolitan in New York (the location of Sargent’s “Portrait of Madame X”, a painting he first admired while studying at the Art Students League in the 1990s). As eclectic as these works may be, Greenberg has unified them through his use of visual devices carried over from his previous bodies of work. Principal among these are his use of silkscreens, graffiti, and mute charts, as well as stripes and polka dots. Integrated into his beautifully expressionistic impasto brushwork (and often partially covered by it), the silkscreens are especially important on both a visual and conceptual level. Often taking Greenberg’s photographs of palm trees as their subject, they provocatively disrupt the traditional spatial organization of paintings from past centuries. “The trees blow out the whole idea of atmospheric perspective,” he says. “It’s not my intention to have a realistic scene.” The introduction of silkscreens also upsets viewers’ sense of time, at least from an art-historical point of view. Evocative of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1960s “Combines,” and enlisting a photographic process that didn’t exist in the era of Botticelli or Sargent, they add a postmodern layer to the paintings. Self-referential and often ironic, postmodernism has provided artists in many media with a means to resituate the past in the present, combining creative renewal with playful commentary. The postmodern turn is taken further by Greenberg through his choice of titles, which come from popular songs – his interpretation of Pierrot becomes “Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right” in tribute to Bob Dylan – and silkscreened cartoon characters and playfully cartoonish graffiti. “Some of those cartoon images are more easily readable than the main composition,” Greenberg remarks with teasing irony. For instance, his version of Hals has the lute player performing for Minnie Mouse and Watteau’s Pierrot shares the stage with a silkscreened Betty Boop. (As a matter of bringing Pierrot up-to-date, Greenberg takes a greater leap than did Daumier or Gérôme.) But it’s the mute chart, which Greenberg renders in mesmerizing patterns of stripes or polka dots, and sometimes integrates into compositions as patterns on subjects’ garments, that carries his work back to its conceptual origin. “The mute chart came from teaching,” he explains. “This is how students learn to create a mute by mixing complementary colors.” Through the mute chart, Greenberg suggests that his works might teach us how to see again: to recognize the genius of his artistic antecedents, and perhaps to appreciate the present through their eyes.

Michael Brennan

48 Squared



April 11, 2024 - June 8, 2024
JOIN US SATURDAY, JUNE 1ST FOR A CHAMPAGNE RECEPTION AND CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL BRENNAN AND JONATHON KEATS RECEPTION: 2-4PM | CONVERSATION: 3PM The event is free and open to the public. Jonathon Keats is an art critic, experimental philosopher, conceptual artist and author of the "48 Squared" exhibition catalogue. Walking toward his studio one morning, Michael Brennan was reminded of the painter Thomas Eakins. Although he was nowhere near the Schuylkill River – where Eakins painted his iconic portrait of the rower Max Schmitt in 1871 – Brennan unexpectedly found himself standing astride a shimmering body of water. The previous night, a rainstorm had flooded the empty lot next to his space in San Francisco’s South of Market district. Always attentive to outlandish inspiration, Brennan spent the day painting his own version of Max Schmitt in a Single Scull, featuring the rower surrounded by graffiti and detritus, trapped in an urban cesspool. Michael Brennan has an eye for absurdity and a hand so adept with a brush that his oil paintings are often initially mistaken for photography, revealing their virtuoso command of impasto only on careful examination. Combined with an encyclopedic command of art history, these talents make the implausible palpable, fulfilling his childhood hero Salvador Dali’s prescription to “make of surrealism something as solid, complete and classic as the works of museums.” Modernism is pleased to present forty-eight of Brennan’s brazenly original art historical pastiches, ranging from his relocation of Eakins to his combination of modern masters with "48 Squared." “A lot of it is subconscious,” Brennan explains. Worlds combine by free association of visual references. Juxtapositions are surprising yet appear inevitable after they’ve been captured on canvas. For instance, Woman II sets a Vargas girl on the same picture plane as Willem de Kooning’s radical 1950s reinterpretation of femininity. Barb takes up the same theme in a different way by merging a painting by Kara Walker with a hyperrealistic rendering of Barbie. Another frequent art historical motif makes an appearance in Gesture, which surrounds one of Auguste Rodin’s famously expressive hands with a plethora of cartoon hand gestures drawn from Preston Blair’s classic How To Draw, a book Brennan found on eBay. Brennan’s mixture of high and pop culture has important antecedents in Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, as well as Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein, all of whom find their way into his all-consuming compositions. For example, one of Johns’ targets frames the famous scene in Georges Méliès’ Trip to the Moon where the Man in the Moon is shot in the eye with a bullet-shaped rocket. Lichtenstein also makes several appearances; Brennan overlays scenes from San Francisco with his brushstrokes like a postmodern graffiti artist. Brennan is fearless with his references, gamely taking on the challenge of repainting Monet’s Water Lilies and iconic portraits of Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh. In Obscura, Jan Vermeer’s Girl with a Red Hat is casually set inside a Mondrian grid, evoking their shared interest in the camera obscura and the relationship between optical devices and the gridded picture plane. Brennan appears to make fun of his own precociousness in Mona Lisa Smile, a portrait of the TV personality Bob Ross painting La Gioconda. But the painting also communicates a deeper conviction. “Art is a level playing field,” he says. “Anyone can paint anything.” In his own case, painting anything means painting everything, but always with an attitude uniquely his own. “The art world takes itself way too seriously,” he explains. “A lot of artwork is tongue-in-cheek, but people don’t realize it. I just want mine to be a little more obvious.”

Naomie Kremer

Fugues



February 8, 2024 - April 4, 2024
Naomie Kremer has spent a lifetime mastering modes of expression from drawing and painting to writing and musical notation that can be creatively combined to convey more than any can say in isolation. Her “urge toward inclusion” reaches a new level of intensity in her newest body of work, where many techniques are combined, as are myriad points of view. Modernism is pleased to present "Fugues," a selection of seven paintings and one video that evoke the "gesamtkunstwerk," the merging of all of forms of art.

Judy Dater

Poets, Prophets & Pioneers



February 8, 2024 - April 4, 2024
In celebration of Black History Month, Modernism is pleased to present a preview of Dater’s most recent and ongoing portrait series, in which she depicts Black intellectuals ranging from the eminent Angela Davis and Wole Soyinka to San Francisco’s 44-year-old poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin.

Impressions: Modern & Contemporary Editions



November 29, 2023 - January 20, 2024
At the 1980 Venice Biennale, Joseph Beuys presented his philosophy on fifty industrial blackboards. Central to his vision was the proposition that art is capital – "Kunst = Kapital" – by which he meant that the value of money is illusory and the only source of wealth is creativity. The use of blackboards emerged from Beuys’ conviction that art should manifest in public, and from his habit of lecturing as an artistic practice. Showing the blackboards in museums and biennials expanded the timeframe of those performances, allowing people not present in the moment to encounter his ideas vicariously. But how to circulate the ideas more broadly? Possibly taking inspiration from currency, Beuys produced multiples and prints. Silkscreened on a blackboard, replicating a slogan on one of the fifty blackboards shown in Venice, "Kunst = Kapital" instantiates many of Beuys’ most radical ideas in a single ingenious artwork. Editions of prints have provided artists with the opportunity to distribute their imagery for as long as there have been techniques of reproduction. "Kunst = Kapital" shows that editioning can also provide a novel source of meaning. Whether drawn to the concept of mass-production or the aesthetic qualities of etching, great artists approach editioning with more in mind than mere replication. Inspired by the variety and quality of high-caliber prints, Modernism is pleased to present 35 distinctive expressions of printmaking by twenty-four artists in "Impressions: Modern & Contemporary Editions." For Henri Matisse, printmaking provided a medium in which the directness and intimacy of a pen-and-ink drawing could be transformed into a finished work as autonomous as his great paintings. His prints proved also to be an ideal space for formal experimentation, and the perfection of the aesthetic qualities he most valued. With no margin for error, plate and stone challenged the artist to live up to the standard he articulated in "Notes of a Painter:" “The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything has its share.” Brice Marden was equally attentive to the irreducible totality of his compositions, and to the distinctive visual effects that can be achieved in each medium. Encompassing both paintings and prints, the works in his "Muses and Meres" series chart landscapes he experienced over a lifetime in highly personal terms, enlisting the formal language of abstract expressionism. The optical differences between oil painting and lithography reveal different aspects of these places. For Mel Ramos, printmaking bolstered the conceptual foundations of his painting. At the beginning of his career, Ramos took inspiration from comic books, painting vigorous portraits of superheroes such as Superman. Later applying methods of mechanical reproduction to his Pop imagery, Ramos literally and figuratively flattened the brushwork with which he lifted Superman from the page. Superman paradoxically became more realistic by emphatically returning to two dimensions. Printmaking has a deep relationship with artist’s books, from "livres d’artiste" to the offset volumes that Ed Ruscha began to publish in the 1960s. First published in 1968, "Nine Swimming Pools" made an unexpected journey from the offset printing press to fine art lithography in 1970, when Ruscha created a print that depicts his printed book lying on a tabletop. If Ruscha’s artist’s book questioned the preciousness of traditional livres d’artiste, his print slyly questioned whether the offset artist’s book was any less precious. A couple decades after Ruscha tweaked the livre d’artiste tradition, John Register showed it to be as vital as ever in a series of seven etchings produced in response to John Fante’s "Ask the Dust." The sequence of prints reflects Fante’s story in Register’s hauntingly spare visual language. The limited edition in which his prints appeared offers two vantages, one verbal and the other pictorial, that are complementary because they’re distinctive. Printmaking also invites collaboration between artists, who can produce a unified image even if their media are different. Such is the case in Judy Dater’s collaboration with Naomie Kremer. Dater’s photograph of a nude woman and Kremer’s abstract drawing merge to evoke the mythic figure of Nike in a spectacular digital pigment print by sharing the same ink. Radcliffe Bailey, who passed away in November, engaged in a different form of collaboration, making prints in communion with ancestors whose photographs he inherited from his grandmother. In "Brother of the Wind," Bailey combined collage with printmaking and hand painting, embellishing areas around the antique photograph with colorful marks inspired by his everyday life, resulting in an intergenerational dialogue that transcends time and place. The print is unique, exemplifying the fact that the printmaker’s art is not necessarily a matter of editioning. If artistic creativity is the essence of wealth, then printmaking is one of humanity’s richest pursuits. In 35 distinctive artworks, Modernism affirms Beuys famous equation: "Kunst = Kapital."

Sameh Khalatbari

Alienation



October 5, 2023 - January 31, 2024
Arriving in Silicon Valley in 2013, Sameh Khalatbari was greeted by a torrent of social media. She was “friended” and “liked” by people she'd never met. Even those she got to know were more inclined to interact online than to pick up the phone and say hello. As an immigrant from Iran, Khalatbari was not surprised to find faster internet connections and superior technology in Northern California, but what puzzled her was the way people used these technical advantages to thwart their humanity. Khalatbari was trained in Persian miniature painting before studying contemporary art. The tradition, which often includes depictions of non-human animals in relation to people, contrasted dramatically with the egocentric culture of the selfie. The more she experienced life in Silicon Valley, the more she perceived degrees of alienation, first from the natural world, then from fellow humans, and finally, for each pixilated individual, from the soul within. “In the virtual sphere,” she says, “our digital selves transcend reality, concealed behind layers of deceit and masks that obscure our true essence.” Modernism is pleased to present Alienation, Khalatbari’s stirring response to a decade spent in a place that becomes more virtual every day. Each of the dozen paintings in her new series depicts a woman like herself, portrayed in shades of gray, donning a colorful mask. The masks evoke the faces of animals such as foxes, roosters and rabbits. The colors make them far livelier than the women who wear them, but they’re rendered with origami folds that betray their artifice. Evocative of the surrealist paradoxes rendered by artists such as René Magritte, the juxtaposition is deeply ironic. “Unlike us, animals require no masks,” Khalatbari explains. “They act in alignment with their primal needs—hunting, eating, sleeping, and surviving. In stark contrast, humanity, driven by desires, often adorns masks, sometimes cloaking their actions under the guise of animalistic norms. As the world marches forward, it is humans who seem to behave strangely, while the animal kingdom remains steadfast.” Nonetheless, Khalatbari is unsatisfied with blunt contrasts and societal critiques that leave no space for redemption. Conditions in Silicon Valley are not inevitable, nor are they immutable. To signify the realm beyond social media – and beyond simplistic animal symbolism – Khalatbari outlines wings behind some of her figures, suggesting that real metamorphosis is possible. Anybody can become more than the zero-sum total of their social media selfie, if only they show some imagination. Encouragement comes from an unexpected place. One painting in the series includes a realistic depiction of a multicolored bird. Perched on the origami antlers worn by a grayscale woman, the bird serves as “a reminder that other creatures observe our enigmatic transformation.” Whether we are able to learn from nonhuman creatures remains to be seen. However, Khalatbari’s paintings provide a powerful reminder of their presence – and perhaps their capacity to renew our humanity – even in Silicon Valley.

John Register

The Long View



September 21, 2023 - October 28, 2023
One afternoon in 1986, John Register made a sketch of a man waiting for lunch in a restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway. There was nothing exceptional about the man, and the restaurant was typical of midcentury Southern California eateries. But the manner in which the diner rested his chin in his hand while gazing out the window reminded Register of Auguste Rodin's "Thinker". The sketch was done in just a few moments, jotted swiftly enough to capture the essence of the scene before the man's order arrived. The painting that Register completed in the following year is as timeless as Rodin's sculpture. What makes "Man Seated in Restaurant" such a fine canvas, beyond the masterful composition and the artist's commanding sense of color, is Register's ability to transform an everyday scene into a philosophical treatise, compelling the viewer not only to look but also to think. Throughout his 23-year career – tragically cut short by illness and death in 1996 at the age of 57 – Register accomplished this feat by approaching the artistic tradition of realism with a keen intellect and firm moral conviction. "A realist today must deal with the threat of the bomb, extraordinary materialist and Philistine values, a hypocritical government, and a generally vulgar environment" he wrote in 1989. "Consequently, the subject matter of a realist painter must capture the feeling of isolation, the tension of nothing happening. The suspended animation. The frozenness one feels when confronted with this environment." Modernism is pleased to present "The Long View", a major retrospective of John Register’s paintings, prints and drawings, many of which were first shown at Modernism while the artist was alive. The artworks represent nearly the entirety of his career, showing his artistic development and the consistency of his vision, as well as the versatility with which he treated favorite locations and subjects. Although Register was born in New York City and had a successful advertising career on Madison Avenue before studying at the Art Students League, his artistic focus was on Los Angeles and the Southwest from the outset. He imbued these places with the iconic quality of movie stills, sometimes evoking the mood of stories by Raymond Chandler or John Fante (it’s no coincidence that he illustrated the Black Sparrow Press edition of "Ask the Dust"). In his chosen locations, Register sought “places where real life has taken place,” such as the lobby depicted in "Hotel with Four Chairs" (1974), explaining to his biographer Barnaby Conrad III that “they are something we experience universally, a sort of common denominator of interior space.” He also preferred unexceptional furnishings, as can be seen in paintings such as "Yellow Chair" (1976). “It’s not that the ordinary chair is beautiful,” he observed, “but that in its ordinariness it becomes the essence of a chair.” In contrast to "Man Seated in Restaurant", most of these spaces are unoccupied, inviting the viewer into the picture. It’s one of the signal differences between Register and the artist he’s most often been compared with, Edward Hopper. “With Hopper, you witness someone else's isolation,” he explained to Conrad in "John Register" (Chronicle Books, 1989). “In my pictures the viewer becomes the isolated one.” Register has also often been incorrectly associated with 1970s photorealists such as Ralph Goings and Richard Estes. In common with these artists, he often used photography as the starting point for a painting, carrying a camera in his pocket wherever he went. But the photograph was never his subject, as was the case with Photorealist contemporaries. His work has at least as much in common with early 20th century Precisionists such as Charles Sheeler and even mid-century hard-edge abstractionists such as Ellsworth Kelly, and of course Richard Diebenkorn. As Register explained, “rendering from a photograph in a photo-realist manner would be so boring. For me painting is less rendering and more distillation. I try to reduce an image to its essence.” To achieve this distillation might take months or years of constant effort. Compositionally unnecessary details were removed, reflecting Register’s conviction that “every realist painting has to be judged on its abstract merits.” Equally important, colors were reworked to evoke emotions, enhancing and exploring the sense of isolation, an existential condition he felt more acutely in the final decade-and-a-half of his life, as he faced kidney failure and cancer. The results are perhaps most clearly evident in "Waiting Room for the Beyond", a 1983 canvas that he turned into a silkscreen in 1988. An unexceptional chair is set in an empty room suffused with light, clouds visible through the window behind it. The chair is empty, facing the viewer, beckoning. In his preface to "John Register: Persistent Observer", the catalogue for a major 1998 retrospective at the San Jose Museum of Art, the legendary art historian Peter Selz astutely observed that Register’s work “went far beyond the self-imposed limitations of realism to reach for the spiritual.” Through his distinctive combination of observation and invention, Register made the spiritual realm as real as a diner or hotel lobby.

Scot Heywood

Planar Variations



July 12, 2023 - September 1, 2023
From the day he first picked up a paintbrush, Scot Heywood knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish. Heywood has been single-mindedly focused for the past half century on “the experiential possibilities of a nonrepresentational geometric abstract painting.” Although he was inspired by the pioneering abstraction of Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, Heywood came of age in 1970s Los Angeles, where masters such as John McLaughlin were perfecting a hard-edge aesthetic and fetish finish that would make "Broadway Boogie Woogie" seem figurative by comparison. Absorbing the work in his midst, including the emphatically nonrepresentational painting of contemporaries such as James Hayward, Edith Baumann, Ed Moses, Mary Corse, and John M. Miller, Heywood developed a unique approach that forefronts “the frontal nature of the painted plane, precognitive experience, and, ultimately, singularity.” Like other painters of the period, he began his quest by creating monochromatic panels, modulating light in terms of the relationship between color and the painted surface. In this way, he effectively addressed Clement Greenberg’s 1961 assertion that “The first mark on a canvas destroys its literal and utter flatness,” which, Greenberg argued, led artists such as Mondrian to produce “a kind of illusion that suggests a kind of third dimension.” However, it was an early accident that led to Heywood’s crucial breakthrough, distinguishing his work and establishing his future direction. While organizing monochrome paintings on his studio floor, he observed the chromatic relationship between them, and also noticed the lines made when they were set side-by-side. These marks were not illusionistic, but a consequence of the physicality of the canvases. Another physical parameter became apparent when he set the canvases on the wall and one of them slipped out of alignment. “Suddenly I had gravity,” he recalls. “Suddenly I had tension on an extreme level that I couldn’t get from lining them up evenly.” With those compositional elements, together with his command of color and texture, Heywood had all he needed to explore the experiential possibilities of abstraction on his own highly personal terms. Ever since, it’s been a matter subtle incremental change. “It’s like a four- or five-year period and then – boom! – just a minor shift,” he says. Modernism Gallery is pleased to present "Planar Variations," featuring fourteen paintings created by Heywood between 2007 and 2020. The paintings all enlist Heywood’s multi-panel format to achieve tension and balance. Although they range in scale, their physical presence is always profound. They are all effectively architectural, the walls acting as a support for their visual structuring of the surrounding space and the viewer’s perceptual experience. Heywood’s handling of gravity is a decisive factor. In paintings such as "Double Edge – yellow, blue, gray" and "Double Edge – red, blue, yellow," he uses slippage of a panel to evoke a gravitational difference between different color weights. The slippages also introduce physical asymmetries that, because the paintings are so perfectly balanced visually, make the room seem to tilt and torque. These effects are especially pronounced in his "Haikube" series. Within each of his paintings, Piet Mondrian sought to achieve a quality he called “dynamic equilibrium.” Through his arrangement of multiple panels, Heywood takes dynamic equilibrium beyond the confines of the picture plane to include the space occupied by the viewer. Ultimately the dynamic equilibrium is kinesthetic, experienced in the spectator’s own body. As Heywood explains, “The structural and coloristic intent is always directed towards a dynamic/static tension, forcing the viewer into not simply a conceptualization of the work, but one that allows for a physical relationship between viewer and painting.” The result is “a viewer-painting relationship that is direct, immediate, and timeless.”

Sheldon Greenberg

Interlaced Viewings



July 12, 2023 - September 1, 2023
When Antoine Watteau painted Pierrot, everybody knew the type. Pierrot was a clown, one of the most popular characters in the French "commedia dell’arte." Watteau’s 1718-19 portrait preserved Pierrot’s sensitive persona for centuries after the "commedia dell’arte" disbanded, providing inspiration to artists ranging from Honoré Daumier to Jean-Léon Gérôme. Today Watteau’s painting remains an attraction for connoisseurs visiting the Louvre, but neither Pierrot nor Watteau can compete with Dave Chappelle or Banksy in terms of celebrity. The same can be said of masterpieces such as Jan Vermeer’s "Girl with the Pearl Earring" and John Singer Sargent’s "Portrait of Madame X." Neither woman has the face recognition of Cate Blanchett or Susan Sarandon. Having admired these historic paintings for decades, Sheldon Greenberg wonders whether they might gain new admirers if they were to be reconceived as contemporary art. Greenberg’s speculation was prompted by a book given to him by his wife. “The Louvre: All the Paintings” included “Pierrot” and many more personal favorites. “I decided, okay, I’m going to pick the works that I really love, and I'm going to take the part of those paintings that I find really fascinating,” he recalls. Focusing on the drooping figure of Pierrot and the dynamic confidence of Sargent’s Madame X, Greenberg critically broke down what he saw and systematically reconstituted it in his own contemporary style. Greenberg is a painter with a masterful command of his medium, a stylistic virtuoso who has spent the past several decades exploring novel techniques and approaches to composition. Modernism is pleased to present “Interlaced Viewings,” featuring twenty of his radically postmodern reinventions of important paintings created over the past five hundred years. Although some of the originals are currently in the Louvre’s formidable collection, Greenberg has also chosen masterpieces from museums including the Mauritshuis in the Hague (custodians of Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring”) and the Metropolitan in New York (the location of Sargent’s “Portrait of Madame X”, a painting he first admired while studying at the Art Students League in the 1990s). As eclectic as these works may be, Greenberg has unified them through his use of visual devices carried over from his previous bodies of work. Principal among these are his use of silkscreens, graffiti, and mute charts, as well as stripes and polka dots. Integrated into his beautifully expressionistic impasto brushwork (and often partially covered by it), the silkscreens are especially important on both a visual and conceptual level. Often taking Greenberg’s photographs of palm trees as their subject, they provocatively disrupt the traditional spatial organization of paintings from past centuries. “The trees blow out the whole idea of atmospheric perspective,” he says. “It’s not my intention to have a realistic scene.” The introduction of silkscreens also upsets viewers’ sense of time, at least from an art-historical point of view. Evocative of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1960s “Combines,” and enlisting a photographic process that didn’t exist in the era of Botticelli or Sargent, they add a postmodern layer to the paintings. Self-referential and often ironic, postmodernism has provided artists in many media with a means to resituate the past in the present, combining creative renewal with playful commentary. The postmodern turn is taken further by Greenberg through his choice of titles, which come from popular songs – his interpretation of Pierrot becomes “Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right” in tribute to Bob Dylan – and silkscreened cartoon characters and playfully cartoonish graffiti. “Some of those cartoon images are more easily readable than the main composition,” Greenberg remarks with teasing irony. For instance, his version of Hals has the lute player performing for Minnie Mouse and Watteau’s Pierrot shares the stage with a silkscreened Betty Boop. (As a matter of bringing Pierrot up-to-date, Greenberg takes a greater leap than did Daumier or Gérôme.) But it’s the mute chart, which Greenberg renders in mesmerizing patterns of stripes or polka dots, and sometimes integrates into compositions as patterns on subjects’ garments, that carries his work back to its conceptual origin. “The mute chart came from teaching,” he explains. “This is how students learn to create a mute by mixing complementary colors.” Through the mute chart, Greenberg suggests that his works might teach us how to see again: to recognize the genius of his artistic antecedents, and perhaps to appreciate the present through their eyes.

Sameh Khalatbari

1401 N/m² Resistance



May 18, 2023 - July 1, 2023
On September 16, 2022, a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini was beaten to death in Tehran. Detained on the road and separated from her family, she was tortured and killed by the Gasht-e-Ershad, Iran’s morality police. Her crime? Improperly wearing the hijab, exposing her hair. Within hours, protesters had filled the streets of Tehran and many other cities. Seven thousand miles away in San Jose, the Iranian-American painter Sameh Khalatbari watched the news on television. As a woman who’d been forced to cover her hair before emigrating to the United States, she felt intense distress. She nervously sketched as she stared at the TV. When she looked down at the iPad resting in her lap, she found that she’d drawn hundreds of lines. “I felt a responsibility to be the voice of the people in Iran and to spread the word with my art,” she recalls. “But I couldn’t be direct. I still have family there. When I visit, I could be arrested.” Her art could not be figurative, as it had been in the past. “I thought of using the lines I’d drawn as a symbol of women’s hair.” Modernism is pleased to present a selection of 12 works from the series Khalatbari created in response to Amini’s murder and the ongoing conditions of gender apartheid in Iran. Her first solo show at the gallery, 1401 "N/m² Resistance" takes its name from the year of the protests according to Iran’s Solar Hijri calendar and the metric unit of pressure. “'Resistance' alone could not express the magnitude of the event,” Khalatbari explains. To embody her ideas and express the intensity of her feelings, she developed an entirely new technique. In the past, Khalatbari had always painted in acrylic on prepared canvases. For the new body of work, she worked with string, which she extended across canvas she stretched herself. “I wanted to make everything from scratch to show how this movement grew up from the heart of society, and how people naturally came to the street,” she says. “All of the fibers are natural, evoking women’s hair.” Four of the works in the series are black, each bearing the name of a city where the protests were especially intense, suggesting the darkness of events. The remainder are white, which Khalatbari chose to show the calm perseverance of women in spite of their inner pain. A red thread runs through these works, symbolizing those who died in the protests. “Even with this loss of life, and even with the relentless pressure on their bodies, women stood in resistance,” she asserts. “They’re still standing and resisting.” In aesthetic terms, Khalatbari’s abstract canvases evoke the artwork of Eva Hesse, deriving their strength from her mastery of raw materials and physical forces. This visceral effect is counterbalanced by Khalatbari’s commitment to symbolism in relation to color, connecting her work to Bauhaus masters such as Johannes Itten and Wassily Kandinsky. Yet Khalatbari distinguishes herself from these aesthetic forebears because her art is also resolutely political. For many artists, abstraction and politics would be in tension. Khalatbari balances them as meticulously and elegantly as a mathematical equation.

Ilya and Kirill Zdanevich

From Futurism to 41º



May 18, 2023 - July 1, 2023
When Kirill Zdanevich [1892-1969] came of age as a painter, artistic movements were proliferating more rapidly than most artists could assimilate. From Impressionism to Fauvism to Cubism, every "ism" appealed to Zdanevich more than the formal training that he was receiving at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. By the time he competed his studies in 1913, traveled to Paris, and started to exhibit in Moscow, the young Georgian artist was fully committed to the avant-garde. But Zdanevich, unlike other radicals of his generation, was not convinced that any movement had all the answers. As Russian avant-garde contemporaries such as Kazimir Malevich [1879-1935] made their case for the absolute truth of movements such as Suprematism, Zdanevich resisted by combining multiple movements in the same composition. He provocatively called it "Everythingism." Kirill was not the only Zdanevich with maverick ideas. While he was advancing Everythingism, his brother Ilya [1894-1975] was developing a new approach to theater, comprising an orchestra of voices each performing in a different poetic style. In order to score these complex vocal arrangements – as aesthetically pluralistic as Kirill’s canvases – Ilya invented a dynamic new approach to typography. Introducing an impressive array of artistic advances to their native Tiflis, and influencing the artistic avant-garde throughout the region, the brothers were close collaborators until the Russian Revolution overtook Georgia, Ilya emigrated to Paris, and the siblings were unwillingly separated by the Iron Curtain. Modernism first introduced the Zdanevich brothers to San Francisco viewers in 1991, as Mikhail Gorbachev was introducing perestroika and glasnost to the Soviet Union. Thirty-two years later, as Russia invades Ukraine and recklessly revives Cold War divisions, Modernism presents a second exhibition of the Zdanevich brothers in less encouraging geopolitical circumstances. However, Kirill and Ilya’s artistic pluralism, which so perfectly matched the ‘90s spirit of glasnost, is arguably more vital now as an against-all-odds affirmation of cosmopolitanism. Presenting eighteen works on paper by Kirill and three typographic works by Ilya, the current Modernism exhibition takes its name, "41°," from the collective that the brothers formed with several artistic contemporaries with sympathetic temperaments and beliefs. 41° stood for strong alcohol, high fever, and the latitude of Tiflis; their ambition, as articulated in the one and only issue of their newspaper, was nothing less than “to put the world on a new axis”. Ilya pursued this ambition by liberating poetry from the burden of meaning. Sound was the essence of his performances, but his orchestral arrangements were also highly visual. Treating type as raw material for abstract composition, and sometimes counterbalancing lettering with collage, his layouts are simultaneously literary tours-de-force and graphic masterpieces. Kirill’s drawings and paintings are also orchestral, orchestrating seamless arrangements of Impressionism, Cubism, Rayism, and even Suprematism. Orchestral painting represents “the purest artistic mastering,” Kirill proclaimed. The catalogue essay for his first major show in Tilfis elaborated: “By blending styles, the master frees art from the confines of temporary objectives.” From the vantage of 2023, the truth of that statement is far more evident than it could possibly have been in 1917. Against the parochialism of the present moment, Kirill and Ilya Zdanevich offer an invigoratingly liberating vision.

Mikhail O. Dlugach

Avant-Garde Film Posters of the 1920s



April 26, 2023 - July 1, 2023
Mikhail O. Dlugach [1893-1988] was a prolific Ukrainian poster artist and graphic designer. He was born in Kiev in 1893 and received his artistic training at the local art school where he studied from 1905 to 1917. In 1922 he moved to Moscow and started working as a film poster designer, soon becoming one of the leading artists in the field. In 1924 he joined the advertising department of the newly-established Reklam Film. The following year he produced his first film poster "Brigand Arsen." The trial proved successful and was rapidly followed by those for "Red Devil," "Kabiriya," and "At the Pillory." In 1926 Dlugach joined AKhRR (The Association of the Artists of the Revolution), a union of artists who advocated realism in art. In his distinctive designs the figures of film actors were skillfully drawn and arranged on the poster plane into mises-en-scènes from the advertised films. In 1931 Dlugach also became a member of ORRP (The Association of Revolutionary Poster Artists). In 1940 he helped to design the exhibition pavilion at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow. Dlugach continued to produce posters through the 1960s, executing over 500 during his career. His film posters of the 1920s and later established his place as a master of poster art. For this work he was officially recognized with the mounting of a major one-person retrospective in Moscow in 1985. Dlugach died in 1988 at the age of 95. His works are in the collections of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate, London; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Naomie KREMER

Terra



March 16, 2023 - May 13, 2023
AN EXHIBITION OF PAINTINGS, HYBRID PAINTINGS, AND VIDEO Many millennia before art was exhibited in galleries and illuminated with track lighting, paintings decorated the walls of caves where they were enlivened by the flickering of torch flames. The fugitive light animated the Ice Age depictions of animals while also rendering their forms ambiguous. Visitors could look at them forever and never see the same picture. Naomie Kremer achieves an equivalent effect utilizing far newer media. Manipulating photographs of her paintings in video editing software, Kremer projects the moving images onto the canvases, accentuating the internal dynamics of compositions that hover between abstraction and figuration. “Uncertainty is more stimulating than certainty,” she says. “The state of uncertainty is dynamic.” The dynamics of uncertainty are at the core of Terra, Kremer’s 18th solo exhibition at Modernism Inc. Created during the anxious years of the pandemic, as Kremer was in the midst of moving her studio, these paintings and hybrids manifest her reckoning with instability, and her recognition that the personal and planetary shakeup provided an opportunity for unprecedented creative development. Although Kremer has been making digital hybrids for more than a decade, animating her paintings with disparate video footage, the pandemic provided her with the context to recognize that the paintings could animate themselves. “In the midst of the confinement of the pandemic I decided to give myself a wide-open space to explore,” she recalls. Isolated from worldly distractions, limited to making art and taking walks in the woods near her home, she became more focused while simultaneously letting her practice grow more expansive. The three hybrid paintings in the Modernism exhibit – two of them animating paintings she created years ago – bear witness to this dual transformation. The chance discovery of several unused canvases led Kremer in another new direction. Kremer had been making drawings copying odalisques in Picasso’s erotic sketchbooks. Finding the primed surfaces of the canvases to be as smooth as paper, and the creamy color of the primer reminiscent of the sketchbook’s pages, she applied bold lines of black paint, allowing each stroke to determine what came next. “Every mark I make stays, and has to be incorporated into the next move,” she explains, comparing the process to the chain of events involved in creating a Surrealist Exquisite Corpse. Further accentuating the dynamic interplay of construction and decoupling, works such as Inklinks I are assembled as diptychs. “There are ways they connect and ways they don’t,” says Kremer. “Eros, flora, fauna, and saga come together in abstract, suggestive ‘stories’ that surprised me.” A third new direction for Kremer also derived from moving to a new studio. Ruined old brushes provided her with novel ways of depositing paint on canvas. Soon she found herself exploring the imprints of brushes purchased from the hardware store: scrub brushes and kitchen brushes that she applied to the canvas like printing blocks. “I was trying to get away from the tyranny of the mark,” she says, describing a problem that has bedeviled masters from Henri Matisse to Jackson Pollock. “I love how those cheap brushes remove the need to make a decision about every stroke. It’s liberating, the way the marks make themselves. It provides a starting point for me to go in and negotiate between them with other colors and marks.” On these canvases, patterns emerge from the concretion of chance events. For example, Teeming turned out to evoke a map of Earth from space. Sometimes, the patterns have more than one valence. Ring Cycle could be interpreted as a representation of tree rings or constellations. For Kremer, this ambiguity captures a deep truth about reality. “From the galactic to the microscopic, there’s a visual relationship,” she says. “My work always has a fractal quality.” Like her digital hybrids and the cave paintings of Lascaux, Kremer’s works on canvas appear different each time they’re observed.

Shawn Huckins

If I'm Home, Find Me Here



January 12, 2023 - March 4, 2023
Our relationship with cloth is visceral and primal -- we are swaddled in it at birth and aside from a caregiver’s embrace, fabric is our first experience with touch and comfort. Who of us, in times of turmoil, has not pulled the covers over our head, or wrapped ourselves in a loved one’s shirt, sweater, or scarf? To be covered is to be comforted, protected, and hidden. To wit, cloak is both a garment and an action to shield from sight. MODERNISM is pleased to present the fourth solo exhibition of contemporary American painter Shawn Huckins. The works in “If I’m Home, Find Me Here” employ modern fabrics painted over traditional American portraiture to explore questions surrounding what, how much, and how well we share and hide. In these hand-painted recreations of historic works, fabrics are staged on a model in the studio, lit from the same direction and with the same temperature as the light source in the original painting, then drawn into the final composition. Bold, bright, and colorful fabrics cover all, or significant portions of the portrait. Viewers get few clues about the sitters, save an exposed hand, piece of jewelry, or beloved pet, all superficial details chosen to be revealed. Only in a painting’s title do we learn the subject’s identity, anything more that might be known about these people remains hidden beneath piles of cloth and clothing so ubiquitous it could be our own. Regarding concealment, Huckins says, “We use cloth to conceal, but also to express, selectively, based on how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us. Of course, we don’t express all facets of our identity, some things we hold near out of habit, nature, or fear of ridicule.” "If I’m Home, Find Me Here" gives us the opportunity to question the security of our own concealments. What are we concealing from ourselves and others? What would it mean for the parts we conceal to be exposed? How would others react to our dirty laundry? Portraits of unnamed noblewomen, originally portrayed by painters like Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766) and Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), see the addition of towering fabric obscuring the sitters’ faces. Paintings such as "Pride Portrait II (after Mengs)" shroud the subject while simultaneously supplying information about them. Draping the subject’s face with a Pride flag, rainbow cloth, and various garments suggests identifying characteristics for the unidentified sitter. This leaves us wondering what is hidden and what might be revealed should the fabrics fall, but also probes on how our perception of these subjects might change once uncovered and which subjects we’d prefer to be. On the origin of this body of work, Huckins shares, “Like most people, the global pandemic made me re- think my life goals and what I truly value. I was at a point in my career where I needed to be re-energized by painting again. During the first COVID lockdowns, we couldn’t leave the house and most businesses were closed. To pass the time, I started painting the patterns of my wardrobe, which consists of bold, plaid patterns, to create small, abstract paintings. This exercise was the complete opposite of what I was painting at the time and I found it to be fun, yet challenging. I wanted to combine these experimental paintings with my usual portraits, so I started combining the contemporary fabrics over top historical paintings.” Though the introduction of contemporary fabric is a new direction for artist Shawn Huckins, obscurity of the subject is not a new practice. Selective presentation of the subject was previously utilized in the series of work presented at Huckins’ second MODERNISM exhibition "Fool’s Gold" (2018), where the subjects of historical paintings are obscured by the addition of Adobe Photoshop’s erasure indicator, a grey-and-white checkerboard pattern. While "Fool’s Gold" draws attention to the obscurity of our nation’s history, "If I’m Home Find Me Here" speaks to concealment of the individual’s identity, making this series Huckins’ most intimate yet. SHAWN HUCKINS (born 1984, Laconia New Hampshire) currently resides in the bucolic Monadnock region of southwestern New Hampshire. His work has been exhibited internationally and is displayed in collections of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, The Tucson Museum of Art, The TIA Collection, and The Vicki Myhren Gallery at The University of Denver.

Agnieszka PILAT

ROBOTa



November 4, 2022 - November 22, 2022
As a dedicated young draughtsman with an interest in painting, Leonardo da Vinci was taken by his father to a Florentine master named Andrea del Verrocchio. Impressed by the young man’s talent, Andrea apprenticed him, providing Leonardo with training in skills underlying the masterpieces for which he’s now famous. Leonardo also had a hand in Andrea’s own paintings, contributing to altarpieces and private commissions. Recognizing the value of apprenticeship for artists of promise, the painter Agnieszka Pilat recently offered apprenticeships to Digit and Spot. Unlike Leonardo, Digit and Spot are robots. Products of Boston Dynamics, they’re widely admired for their mechanical dexterity. But it took Pilat – who was schooled in the European tradition of figurative painting – to appreciate their latent creative potential. MODERNISM is pleased to present the results of this unprecedented year-long apprenticeship: a dozen large-scale oil paintings that offer visual delight while expanding upon the conceptual groundwork of Marcel Duchamp and Jean Tinguely by questioning conventional ideas about creativity, authorship, and even human nature. “Working in close contact with a robot gives the impression of an encounter with another mind,” says Pilat. “It seems that the robot has agency.” Each of the two robots shows a distinctive artistic personality. With a humanoid form and movements that must be programmed in advance, Digit manipulates brushes with an energetic angularity reminiscent of Jean-Michel Basquiat, as can be witnessed in a video on view at Modernism. Shaped like a dog, Spot holds paint sticks in his mouth while making controlled motions under Pilat’s direct guidance. As can be seen on the gallery walls, the paintings have calligraphic qualities evocative of Cy Twombly. Spot has also specialized in making multi-colored circles of spattered paint tracked with his feet, several of which are on view at the MODERNISM show. The circles are geometrically perfect yet spontaneous in their color patterns, a sort of hybrid of Hard-Edge Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism. Pilat was first acquainted with Spot and another Boston Dynamics robot named Atlas when they modeled for her several years ago, reenacting some of the most important works in art history for her previous MODERNISM exhibit. But this new body of work provides a manifestly different perspective, one that comes from within. “All of my apprentices’ gestures are inspired by their motor control, and also reveal their mechanical limitations,” observes Pilat. “Both Digit and Spot are imperfect extensions of my arms. When they transfer my aesthetic ideas onto canvas, those ideas are translated into the physical language of machines.” Pilat finds the awkwardness of the translation to be edifying. “Through flawed execution, my mastery of painterly tradition is reinvigorated,” she says, expressing concern about the decorative superficiality she sees in most contemporary painting. “I am the robots’ master, and also their apprentice.” In the spirit of apprenticeship, Pilat is careful not to take all of the credit. “Imperfections make robot art strangely original,” she observes. The reality of robotics is far less impressive than the hype – no risk of Spot overshadowing her as Leonardo did Andrea del Verrocchio – and this paradoxically this makes them more impressive. “The threat to human artists and their exhausted abstract gesticulations is to be found in the machines’ mistakes,” Pilat asserts. “Through their errors, robots promise to make art interesting again – interesting for people and perhaps one day for their fellow machines.”

Henri Matisse

Nudes and Odalisques



September 8, 2022 - September 29, 2022
In 1903, two years before his emergence as the leader of Fauvism, Henri Matisse made a modest self-portrait depicting himself as an etcher. Based on this small black-and-white print, one might never have imagined Matisse becoming the most radical colorist of his generation. Yet the etching foreshadowed another dimension of his illustrious career, less widely appreciated but equally original. Over the following five decades, working sporadically at the etching plate and lithograph stone, Matisse produced an oeuvre of more than a thousand extraordinary prints and plates for "livres d’artiste". MODERNISM is pleased to present a museum-quality selection of thirty-one prints produced by Matisse between 1913 and 1947, focusing on his nude and draped representations of women in the 1920s, a period during which he almost single-handedly made lithography modern. Printed by the artist in small editions usually not exceeding fifty examples, these works on paper display Matisse’s genius for line and composition in their purest form—dazzling the eyes with nothing more than black ink on white paper—while simultaneously reaffirming MODERNISM’s commitment to major exhibitions of work by modern masters including Edvard Munch, Kazimir Malevich, Pablo Picasso, Alexandra Exter, Alexander Bogomazov, Le Corbusier among others. For all his acclaim as a colorist, Matisse considered the line to be fundamental to his art, working toward his great canvases by drawing from life. Printmaking provided him with a medium in which the directness and intimacy of those drawings could be transformed into finished works as autonomous as the great paintings. His prints proved also to be an ideal space for formal experimentation, and the perfection of the aesthetic qualities he most valued. With no margin for error, plate and stone challenged the artist to live up to the standard he articulated in "Notes of a Painter": “The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything has its share.” Works in “Nudes and Odalisques” range from the deceptively simple to the spectacularly complex. The former category includes etchings of almost impossibly few lines, verging on abstraction, such as "Jeune fille rêvant près d'un bocal de poissons" (1929), showing a young woman gazing past a bowl of fish. The latter category includes lithographs of such subtle shading that the subjects emerge from the page, such as "Le renard blanc" (1929), depicting a young woman cloaked in a luxurious white fox coat. Matisse’s passion for the exotic is well represented in voluptuous odalisques such as "La jeune hindoue" (1929). The eroticism is no less intense in the spare "Nu couché sur sol fleuri" (1929), a work that also illustrates Matisse’s ability to take a figure such as the arabesque as a graphic element unifying the curves of the female body, the contours of bourgeois French furniture, and the patterns of period textiles, all brought to life by the subtlest variations in the ways his stylus touches the drawing surface. “One must always search for the desire of the line,” Matisse told the great collector Sarah Stein in 1908. The lithographs and etchings in “Nudes and Odalisques” deliver the bounty of his search – and are bound to stir up desire in connoisseurs and collectors today. ARTWORK:"Odalisque à la coupe de fruits", 1925 Lithograph on Chine paper, Edition of 50

Raymond Holbert

Aquatic Opera



July 7, 2022 - September 1, 2022
Raymond Holbert’s studio is a swimming pool. Measuring thirty square feet, and twelve feet deep, his underwater set is an otherworldly space where models can express themselves with angelic grace. A versatile artist who has worked in media ranging from pen-and-ink to color photography over five productive decades – and exhibited in venues ranging from the Museum of African American Life and Culture to the Philadelphia Museum of Art – Holbert approaches this studio not only as a realm where physical movement is unconstrained but also where the imagination has free reign. The creative act is a collaborative performance by the models and artist. Holbert calls it an "Aquatic Opera". Modernism Gallery is pleased to exhibit fourteen tableaux from this magnum opus. Taking the form of photographic murals, they each present imagery of bodies in motion that Holbert captured underwater at different times of day, combined with drawings and photographs he has made in his more conventional Berkeley studio and on the streets of the East Bay. These seamless digital collages invite the spectator into the performative space where the dancers await in a state of suspended animation. Some of the men and women wear spectacular costumes, a reminder of Holbert’s decades of experience in fashion photography. The audience’s experience is further enhanced by Holbert’s evocative titles, often laced with operatic references such as aria and adagio, bringing music to mind and transforming each tableau into a Gesamtkunstwerk. Holbert’s entry into this unusual milieu was inspired by his own passion for swimming, and his recognition of the potential of underwater motion from personal experience. “There are movements that can be realized in the water that cannot be done without it,” he says. “The breadth of omni-directional movement is an ability that works for every relaxed swimmer without much regard to capabilities.” The result is a fresh contribution to artistic engagement with swimming seen in the work of masters such as David Hockney. Yet it is equally notable for the numinous quality of a space unconstrained by gravity, a contemporary perspective on the heavenly tableaux of Tiepolo, and a complement to Kehinde Wiley's overhead stained-glass paintings of break dancers at Penn Station.

Kristine Mays

Threads of Existence



July 7, 2022 - September 1, 2022
When Kristine Mays first saw Revelations, Alvin Ailey’s iconic modern ballet, she was moved by the bodies in motion, and Ailey’s transposition to the stage of his experiences growing up as an African-American in segregated Texas. Ailey’s masterpiece gave choreographic expression to physical labor on plantations and the spiritual work of the Baptist church. As a contemporary African-American sculptor, Mays was inspired to attempt an even more radical transformation, capturing these kinds of physical and spiritual movement in thousands of interconnected strands of wire. Mays has developed her unique sculptural method over more than a decade. Initially exploring the sculptural qualities of beading wire she encountered as a jeweler, she has transitioned to monumental figures, each handmade by bending and hooking rebar ties with pliers. Each piece takes at least sixty hours of labor during which she gives form to a human body or garment without reliance on a mold or model. Especially remarkable are the gestural qualities that make the works appear both animate and soulful. “I am breathing life into wire,” she says. “With each work, I create a form that reveals the essence of a person and that speaks to humanity as a whole.” Modernism is pleased to present a dozen of Mays’ large-scale wire sculptures in Threads of Existence, her first one-person exhibition with the gallery. All of the works reference African-American heritage or her own lived experience as a Black woman born and raised in San Francisco. They can be appreciated in purely formal terms in the figurative tradition of Antony Gormley, and their technical virtuosity is in the same league as the wire sculptures of Ruth Asawa. However, Mays’ work can also be fiercely political, an eloquent artistic expression of feminism akin to Anselm Kiefer’s powerful new Femmes Martyres sculpture series, and an equally powerful sculptural statement of anti-racism. Quotations accompanying her sculptures often provide important context for full appreciation of their content. For instance, Mays confronts body image in several sculptures of dresses, which source lines from poets such as Nayyirah Waheed and Ruby Dee. (The latter is contextualized with Dee’s dictum that “The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within - strength, courage, dignity.”) Mays also confronts the history of slavery, and the ongoing oppression of Blacks in the United States, with a sculpture depicting a pair of overalls like those worn by laborers on plantations. Titled Buck, the work speaks to the treatment of African-American men by whites in the past and present. “The Black Buck is not viewed as a man but rather a thing,” she says, referencing victims of bigotry ranging from Emmitt Till to Ahmaud Arbery. “And when his strength, his compassion, his tolerance, his love and understanding is revealed, that is when he is the most vulnerable in a world that wants to deny that he is human.” Exhibited in venues ranging from the California African American Museum to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Mays’ art puts humanity front and center by compelling viewers to see the people within the loops of wire. “The beauty of working with wire is that it’s been used in the foundations of buildings,” she says. “I know it has that durability to last.” Timely and topical today, her work is made to reverberate through the ages.

Jacques VILLEGLÉ

Jacques VILLEGLÉ and the Streets of Paris



May 19, 2022 - July 1, 2022
Modernism is pleased to present its eighth in-depth survey of décollage works by Jacques VILLEGLÉ, one of France’s most influential contemporary artists. This exhibition also marks the release of our major new monograph: “Jacques Villeglé and the Streets of Paris” by Barnaby Conrad III, the first comprehensive book on Jacques Villeglé in English. 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. Jacques Villeglé 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 flâneur, 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 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, just as a lepidopterist might record the habitat of a newly captured butterfly. Each work became a unique time capsule of the ever-changing city. 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.

Edith BAUMANN

New Works



March 24, 2022 - May 14, 2022
Rev. Dr. Richard Davey, Research Fellow in the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University, UK, described Edith Baumann’s paintings as inhaling, then exhaling. “In a fluid gesture, she leaves a breath of paint on the picture surface.” Building on her four decades-long practice of creating geometric abstract paintings, in the current two new bodies of work in the present exhibition, Baumann has integrated a new element, overlapping her usual solid grounds and rectangular shapes, of thinly brushed on layers of paint, which reveal and conceal the colors they overlap, but also display the artist’s hand in a way not seen in her prior work. The rich, strong colors are achieved by Baumann grinding raw pigments to make her own paints. The emerging colors inform the relationship between the solid geometric forms and gestural marks. They do seem to breathe. Beyond historical abstraction, which connoted purity and ascetic withdrawal from the world, Baumann’s paintings are characterized neither by a monkish self-referentiality, nor by unmediated self-expression. While they are personal, they are not autobiographical. Her anti-egotistical position recalls that of California artist John McLaughlin (1898-1976), who appreciated “the economy of means” in oriental paintings. “These paintings,” McLaughlin wrote, “I could get into and made me wonder who I was. By contrast, Western painters tried to tell me who they were.” Like McLaughlin, Baumann paints as much for the spectator as for herself. Modernism is pleased to present its third one-person exhibition of paintings by Edith Baumann. Baumann’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally. She lives and works in Santa Monica, California.

Group exhibition

Autour de l'insolite



January 20, 2022 - March 5, 2022
When the pioneering Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori considered the future of his field in 1970, he anticipated a phenomenon that he found troubling. As automata became more lifelike, more closely resembling humans, Mori predicted that they’d enter an “uncanny valley,” a realm where they were disarmingly bizarre. Mori’s prediction has come to pass in technologies ranging from Disney animatronics to metaverse avatars. However, the great German artist Hans Bellmer anticipated Mori by nearly half a century, deliberately using the uncanny for artistic effect. Bellmer’s celebrated Poupée series of the 1930s featured an articulated pubescent female doll he photographed in sexual poses that appeared almost but not quite human: a fetish object that elicited equal parts desire and unease. One of these important Surrealist artworks is a highlight of a new museum-quality exhibition opening today at Modernism Gallery. Autour de l’Insolite II explores the surprising and bizarre – l’insolite in French – in over 50 works of modern and contemporary art. Encompassing painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography, and featuring artists ranging from Francis Picabia to Hannah Hoch to Tony Oursler to Peter Shire to R. Crumb to Jean-Charles Blais, the exhibition is the second chapter in the gallery’s comprehensive investigation of l’insolite. (The first chapter was exhibited in 1999). Although the uncanny is an important aspect of l’insolite – and thoroughly represented in works by artists including Romi, Carmen Calvo, and Gottfried Helnwein – the exhibition also covers myriad other facets of the surprising and the bizarre. Some works playfully capture how life can be stranger than fiction, such as a spectacular hand-colored 1904 photograph by Underwood & Underwood documenting a couple in a “horseless” carriage pulled by a large ostrich. Other works enter domains beyond human experience, such as the Horsehead Nebula Cloud, as photographed by the astronomer David Malin in 1975. Numerous paintings and drawings drop the viewer into inexplicable situations. Twin girls listen attentively to a bowl of goldfish in an arresting double self-portrait by Elina Anatole. In a charcoal by David Bailin, a middle-aged man surveys an empty landscape from a ladder in his fenced garden. Darkroom magic and photocollage offer other forms of disorientation – including conflicting perspectives and extreme juxtapositions – exemplified by important works by Andre de Dienes, Dora Maar, and André Racz. Artistic visions of the exotic, real or imagined, provide another important theme in the exhibition. The German dancer Alexander von Swaine performs a costumed Javanese dance in a 1920s photograph by Otto Kurt Vogelsang. And in Les Paradis Perdus, the photographer Thierry Vasseur offers his own postmodern version of Eve’s temptation by posing a woman in lingerie wrangling a serpentine twist of metallic ventilation pipe. (John Milton would certainly have been surprised.) Where l’insolite is not directly shown, it’s evoked through figures in various states of reverie or trance. We experience the strangeness of this space vicariously through the diaphanous human figures in the 1930s photography of Edward S. Curtis and a 2003 painting by Grisha Bruskin. Although “surprising” and “bizarre” are standard translations for l’insolite, the concept is really too complex to be contained by terminology, English or French. As the surprising and bizarre work in this exhibition shows, l’insolite truly comes into focus only in art. Exhibiting artists: African tribal art Laure ALBIN GUILLOT [1879-1962] Manuel ÁLVAREZ BRAVO [1902-2002] Elina ANATOLE Anonymous David BAILIN Nono BANDERA Glen BAXTER Hans BELLMER [1902-1975] Wallace BERMAN [1926-1976] Jean-Charles BLAIS Douglas BOND Deborah BROWN Grisha BRUSKIN Carmen CALVO Bruce CONNER [1933-2008] Le Boucher CORPAATO R. CRUMB Edward CURTIS [1868-1952] Andre DE DIENES [1913-1985] Germain DOUAZE Philip GARNER John HAVINDEN [1908-1987] Gottfried HELNWEIN Hannah HÖCH [1889-1978] Shawn HUCKINS James JIN Michael KVIUM Vladimir LEBEDEV [1891-1967] Dora MAAR [1907-1997] David MALIN Sandra MARTAGEX McDERMOTT & McGOUGH Pierre MOLINIER & Clovis TROUILLE [1900-1976 & 1889-1975] Tony OURSLER Robin PALANKER Philadelphia Wireman Francis PICABIA [1879-1953] André RACZ [1916-194] ROMI [1905-1995] Manuel RUFO Peter SHIRE Robert STIVERS Mark STOCK [1951-2014] Hiroshi SUGIMOTO Roland TOPOR [1938-1997] UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD [1859-1947 & 1862-1943] Thierry VASSEUR Otto Kurt VOGELSANG image: Laure Albin GUILLOT [1879-1962] "La Demone," c. 1928 gelatin silver print 15 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches

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

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.

LA ABSTRACTION: 1980-2000



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

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.

NAOMIE KREMER

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.

Duncan HANNAH

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.

Robert STIVERS

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 info@modernisminc.com

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.

JACQUES VILLEGLÉ

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

Embodiment



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 info@modernisminc.com, or visit www.modernisminc.com/artists/Jonathon_KEATS/ ... 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.

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: info@modernisminc.com. HI-RES IMAGES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.

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 https://vimeo.com/79895782 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: info@modernisminc.com HI-RES IMAGES UPON REQUEST.

Philippe Gronon

Versos



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

ALEXANDMUSHI

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

Shawn HUCKINS

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.

Mark ULRIKSEN

Something in the Air



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

Bill Kane

Emanations



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

Jacques VILLEGLÉ

Traces: Décollages from 1956-2000



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