Monday, July 17, 2017

Modernism Gallery’s Brilliant New Re-Invention

I love the chic new design of Martin Muller’s great Modernism gallery. With its bold and dramatic Cubist/ Supremacist/ Constructivist exterior and elegant interior, it is very Martin, and very Modernism, and it is very true to the artists he has presented for the last four decades.

Situated in a lively corner of San Francisco’s edgy Tenderloin neighborhood, Modernism gallery, with a museum-worthy roster of major artists, is an exciting addition to the city’s notable architecture, and cultural life.

Martin Muller worked very closely with the great San Francisco architecture firm, Aidlin Darling Design, to create the new gallery. Formerly in the classical Monadnock building on Market Street (near the new SFMOMA) Modernism now pioneers new territory. Bravo, Martin.

Martin Muller

I’m so excited about Martin’s dramatic new gallery. It’s situated in a space on Ellis Street in the Tenderloin. It’s in an area that’s wonderful for discovery called Little Saigon.

Modernism now occupies a five thousand square foot bi-level single-tenant building one-and-a-half blocks from Van Ness Avenue. First erected in 1946, the former Diebold Safe & Lock Co. building has been completely remodeled by the award-winning San Francisco architecture firm Aidlin Darling Design.

The gallery's design is further enhanced by eighteen-foot-high skylights, polished concrete floors, and moveable exhibition walls that will advance Martin’s tradition of originating international exhibitions of intellectual rigor and importance.

An opening exhibit by Viennese conceptual artist Gottfried Helnwein set the tone for the new gallery space in terms of visual impact, intellectual rigor and global outlook. Helnwein's monumental paintings are sociopolitically charged and technically masterful.

Additional shows scheduled for 2017 include one-person exhibitions of early geometric abstract paintings by David Simpson, who has exhibited with Modernism since 1979, and first-generation Pop artist Mel Ramos, who has exhibited with the gallery since 1981.

Martin will also continue to mount original historical retrospectives—including the gallery's eighteenth exhibition of the Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1930.

The gallery’s publishing program of scholarly books on both historical and contemporary artists will continue, with more than forty titles already in print. 

I’ve admired Martin and his gallery and his artists for years and he has a strong following among serious art collectors around the world who are obsessed with one or many or all of his artists.

I have many Modernism monographs and I treasure their history and important record of art, creativity, expression, individuality and sometimes wit and often-profound emotion.

I recall, still, his shows of Russian avant-garde artists. Collectors who pounced on the Malevich and El Lissitsky paintings in those early days now own treasures museums are desperate to acquire.

Since the seventies, Martin Muller was the first West Coast gallery to exhibit Kasimir Malevich.

More than 500 exhibitions have encompassed Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Vorticism, German Expressionism, and foremost, the Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1930.
Muller has attracted a superb list of international artists (John Register, Peter Lodato, Valentin Popov, Charles Arnoldi, Gottfried Helnwein, Naomie Kremer and over 50 more) for his passionate, curious, devoted and loyal clientele and fans around the world.

Early Modernism gallery landmarks included being the first gallery to show Andy Warhol in the Bay Area (1982), and holding the first exhibition on the West Coast (in a gallery or museum) of the Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1930 and since 1980, 17 more .retrospectives have since been mounted).

In the 1990s Modernism highlighted an abstract series with the exhibition of "Four Abstract Classicists" (1993), a recreation of the show presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1959.

The recent Helnwein show is on the gallery walls is in these images here on THE STYLE SALONISTE.

In the 1990s Modernism highlighted an abstract series with the exhibition of "Four Abstract Classicists" (1993), a recreation of the show presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1959.

Muller introduced the confrontational, and often disturbing, conceptual works of Austrian born artist Gottfried Helnwein in1992.

In 2010, Martin was honored/knighted by the French Ministry of Culture as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. Very heady and very well-deserved.

Over four decades Muller’s discernment and prescience are constant and evident. He avoids trends, and often veers far ahead of art collectors’ curiosity.

Modernism’s 1982 ground-breaking Andy Warhol exhibition — the first time the Pop artist’s work was shown on the West Coast. The show turned out to precede California’s enthusiasm for Pop art. Only one painting sold, for a minute $20,000.

Muller, who has a broad international following, has mounted for than eighteen retrospectives of the Russian avant-garde.

Muller, who has always included photography in his roster, was the first California dealer to show the works of architect Le Corbusier, along with fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld.

Martin Muller

Architect Statement: Aidlin Darling Design 

The design of the new MODERNISM Gallery seeks to honor both the history of the existing structure and the origins of MODERNISM itself.

The new façade of the gallery was inspired by the lithographs of El Lissitsky, one of the first artists to be shown in the thirty-plus year history of the Gallery.

A series of steel frames, planes, and lines are sculpted to create a large street front viewing portal and the primary entry into the gallery.

Within, the design creates a highly intentional and complimentary dialogue between the original structure of board-form concrete walls and wood ceiling members, and the new, crisp, white modern planes that define the walls for displaying art.

The result is intended to create a highly inspirational venue for the viewing of experimental art while pioneering one of San Francisco's up-and-coming art districts.

— Joshua Aidlin, Principal, Aidlin Darling Design

About Modernism Gallery

Founded in 1979, Modernism has since presented more than 375 exhibitions, historical and contemporary, in media ranging from painting to photography, sculpture to performance, by an international roster of artists.

Historical exhibitions encompass concepts including Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Vorticism, German Expressionism, and foremost, the Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1930.

The contemporary exhibits feature rotating shows, six to seven weeks in duration, of the nearly 50 gallery artists—including various representational and abstract modes, sociopolitical, and conceptual works—presented at both Modernism and Modernism West, as well as at art fairs in the United States and Europe.

Modernism publishes collectible books, monographs, catalogs, and fine art editions. Martin Muller is noted for his discernment and collections of art and design books, and for his eclectic gallery publications. His art and design book collection, legendary, now includes 30,000 books.

List of Top Artists of Modernism Gallery

Artists of the Russian Avant-Garde [1910-1930]
Alexander K. BOGOMAZOV [1880-1930]
Liubov S. POPOVA [1889-1924]
Kasimir MALEVICH [1878-1935]

Henri HAYDEN [1883-1970]

Contemporary - Abstract

Contemporary - Representational
Gottfried HELNWEIN
Damian ELWES

Michael DWECK

Jacques VILLEGLE - Nouveau Realiste
Peter SARKISIAN - Video / Conceptual
Jonathon KEATS - Conceptual

The exterior of the Modernism gallery space before the renovation.

The interior of the Modernism gallery space before the renovation.


Photographs of Modernism gallery by Matthew Millman, used with express permission.

Architecture: Aidlin Darling Design
Partners Joshua Aidlin and David Darling have cultivated a team that strives to deliver the highest level of project management, service, and design. Our approach is client and site specific, and questions conventional assumptions.

A collaborative process with clients, consultants, fabricators, and builders allows an open and impassioned exploration and enables a clear understanding of appropriate solutions.

In each project, they seek to uncover an inherent spirit of place and interpret constraints as catalysts for performative design.

The individual character of each project emerges through poetic spatial relationships, material richness, and exacting detail.

724 Ellis Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

HOURS:  Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5:30pm

PHONE:  (415) 541-0461


Modernism is a long time member of the prestigious Art Dealers Association of America and the San Francisco Art Dealer's Association.

Modernism is also the publisher of many fine-art books, Livres d’Artistes, and fine-art editions including catalogues and books on the Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1930, Lazar Khidekel, Erwin Blumenfeld, John Register, Gottfried Helnwein, Mark Stock, James Hayward, George Koskas, Naomie Kremer, Mel Ramos, Lazar Khidekel.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Designer I Love: Pamela Babey

San Francisco interior designer Pamela Babey defines cosmopolitan style. With top clients in every super-charged capital of the globe, she boldly delineates highly original rooms and décor that linger in the mind and dance on the retina.

In Hong Kong, Doha, Chicago, New York, Santiago, Singapore, Paris, Lake Garda, Madrid, The Hague, Milan, Boston, Los Angeles and other star-studded capitals Pamela and her team at BAMO polish and perfect rooms that matter, interiors that resonate.

Come with me and meet Pamela Babey, the forceful and brilliant founder/partner in highly acclaimed San Francisco-based BAMO, and learn her secrets.

San Francisco designer Pamela Babey creates virtuoso décor for chic, imaginative and adventurous clients around the world. Her specialty is understated luxury.

“I am a rebel modernist,” said Pamela Babey, a co-founder in 1991 of the internationally successful San Francisco interior design firm, BAMO.

“I believe bigger is better, and that exuberance in design is a wonderful thing,” said Babey. Her renegade modernist apartment on Russian Hill is a luscious treasure chest of the finest Venetian glass, 18ttth -century etchings, shimmering Fortuny fabrics, rich velvets, and gilded detailing.

Babey, with a highly successful career spanning more than four decades, says she is definitely not a minimalist.

“Less is less exciting, and more is always a thrill,” said Babey recently, at the San Francisco headquarters of BAMO. “ I’m a modernist who loves collections, vivid color, the glint of gold, the gleam of silver, and I can create both subtle and dramatic detail in interiors. I love to delight the eye.”

Babey, with her signature fiery red hair, chic Chanel and Hermes ensembles, in-the-know conversation, and joyful creative energy, is a leader and a visionary in the world of luxury interiors. She was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Inspiration is fleeting and what inspires me at this particular moment may not have gotten a second thought last year. Inspiration stirs the senses and gladdens the heart. I keep my mind open for ideas and new concepts. I constantly seek new places, new books, new people, new art, museums, architecture and fashion to keep excited and inspired and fresh. Designers should know design history thoroughly—and it’s essential that they know what’s exciting now, and what new art show or film or music or styles reflect the zeitgeist.” — Pamela Babey, BAMO

Pamela Babey and Villa Feltrinelli

Pamela designed and re-imagined fabulous Villa Feltrinelli hotel on Lake Garda… that feels more like a grand private mansion than a 5-star hotel.

So successful is her décor that she has refreshed and redesigned it over the years.

In the 2016 update to the Salon, Pamela brought in blue and white Rubelli watercolor fabric, for the feeling of a summer house. The chartreuse and coral pillows accent the butterfly prints that encircle the room. Side chairs are slipcovered in crisp white linens, impeccably maintained by the Villa staff.

In 2016 Pamela updated the Pastore Suite with pale blue-gray colors on the walls and fabrics. She took the sweetness away with a black, white, and gray Fortuny accent. The rooms sparkle.

Lakeside verandas with red and white details frame world-renowned dining the Villa is known for, with views of the water. The terrace is furnished in an almost tent-like fashion with sconces and hanging lights, creating a rustic but convivial atmosphere. 

Babey has spent the last forty years travelling the world, designing luxurious hotels and residences. Selecting art, antiques, and rare decorative objects, she has also developed a community of artisans worldwide. Babey infuses each space with elegance, expression, and pure enjoyment.

“For some projects, my clients love bold color and heightened theatricality in their interiors,” she said. “For others, the effect is muted, pale, and understated.”

Heaven, for her, is in the detail.

Opening up a lavish portfolio of images of a grand hotel she designed overlooking Lake Garda in Northern Italy, she indicated her use of rich hues and artful embellishments. Villa Feltrinelli, a 21-room hotel, is a former family castle built in 1890 in the neo-Gothic style.

“It’s not a heavy-handed restoration. It’s understated luxury, but it’s real luxury,” she said.” This was a fantasy project. We designed everything from crystal to bed linens, to theatrical lighting.”

Working at BAMO with partners Gerry Jue, Michael Booth, Dorothy Greene, and Steve Henry, Babey oversees a portfolio that includes décor as varied as hotels in Uruguay and Bora Bora, Han Yue Lou Hotel in Nanjing, a private residence in Abu Dhabi, a residential compound in Beijing, and several residences and a luxury yacht in Hong Kong.

“Our plan in hotel design is to give a nod to yesterday but make the decor very cosmopolitan, very today,” said Babey. “We don’t do formula design. My designs for hotels feels fresh, a little eccentric, very personal and more like a residence than a hotel.”

Signatures of Babey and her team are clear “happy” colors, subtle textures, attention to detail, and a high degree of fine craftsmanship and planning.

“I am inspired by the exotic nature of D’Annunzio, the spit-and-glue of Tony Duquette, the peace ofa rose garden, the rich patina of well-worn objects. I find inspiration in the spunk of Elsie de Wolf, the rage of Clare Booth Luce, the luscious sensuality of Manolo Blahnik and the taste of a simple roasted chicken. When recalled in the right proportions, they provide the passion to create.” — Pamela Babey, BAMO

Design for Pamela Babey is about the joy of dreaming, creating, experimenting.

“My favorite part of design for clients and for myself is collecting and applying all the details of the decor--the art, the fabrics, the china, the cutlery, the antiques, the frames for the mirrors, the trims and carpets,” said Babey. “It’s so stimulating to do this, and it can give everyone so much delight and surprise. Success for each design project means taking each detail to the nth degree.”

One of her most exciting recent projects has been designing a superyacht, the Lady Candy, for a longtime Hong Kong client.

The yacht now features guest cabins with Fortuny ‘Tapa’ walls and headboards, and very pale wood veneers. Doors are leather with leather hardware, giving a silent feeling to the cabins. Other guest suites feature Rubelli silks. Large suites feature handpainted de Gournay wall coverings.

“I love the color red,” said the designer. ”I think everybody should have a red room. When you walk into the room, it gives a sudden burst of energy, like a shot of caffeine. I am lucky to have several clients and a partner who agree.”

Babey has been traveling to Venice for much of her life, and finds the array of colors, Gothic architecture, the theatrical interiors, her friends, and the reflective light endlessly inspiring.

“I often visit the studio and factory of Fortuny in Venice,” Babey noted. “ It is truly astounding what richness can be created simply by layering paint onto a piece of cotton fabric. Today I can say I will never tire of Fortuny; I cannot imagine life without it.” 

One reason for Babey’s success is that she is always working, and constantly curious and open to new ideas.

“It is impossible to create in a vacuum. My colleagues and clients, and fine artists and craftspeople inspire and energize me. Add to that the interaction from some of the world’s finest artisans and you have an amazing assortment of ideas and solutions, all beautifully crafted. Working on the Villa Feltrinelli, I was very pleased to find highly talented Italian artisans whose crafts were handed down from one generation to the next.” 

At Home with Pamela Babey

“Inspiration is a very personal thing,” added Babey, whose favorite ‘holidays’ includes visiting historic architecture in Portugal, Italy, France and Miami. “I try to surround myself with an environment and with activities and people that give me energy, and passion, to create. In the end, with all of my work and all design I ask myself “Is it pretty?” and the answer must be a very affirmative ‘yes’.”

In my own apartment I have mirrors hung on top of mirrors, and I love the layering of reflecting,” said Babey, who also layers sofas with pillows and table cloths of antique Fortuny fabrics in mysterious colors. She said she will never tire of Fortuny and cannot imagine life without it.

All photography her courtesy of Pamela Babey, BAMO, used here with express permission.


1000 Brannan Street
San Francisco

Monday, June 26, 2017

Celebrating the Great Madeline Weinrib and the Beauty of Ikat

New York artist/designer Madeline Weinrib pioneered traditional ikat designs in vibrant and chic and gorgeous modern colors over a decade ago.

Today, her iconic Ikat pillows are the favorites of top interior designers around the world. Her Ikat weave designs have become a cult--and it seems every creative interior today has to have at least one Madeline Weinrib Ikat pillow or textiles or outdoor fabrics.

With silk and cotton—and her vibrant artist’s eye—Madeline spins beauty and style that add vibrant life to all interiors.

This week, in conversation with Madeline about her Ikat patterns, we hear her ideas, inspirations, and news. Madeline’s insights and knowledge add so much to an understanding of the intricacies and beauty of Ikat weaves.

Come with me to learn everything about Ikats below.

Madeline Weinrib in her New York studio where many designers commission custom-made carpets and Ikat fabrics in a rainbow of colors. Among my favorite tones in her swatches—fresh cornflower blue, radiant indigo blue, the prettiest raspberry pink, a blue-tinged black of great depth, a rich espresso brown, and her vivid Matisse-influenced golden yellow. 

“I’ve always loved the craft of Ikat, and the tradition of hand-dying and hand-weaving. It’s a very ordered way of working, and the finished designs are like a miracle. Each one is different. I’ve working with Ikats for almost two decades, and I am still in awe of how each weaver masters this craft.” — Madeline Weinrib

“In Central Asia where my Ikats are custom woven in my colors, the dyers and weavers are experts of the most refined abilities. In this Silk Road region with centuries of rich textile history they are considered masters. And because of the particular style of hand-dying the silk/cotton yarns—each pattern is slightly different and all are richly beautiful.” — Madeline Weinrib

“My colors are modern and new. They are not at all traditional in Ikat weaving. I work constantly with my weavers and dyers to keep track and identify the specific dyes so that they are re-created exactly as I design them. This is my biggest challenge as I am obsessed with the precise shades I design. My shades are my signature, and they must be reproduced exactly as I see them.” — Madeline Weinrib

“In traditional Ikat weaving of remote Central Asia, where nomads and city weavers prized their crafts, favored colors are very vivid. The weavers love emerald and crimson and chrome yellow and rose pink. They find my colors a bit dull, and are puzzled when I specify indigo with ivory. For them, the more colors they weave, the more valuable is the fabric. I use colors in a minimal way and I’ve distilled the woven patterns to show the mysterious beauty and allure of Ikat. That’s my signature.” — Madeline Weinrib

“My palette is modern, contemporary and fresh—in different styles of handwoven authentic Ikats. For me as an artist and designer it is important to reflect colors and styles of today, and this period of design. Today, now, but with a timeless feeling. It’s my ideology to work with current ideas. If in 100 years or 500 years people are looking at pictures of my textiles, I want them to look beautiful still, and to be immediately identified as made in the early twenty-first century.” 
— Madeline Weinrib

“Traditional looms that my fabrics are woven on are 18 inches wide, so my pillows always have seams. At first I though it was a mistake, but now the mis-matched patterns and the seam are signatures of my pillows. I treat them as paintings or sculpture. For my customers, they will be come heirlooms. That makes my very happy.” — Madeline Weinrib

All About Madeline Weinrib Ikat Pillows

Madeline is constantly adding new patterns of Ikat into her collection and each one boldly offers permutations of color and pattern that define her work. 

Each pillow has been hand-sewn in New York and finished with stitched suede piping, Belgian linen backing, and mother- of-pearl buttons.

70% silk, 30% cotton. Goose down filler.

Variation in color or texture is inherent to Madeline’s handmade, handwoven ikats.

Each pillow is individual and one-of-a-kind. 

News: Madeline Weinrib Introduces Camilla Cotton Carpets

New multi-colored floral carpets in ten different styles are inspired by traditional Persian flower paintings and classical Moghul floral motifs. The pretty flowers are also reminiscent of Botticelli’s delicate floral embellishments. Colors range from ivory and beige to pale blue, red, and green.


Photography in this feature courtesy of Madeline Weinrib.
Where to Find Madeline Weinrib:

126 5TH AVE, FLOOR 2