Monday, May 18, 2015

Line of Beauty

San Francisco painter Susan Swartz celebrates Grace and Art and philanthropy with a new and highly prestigious art exhibit in historic Koblenz, Germany, opening May 20.

In a legendary Russian Hill penthouse, artist Susan Swartz has created a tranquil setting for painting and working on multiple philanthropic projects. Her paintings are a celebration of the natural world.

Susan’s studio setting is in an historic Russian Hill penthouse—originally the colorful residence of the great explorer and aesthete Templeton Crocker. It was, notably, decorated by Jean-Michel Frank and is featured on archival books of Frank’s work.

Come with me to meet Susan and view her newest paintings—and to enjoy a rare encounter with an historical seldom-seen residence in San Francisco.

Susan Swartz in her studio. On the easel is her new canvas, ‘Gratitude/Spring Awakening’.

From the moment artist Susan Swartz first walked into the light-filled penthouse in an historic building on Russian Hill, she knew it would be a tranquil setting for working on her dramatic abstract paintings.

From the sheltered terrace on the upper level, a cinematic view of Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, Treasure Island and the Berkeley Hills.

“It’s very peaceful and quiet up here—and the light is spectacular, life-enhancing,” said Swartz, internationally recognized for her exuberant canvases that capture her intense belief in the healing power of the natural world. Her art and a long roster of global environmental and social causes are her main focus. She paints every day, often for seven or eight hours. 

The custom-made sofas in the living room are by Marco Fine Furniture, a 75-year-old upholstery company on Potrero Hill. Arched windows are framed in Nancy Corzine fabric. On the card table: a thirties silver-gilt hammered tazza by Josef Hoffman. 

Dining chairs are the "Rebecca" designed by Madeline Stuart, from the Madeline Stuart Collection available through showrooms: DeSousa Hughes in SF and Thomas Lavin in LA. The custom-crafted silk and wool carpet is from Tai Ping Carpets. Swartz’s painting ‘Fading Light’ hangs between the windows.

The penthouse has nurtured her creativity. Swartz’s paintings, barely dry, are shipped to top collectors and galleries around the world. In the summer (see details below) she’ll be showing at an historic gallery in Koblenz, Germany. She is represented by the prestigious Belgravia Gallery, London.

The dramatic elliptical carbon fiber staircase was custom-crafted in Los Angeles.

“I love the freedom and intensity of painting landscapes and pure abstraction,” said Swartz. “Nature is my healer, my inspiration. The San Francisco panorama spurs me on.”

As she paints, Swartz is also surrounded by the resonant design history of her penthouse atop one the most elegant twenties buildings in the city. Covering two levels, with rooftop terraces, it was once the languorous realm of scientific explorer and art collector Templeton Crocker, the stylish scion of a Big Four family. 

The sunroom on the upper level was designed for entertaining—with an airy studio for Swartz’s’s paintings. In homage to Templeton Crocker, the original owner, she has covered the floor with hides, as her predecessor had done. The sofas are by Roche Bobois. Mirrored pilasters were designed by Jean-Michel Frank.

Designers have long revered the penthouse with its bachelor’s dream retreat planned in 1928 by legendary French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank. Black and white images from the era show sleek parchment-paneled walls, intricate straw-marquetry cabinets, obsidian lamps, and avant-garde shagreen tables, all crafted and assembled in Paris and shipped to San Francisco. In 1929 French Vogue called it ‘the first genuinely modern interior in the United States’.

In the bedroom, the headboard was custom-crafted by Marco Fine Furniture. Chair by Donghia. At the bedroom door, ‘Exploding Sky’ hangs above a vintage bronze bench. Beyond the door, Swartz's painting ‘Portrait of Winter’. 

When Swartz moved in, the luxurious Frank interiors had long ago been dispersed. All that remained were the bold mirrored pilasters in the sunroom, and a quirky Henri Laurens Cubist-style metal banister on a service stairway.

“I worked to protect the integrity of the architecture, in homage to Jean-Michel Frank,” said the classically trained artist. Like Frank, she shaped interiors in pale neutral tones, calm and elegant, that are in harmony with the sunstruck views.

The chic guest bedroom includes a Venetian lamp on a mirrored chest. 

“Nature is my inspiration, and my message is that it’s fragile and we must protect it,” said Swartz. “That belief gives days in my studio a certain urgency. I’m driven to paint. I can’t hesitate. This is my life’s work.”

Art Exhibit Details

Exhibition Information:

A Personal Path
exhibiting at the Ludwig Museum, Koblenz

Opening: May 20, 2015
Exhibition: May 21 – August 2, 2015

Danziger Freiheit 1
56068 Koblenz
p. 0261-30 40 412

The Ludwig Museum was founded in 1992 and its permanent collection was assembled by the well-known collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig. The collection is mainly post-1945 German and French art with well-known artists represented such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet and American artists, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg.

New Paintings by Susan Swartz

Contemplation Unveiled, 2015, 72 x 72in 

Evolving Visions 3, 2015, 72 x 72in

Evolving Visions 4, 2015, 72 x 72in

Evolving Visions, 2015, 72 x 72in

Landscape of Resonances 011, 2013, 72 x 48in

Modern Renaissance, 2014, 60 x 60in

American Art Collector Artist Focus
Susan Swartz explores the landscape through potent colors and richly layered abstract paintings. With her evocation of coastal splendor and mountain drama, Swartz follows in the tradition of the great German painters such as 19th century Romantic sage Caspar David Friedrich, and 20th century icon Gerhard Richter.

She is inspired by the intersection of art, nature, and spirituality. Swartz’s distinctive style has been recognized with solo exhibitions at the Kollegienkirche in Salzburg, Austria in 2014; the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. in 2011; the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah in 2010; and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2008.

Her works are in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Springville Museum of Art; the Utah Museum of Fine Arts; and the International Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In 2005, Swartz was published in the Gibbs Smith collectors book Painters of the Wasatch Mountains alongside Wasatch Mountain School artists Maynard Dixon, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran.

The same year she was honored by the Harvard Divinity School for a career that continues to blend artistry and faith.

In 2008, she was honored with the Independent Publisher Book Award for her book Natural Revelations.

The underlying energy and tension in Swartz’s work hints of her complex relationship with the natural world. She now works from a place of impassioned reverence for the earth, and of fierce determination to inform and educate.

As Swartz’s relationship with nature has evolved, her painting has progressed from a realist style to an abstract style.

A Personal Path
Swartz’s solo exhibition at the Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, displays more than 70 worksof art revealing the depth of her work and the evolution of her abstract paintings.

Contact Information:

Susan Swartz Studios
PO Box 682053
Park City, UT 84068
p. 435-655-1201


The view from the terrace includes the artful ‘Bay Lights’ on the Bay Bridge. Acacia wood globes from JRM International, San Francisco.


 Thank you, Lisa Romerein, for a fantastic photo shoot.

All photography copyright Lisa Romerein, used here with express permission of the photographer.

1 comment:

peggy braswell said...

love her paintings + stunning.