Monday, March 27, 2017

Chasing Chatsworth: This Week, All About ‘House Style’, the Exciting Book Newly Published by Skira/Rizzoli

It’s the richly illustrated 212-page catalog for ‘House Style’ Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth’ the big summer exhibit that opens this week.

For Duchess of Devonshire fans (and fans of the Mitford and Cavendish families) this witty and very insider book follows the heirs of the dukedom for five centuries. And it’s chic and a bit eccentric, just like the entire family tree.

Over eight chapters, with an introduction by Stoker Devonshire, the current duke, there are also pages of family photos, a close-up of the ‘Mitford Style’, along with ballgowns, Hubert de Givenchy, the duke’s slippers and pajamas, and the extraordinary Palladio-influenced interiors and baroque paintings as background.

The show and book underscore the subversive Cavendish understatement mixed with grandeur.

As this witty new fashion exhibit opens at the great Derbyshire house, I’ll also take you on a detour to my library, dishing with Deborah Devonshire and her remarkable books. Pour a glass of claret and join me.

‘House Style’ is newly published by Skira/Rizzoli.

Laura Burlington, wife of the heir of the Duke of Devonshire, persuaded Hamish Bowles to put this fascinating show and volume together. The great Patrick Kinmonth is the curator and designer of the show, which includes staff livery, centuries of christening gowns, Andrew Grima jewels from the seventies, along with couture gowns and wedding gowns, and a splash of current fashions.

Chatsworth has been home to the Cavendish family and the hereditary dukes of Devonshire since the original Elizabethan house was built on the site purchased by Sir William Cavendish in 1549. It’s renowned for its fashionable history—and its couture and tiaras, magnificent lace and splendid livery, and its unrivaled collection of art, palatial gardens, and celebrated family dynasty,

Gucci is a sponsor of the show. Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele is an obsessed anglophile, and he of course swooned of Chatworth (used as background for recent Gucci ads).

This is Chatsworth’s most ambitious exhibition to date. It explores the history of fashion and adornment at Chatsworth, and brings to life individuals from the Cavendish family, including Bess of Hardwick, one of the most powerful women of the 16 th century. There’s also “Empress of Fashion” Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Adele Astaire, the sister and dance partner of Fred Astaire. Nancy Mitford, model Stella Tennant and John F Kennedy’s sister ‘Kick’ Kennedy are central to the show.

The exhibition runs at Chatsworth from 25 March to 22 October 2017.

Chatsworth and Debo

I’ve been a bit obsessed with the art treasures of Chatsworth, as well as the landscape and gardens, its collection of Lucian Freud portraits, the decorating (very classic grand English country house and highly influential). 

I’ve long been an admirer of the droll Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, for many years. Count me among thousands of Debo fans, who include photographer Bruce Weber and Anna Wintour, Lucian Freud, the Queen, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Nicholas Haslam and many stars and artists and authors too fabulous to mention. Whippet-thin model Stella Tennant, a favorite of Karl Lagerfeld’s, is Debo’s granddaughter.

The Divine Debo In My Library
The antics and adventures and books and eccentricities of the Mitford sisters (including Nancy) have been in my focus since ‘Hons and Rebels’ was published some years ago. I have a first edition. It details the Mitford sisters’ childhood and family. Witty.

There have been many books written about and by Deborah Devonshire, including collections of her letters, a biography, and a collaboration with her dear (and dearly departed) author friend Patrick Leigh Fermor.

I’ve been fortunate to collect signed copies, including one signed by both Debo and Paddy.

When I met Debo in London, where she signed my book. I mentioned to her that I also had a copy of ‘The Duchess of Devonshire’s Chatsworth Cookery Book’ even though I don’t cook.

“That makes two of us,” she chortled. ‘I have not cooked for over fifty years.”

The duchess then confided that when her cookery book was in production, one of her longtime housekeepers happened to see the cover. ‘Isn’t that a bit like a blind man teaching someone to drive,” she said to Debo.

A Gathering of Talent

‘House Style’ Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth, by Laura Burlington and Hamish Bowles, published by Skira/ Rizzoli. 

Foreword by the Duke of Devonshire, Edited by Hamish Bowles, Texts by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Charlotte Mosley, Sarah Mower, Diana Scarisbrick and Sophia Topley. Introduction by the Countess of Burlington.

Where to Buy Books About Chatsworth and the Devonshires 

An excellent source for all books about Chatsworth and the Cavendish and Devonshire families is Heywood Hill bookshop in London.

It is owned by the Duke of Devonshire. Brown-paper wrapped books for him, awaiting pickup, are stacked on shelves in the storage cupboard.

When you acquire ‘Home Style’ from Heywood Hill, I propose that you ask if your copy could be signed by Laura Burlington and Hamish Bowles. The book is recently published and no doubt there are booksignings planned. While Burlington and Bowles are caught up in opening celebrations of fashion presentations at Chatsworth, it is logical to imagine that they will stop in at Heywood Hill to sign some copies of heir book. I hope so. Good luck with that.

Heywood Hill, one of my frequent stops when I’m in London, is also the perfect source for books on the English nobility, English history, and quirky biographies. or Heywood Hill, 10 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London.

Quick note:  I’ve written about The Beaumont hotel, also situated in Mayfair, a five-minute walk from Heywood Hill.

Noted restaurateur/ hotelier Jeremy King, a partner in The Beaumont, is a bibliophile, and he treats guests at the hotel with libraries and shelves stocked with London/English history/biographical books from Heywood Hill, for their enjoyment during their stay. A fantastic perquisite, thank you, Jeremy.

Images of books by and about Deborah Devonshire by Diane Dorrans Saeks, March 26, 2017.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrating the Great Gary Hutton

The multi-talented San Francisco interior designer and furniture designer seems in mid-career, after four decades in the hurly-burly of design, interiors, chairs, tables and a new book. He started in the late seventies.

Many studios and ateliers and clients and triumphs and challenges later, he is better than ever. Come with me for a very affectionate visit with Gary, to analyze his décor, his style, his insights, his furniture and longevity.

Bravo, Gary. There is much to celebrate, and much to admire. The new book is vivid and popular. It celebrates the interiors created for Chara Shreyer over the last forty years. All great. New clients are knocking on the door. 

Gary Hutton, based in California, has enjoyed a grand career. What’s notable—other than his good humor, brilliant mind and superb designs—is the consistency of his work, his aesthetic.

Consistency is a wonderful thing in a designer. Gary, has been unswervingly loyal to modernism. He’s loyal to his friends. He has worked closely for many years with the great Tom Bonauro on graphics, and the great Scott Frankum for website concepts and design. He has allied himself closely with top upholsterers and craftsmen and teams of talent.

Modernism is Gary’s lifelong focus, so his success is particularly sweet. As the great modernist, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy noted to me some years ago, “San Francisco does not like modernism or modern interiors, and prefers traditional’, but both designers have had long and acclaimed careers, nonetheless. And San Francisco now embraces modern décor.

Come with me to take a closer look at Gary’s best interiors—as well as his book, his ideas, and his furniture.

Devotion to Design

Gary Hutton’s clients include some of the country’s foremost art collectors, entrepreneurs, and executives.

“I’m always interested in quiet luxury and the inventive use of materials,” said Hutton. ‘Practicality is important and essential to all decor. It is not enough to create a space or design a table. They must be beautiful and functional. There must be an understanding of how a space or item will be used. Particular attention is focused on comfort.”

Assouline’s recent publication of ‘Art House The Collaboration of Chara Schreyer and Gary Hutton’ written with Alisa Carroll, celebrates and distills his design philosophy of restraint.

“Looking back on my forty-year career, I am gratified and humbled by both my successes and failures. The audacity of my youth early on brought me much critical acclaim and to the attention of my client Chara Schreyer over three decades ago. We have created many wonderful things together, not the least of which is our new book ‘Art House’.” — Gary Hutton, recently, at his San Francisco studio

A Chat with Gary Hutton

Recently I had a lively interview with Gary, reviewing his career, his favorite paints, his inspirations, and his advice to young designers.

TSS: How did you get started as a designer? You are a third-generation Californian.
I grew up near Watsonville, surrounded by my grandparents’ fruit orchards. I moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the design program at California College of the Arts. As a student I undertook an apprenticeship at Gump’s. I was put in charge of a restaurant project overlooking Union Square. The restaurant, Todays, was a hit, and it launched my design career

TSS: Throughout your career, with trends coming a disappearing, you have remained a modernist.
It is important to live in the present and to take advantage of all of the benefits that our place in time allows us. We live in such an extraordinary era with technical knowledge expanding exponentially that we should strive to use that and move forward. I have a great respect for design history. Our modernist heritage is firmly rooted in the 18th century and the age of enlightenment. I look at antiques as markers on the path to the present, beautiful things that were the avant-garde of their time. 

TSS: Which design movement inspired you most?
I love all periods of design for very different reasons. French and Italian design of the thirties and forties is my current favorite. It was a time of modernist exploration. Serious designers were working hard to come up with something new that still paid tribute to the past in some way. Jean-Michel Frank is a standout but there are many others that are just now being rediscovered. Serge Roche has captured my interest lately. His work is quirky, highly individual, and totally unique.

TSS: Who is your favorite designer?

GH: Every designer brings something unique to the table, and maybe even designs the table! Styles really don’t have much to do with the designers I admire. Vision and point of view are what turns me on and those could be as diverse as the elegance of the late French designer/antiquaire Henri Samuel, as well as John Dickinson, who worked in San Francisco in the seventies. His attention to detail was legendary. What matters is the quality of the work not the style of the work. 

TSS: You are a connoisseur of the many shades of white. The most versatile paint colors?

GH: Benjamin Moore “Feather Down’ OC-6 is a favorite of mine. It is a really elegant off-white with a touch of taupe but still quite warm. It makes a great foil for other brighter colors in textiles, and created a warm and inviting envelope.

Frazee “Estate Grey” is another pick. It’s a beautiful warm grey that has a touch of brown and red in it so that at different times of the day it takes on very different characteristics.

I’m a big fan of neutrals. Bright colors are not my thing. I love the subtlety of them and Benjamin Moore “Nantucket Gray” HC-111 is a gorgeous grey/green that makes every skin tone look vibrant. People look wonderful in a room of that color. It’s rather moody and a bit dark.

Benjamin Moore “Kansas Grain” 2160-60 is a beautiful complex golden yellow. It makes a room sunny without it being relentlessly cheerful.

TSS: What do you love most about being a designer?
There is nothing more exciting than seeing a project completed. Most of our projects and planning and designs take a year and a half or more, so there is a significant investment of time and emotion in each one. The exhilaration on that final day of installation is the most exciting.

TSS: What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
Pay attention! Pay attention to everything. Learn as much as you can about design history and the architecture greats that went before us and why they were great. It will broaden your world and add depth to your interiors.

TSS: Where are you traveling for design inspiration next?
Los Angeles. I love LA. The art and culture scenes are incredibly vibrant. There is more visual stimulation than any one person can handle. It is a great modern American city with all its chaos, new ideas, and beauty.

I am looking forward to traveling to promote my book. Currently we have book events scheduled in Basel, New York and Chicago. I love to meet art collectors and I love talking about design. Design is my obsession.

DDS: Thank you, Gary. I wish you many more years of happiness, success, and great clients and design.


Gary Hutton Design

All photography courtesy of Gary Hutton Design, used here with express permission.

‘Art House, The Collaboration of Chara Schreyer and Gary Hutton’ written with Alisa Carroll’ is published by Assouline. Purchase it from independent bookstores or from Assouline,

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bravo, SFMOMA! Exciting Art News: Matisse/Diebenkorn Exhibit — March 11 through May 29 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

This surprising and dramatic new show organized by SFMOMA and the Baltimore Museum of Art is visually thrilling and a lovely jolt to the brain and eyes.

Matisse/Diebenkorn reveals insights into two great artists—and presents a lively revelation into concepts of inspiration, experimentation, emotional engagement, ideas, homage, and idealization in art.

Henri Matisse, Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat), 1905; oil on canvas; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Elise S. Haas; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Richard Diebenkorn, Urbana #5 (Beach Town), 1953; oil on canvas; collection of Joann K. Phillips; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Great new show. Two exciting artists.

I love Henri Matisse. I love the sensuality of his colors. I love the way he romances interiors, and heightens rooms and people with vivid color.

And I love the rigor and romance and intelligence of Richard Diebenkorn’s paintings.

Matisse is one of my favorite painters.

Last January in Paris I spent two days (until closing time) in a dramatic gallery full of his best paintings. The Shchukin Collection, at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, is chockablock with Matisse and Gauguin and Picasso canvases. I had seen some of these paintings inin Russian museums. They had never been shown outside Russia.

To stand in the large gallery surrounded by Matisse’s studio paintings, his vivid interiors, his portraits from Morocco, and his experimentation with color and light was emotional, exhilarating. It was the art experience of a lifetime. Beauty! I was overcome. I had tears in my eyes looking at Matisse’s paintings. Surrounded by his early twentieth-century masterpieces, I was crying.

Henri Matisse, The Blue Window, 1913; oil on canvas; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Henri Matisse, Notre Dame, A Late Afternoon, 1902; oil on paper mounted on canvas; Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Russian collector Sergei Shchukin was Matisse’s great Moscow patron around 1904--1912. And with Shchukin’s devoted patronage, Matisse soared to heights of experimentation, emotional engagement, and expression.

Imagine. At the Paris exhibition, I was in a fever dream of Matisse.

On my return to San Francisco, I learned about the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at SFMOMA.

So now…more delirium. The Matisse paintings selected for this show from collections around the world, are emotionally captivating. I’ve enjoyed a preview.

Matisse said (or was it a detractor?) that his paintings were ‘like a comfortable armchair’.

Are they intellectually stimulating? That’s up to you.

Watch Matisse experimenting with paint. Catch his engagement with everyday objects. Was he a provocateur? I’d say he was not. Russian revolutionaries found him decadent and provocative. 

Henri Matisse, Goldfish and Palette, 1914; oil on canvas; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift and bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Henri Matisse, View of Notre Dame, 1914; oil on canvas; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired though the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest and the Henry Ittleson, A. Conger Goodyear, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sinclair Funds, and the Anna Erickson Levene Bequest given in memory of her husband, Dr. Phoebus Aaron Theodor Levene; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

SFMOMA is showing a superb group of Matisse paintings. This show reveals Matisse with his bold palette and shape-shifting compositions, painting in Paris, painting in Moscow.

This show reveals that Matisse was the formative inspiration for California painter, Richard Diebenkorn, who was one of the greatest California landscape/seascape and abstract artists. In one Diebenkorn's masterworks, ‘Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad’ the artist pays direct homage to Matisse, capturing a fragment of floral textile (a Matisse favorite) juxtaposed in a sunlit California landscape.

Henri Matisse, Studio, Quai Saint-Michel, 1916; oil on canvas; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Henri Matisse, Interior at Nice, 1919; oil on canvas; the Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Co-curated by Bishop and Katy Rothkopf, BMA Senior Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Matisse/Diebenkorn follows the trajectory of Diebenkorn’s career, illuminating this influence evolving over time through different pairings and groupings of both artists’ work. A selection of Matisse books from Diebenkorn’s personal library is included in the exhibition.

“Matisse/Diebenkorn is an incredible story of artistic inspiration, revealing how Diebenkorn’s enduring fascination with Matisse informed his own body of work in substantive and often surprising ways. The exhibition casts new light on two artists represented in depth in SFMOMA’s holdings, and several of the Matisse paintings now in our collection were among the first paintings by the French artist that Diebenkorn saw.” — curator Janet Bishop

A Close Inspiration: Stylistic Affinities

Although they never met, both artists have a longstanding history in the Bay Area and deep connections to SFMOMA. Matisse’s expressive paintings were first introduced to San Francisco shortly after the 1906 earthquake, shocking the arts community with their startling colors and brushwork. The French artist made one visit to San Francisco, in 1930, and his very first West Coast survey was held at SFMOMA in 1936, a year after the museum was founded. Matisse’s work—specifically Woman with a Hat (1905), on view in the exhibition—has become a historical anchor of SFMOMA’s painting and sculpture collection. 

Richard Diebenkorn, Urbana #6, 1953; oil on canvas; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, museum purchase, Sid W. Richardson Foundation Endowment Fund; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Richard Diebenkorn, Ingleside, 1963; oil on canvas; Grand Rapids Art Museum, museum purchase; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1964; graphite and ink on paper; Collection of Leslie A. Feely, New York; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Richard Diebenkorn, Seated Woman, 1967; oil on canvas; collection of Gretchen and John Berggruen, San Francisco; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Inside the Mind of Diebenkorn

As a Stanford University art student in 1943, Diebenkorn first saw the work of Matisse at the Palo Alto home of Sarah Stein (sister-in-law of Gertrude), one of the French painter’s earliest champions.

When he was stationed with the Marines on the East Coast in 1944, he studied great works by Matisse in museums including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The National Gallery of Art and The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., where he made repeat visits to see Matisse’s Studio, Quai Saint-Michel (1916).

Diebenkorn’s first truly immersive experience of Matisse’s work occurred in Los Angeles in 1952, when he encountered Matisse paintings including Goldfish and Palette (1914) and Interior at Nice (1919 or 1920) in a traveling retrospective. Shortly after seeing this exhibition—a decade since his first experience of Matisse’s work—Diebenkorn began to incorporate elements of the French painter’s approach to painting into his own compositions, which is reflected in the brighter palette and new interest in structure.

Richard Diebenkorn, Seated Figure with Hat, 1967; oil on canvas; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., gift of the Collectors Committee and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Rubin; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Richard Diebenkorn, Window, 1967; oil on canvas; Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Diebenkorn and anonymous donors; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975; oil on canvas; Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and with funds contributed by private donors; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

Richard Diebenkorn, Woman on a Porch, 1958; oil on canvas; New Orleans Museum of Art, museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts Matching Grant; © the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation 

All About Diebenkorn and His Obsession with Matisse

“Diebenkorn’s first in-depth exposure to the work of Henri Matisse happened in the summer of 1952, when he saw the retrospective exhibition organized by Alfred Barr for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in its venue at the Municipal Art Galleries in Los Angeles. In the fall of that year, he moved with his family to Urbana, Illinois, having accepted a teaching position at the University of Illinois. The work made at that time, known as the “Urbana period,” is characterized by a continuation of his subtle abstract/calligraphic style, but with a richer, more intense palette.” — from ‘Matisse/Diebenkorn’ catalog

If you can’t see the show for the moment, definitely collect the catalog. It is one of the best I’ve seen, and superbly designed and intelligently presented.

It presents the concepts of the show very fully—and artfully shows the Matisse paintings alongside the Diebenkorn homage paintings.

The text is compulsively readable…revealing the first sightings of Matisse in Palo Alto and New York…and later an incredibly fortunate trip to Russia on a cultural exchange.

There in Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Diebenkorn avidly visited the best of the best of Matisse paintings from the early 1900s. Many of the paintings that engaged him are now on view in Paris (their first viewing outside Russia) at the Louis Vuitton Foundation exhibit of the Shchukin collection.

Chapters in the catalog, which is edited by Janet Bishop and Katherine Rothkopf, include sections on how Matisse and Diebenkorn ‘broke the rules’ and on their abstract explorations. It also takes readers into Diebenkorn’s library and his bibliography of Matisse publications that he used as references. Fascinating and illuminating.

Highly recommended.

Exhibition Organization

Matisse/Diebenkorn is co-organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Baltimore Museum of Art.

The exhibition is curated by Janet Bishop, Thomas Weisel Family Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA, and Katy Rothkopf, Senior Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at The BMA.

All images of paintings and the catalog used here with permission via SFMOMA.

SFMOMA: Details

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 

Snøhetta expansion of the new SFMOMA, 2016; photo: © Henrik Kam, courtesy SFMOMA

SFMOMA is dedicated to making the art for our time a vital and meaningful part of public life. Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art.

SFMOMA opened a new Snøhetta-designed expansion on May 14, 2016. New entrances and public spaces connect SFMOMA to the city as never before, while the art- filled ground floor is open to all, free of charge.

The new SFMOMA, view from Yerba Buena Gardens; photo: © Henrik Kam, courtesy SFMOMA 

The transformed museum, which incorporates the renovated Mario Botta building, triples the current exhibition space from 70,000 to 170,000 square feet. This additional gallery space enables the museum to display much more of its outstanding and rapidly growing collection. Highlights of the project include The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection — with an inaugural presentation of nearly 260 postwar and contemporary artworks by the most well-known artists of our time in dedicated galleries.

The Fisher Collection includes important works by: 
· Georg Baselitz
· Alexander Calder
· Chuck Close
· Ellsworth Kelly
· William Kentridge
· Anselm Kiefer
· Roy Lichtenstein
· Agnes Martin
· Joan Mitchell
· Gerhard Richter · Richard Serra
· Cy Twombly
· Andy Warhol 

Approaching American Abstraction: The Fisher Collection exhibition; photo: © Iwan Baan, courtesy SFMOMA 

Roberts Family Gallery featuring Richard Serra’s Sequence (2006) at SFMOMA; photo: © Henrik Kam, courtesy SFMOMA 

Group and private visits:Private guided tours for Matisse/Diebenkorn:

Tours booked at least two weeks in advance. For more information:

Check or call 415.357.4000 for more information.