SF 20 – 20th Century Art and Design

Paul Kjaerholm display in entry
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
SF20, the San Francisco 20th Century Art and Design Show, was a big success this year and clearly showed tremendous growth from its inception only a year ago, as both the turnout at the opening night gala and the dealers’ feedback proved.
In the midst of an exciting season for design in San Francisco, with the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, The Millennium’s Icons of Design and the DIFFA’s Dining By Design keeping us all very busy, designer Claudia Juestel was able to take a few moments to give us a detailed tour of this important show.

The brainchild of event planner extraordinaire Stanlee Gatti, who brought all the players together, SF20 provides a critical, and perhaps long overdue, counterpart to the San Francisco Fall Antique Show, by exposing us to very best in modern design.

Allison Speer, Stanlee Gatti and Katie Schwab
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

When back in August I interviewed Zesty Meyers, one of America’s foremost authorities in modern design, he told me that he believed that SF20 has the potential to become as renowned as the San Francisco Fall Antique Show, and that it also gives San Francisco the opportunity to influence the rest of the country. Also Patrick Dragonette of Dragonette called it the premier modernist show on the West Coast. Having seen it for myself, I agree, and so did many of the visitors.

Charles Schwab and Douglas Durkin
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

The opening night gala benefitted the SFMOMA and included many of the same patrons of the Fall Antique Show, plus some fresh young faces. A number of dealers told me that compared to all the shows they participate in across the country this gala had the most elegant guests and by far the best food, thanks to McCall Catering. But of course!

Evan Snyderman of R Gallery talking to Matt Paige about artist David Wiseman
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

Among the fashionable crowd were Helen and Charles Schwab, honorary chair Elaine McKeon, co-chairs Katie Schwab, Allison Speer and Stanlee Gatti, connoisseur co-chairs Heidi and Caley Castelein, Vanessa and Billy Getty, the elegant Karen Caldwell in a tailored Kelly-green dress of her own design, Susie Tompkins Buell, Charles Korrell, the exuberant Daru Kawalkovski, Norah and Norman Stone, the always stunning Elizabeth Touw in teal satin, with husband Paul Touw, Suzanne Levit in a pink and orange coat dress with husband Carson Levit, Maria Manetti Farrow, Marissa Mayer wearing an amazing cascading silver necklace, Blair Wynn, Angelique Griepp and Stephanie Tuttle who shone in satin, Marybeth and Rich LaMotte, Joel Goodrich, Damion Matthews, Ricky Serbin, Jennifer Biederbeck, Kate Harbin, Gretchen and Howard Leach, Daniel Lurie, Lucy Weissman, Kelly Grimes, Michael Polenske, and Randi Fisher. Amongst the young budding collectors were, Orkut Buyukkokten, Derek Holbrook and Katarina Barilov.

Vanessa Getty
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
Jennifer Biederbeck, Neal Benezra, Maria Makela
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
marissa mayer


Marissa Mayer and Blair Wynn
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

And of course the event was not short on talent from the world of art and design, including author Diane Dorrans Saeks who’s fabulous new design blog The Style Saloniste is gaining followers very quickly, sculptor Adam P. Gale, international art advisor Holly Baxter, antique dealers Tod Donobedian and Conor Fennessy, design publicist Suzanna Allen, designer circle chair Douglas Durkin, and interior designers including Orlando Diaz, Steven Volpe, Jay Jeffers, Will Wick, Cecilia Sagrera Hill, George Brazil, Ken Fulk, Brian Dittmar, Kathryn Navarra, and Kendall Wilkinson.

Will Wick on a vintage motorcycle at his Battersea booth
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
Steven Volpe and Zesty Meyers
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
Molie Malone and Benjamin Dhong with William C. Rolf’s book of photos at the Deyrolle museum
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

But let’s not forget what they all came to see. Fifty of the most prominent gallerists from across the United States and Europe showed some of the finest examples of furnishings, art and jewelry, ranging from the early 20th century designs to special creations by contemporary artists, which their dealers described as future collector’s pieces.

Reform Gallery (Los Angeles) greeted visitors front and center with a booth filled with 20th century California designers, including some enormous pieces made from Redwood by J. B. Blunk . Reform Gallery’s owner Gerard O’Brien also shared his excitement about the SFMOMA receiving the important Fisher art collection that same week when Doris and Donald Fisher went into a partnership agreement with the museum to keep the collection comprised of 1,100 contemporary artworks here in the City, elevating San Francisco further as a destination for art.

Reform Gallery
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

Downtown (Los Angeles & New York) composed a special collection of Mexican designers, showing unexpected pieces from the 40s through the 70s combining local techniques with European design. During that time Mexico was a destination for the international jet set, many of who owned a second home in Acapulco.

A collection of paintings by Berkeley artist Ellen Frank, table and chairs by Diego Matthai at Downtown.

This provided a lot of work for local designers and created a modern movement very unique to the region, which resulted in furniture that appeared both familiar yet decidedly modern and unique, an idea that apparently occurred long before Philippe Starck came around.

david serrano

David Serrano of Downtown, dressed for the occasion in vintage garb, quite toned-down from his gold lame suit opening night

A collection of paintings by Berkeley artist Ellen Frank, table and chairs by Diego Matthai at Downtown Dragonette (Los Angeles) brought a true Hollywood collection of furniture and art objects, including a number of pieces Billy Haines designed for the estate of Jack L. Warner in Palm Springs in the 1950s. Much attention got the collection of black and white portraits of Tallulah Bankhead taken by Philippe Halsman around 1955.

Original “Ghost” snail lamp in resin by Tony Duquette, 1960s, Collection of photos of Tallulah Bankhead by Philippe Halsman, 1955, twelve-foot wall-hung console painted in Chinese red, sofa and chair by Billy Hanes, 1950s at Dragonette

R Gallery gave us the opportunity to see in person some of the pieces Zesty mentioned in my interview with him. Apparently I was not the only one who fell in love with David Wiseman’s work, as they sold every piece they brought. His prolificacy is impressive in the choice of materials alone, such as his use of bronze, ceramic, and glass and combinations thereof. The results are functional creations that are organic in contrast to their materials and modern even when taken from traditional inspirations.

Small edition large bronze lattice vase with porcelain bird and blossom by David Wiseman, 2009 at R Gallery

Hedge Gallery (San Francisco) highlighted limited editions of furniture by international contemporary designers.

Hedge Gallery
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
“Crochet” chair made from crocheted fibers and epoxy resin, designed by by Marcel Wanders, 2006

The “Crochet” chair by prolific Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, who most recently designed the Mondrian Hotel South Beach in Miami, combines old-fashioned techniques and design with modern ones.

“Bone” Chair made of molded marble resin, designed by Joris Laarman, 2008

The “Bone” chair by fellow Dutchman Joris Laarman, takes inspiration from the efficient way bones grow, by adding material where strength is needed and taking away material where it’s unnecessary. The chair was designed using a digital tool that copies the process, very 21st century. The “Marble” chair cut from one solid piece of marble by Ai Weiwei pays homage a traditional Ming dynasty chair.

Antik (New York, NY) exhibited works by artists on the forefront of the modernist movement in Scandinavia and the Us, with an emphasis on studio ceramics, Swedish Functionalism, the Danish Cabinetmaker Guild and the American Art Studio Craft.

antik
Display cabinet with Scandinavian studio ceramics at Antik
Daniel Lurie, Kate Harbin and Alec Perkins
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

For those looking for rare design books Bruce Immerton, the Architecture Librarian at the California Polytechnic University in Pomona, brought hard to find books on design and California History.

Susan & Rod Bartha Antiques (Riverwoods, IL) and Maisonry (Napa) showed the rustic more side of modernism. While Maisonry brought skulls, industrial shelves, lamps and tables Susan & Rod Bartha Antiques exhibited a mixture of modern and quasi folk art pieces that cross over into modernism from the 1920s to 1970. Most popular were a set of knock-down dowels from a carnival and nail art.

Maisonry
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
Susan and Rod Bartha Antiques
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
Early 20th century “Nail Art” at Susan & Rod Bartha Antiques

Peter Papp Gallery (San Francisco) was the only rug dealer represented at SF20. Amongst unique 20th century pieces were classic Art Deco and modernist rugs from Sweden, Finland, France, Iran and India.

Unusual late 19th century Anatolian village rug at Peter Pap Gallery
Early 20th Century “Amritsar” silk and cotton rug from India at Peter Pap Gallery

At 20th Century Interiors’ (San Francisco) the most sought after item was a rare Eames screen.

20th Century Interiors
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

Voila Gallery (Los Angeles) combined vintage lighting and furniture with the work of contemporary artists they represent.

“Garments” sewn from printed on transparencies by Gwen Samuels at Voila Gallery
(Photo by William Curtis Rolf)

I got to chat with one of the artists they represented at the show, photographer William Curtis Rolf, whose giant photo of a Polar Bear at the Deyrolle in Paris garnered a lot of attention. During studies at the Sorbonne Willian got permission to come and photograph the exhibitions. Over a five-day period during closing hours he moved the taxidermy animals around so they would appear to be in action, which made them come alive in the photos.

Polar bear at the Deyrolle Museum in Paris at Voila Gallery
(Photo by William Curtis Rolf)

The Silver Fund (San Francisco), also generally at the Fall Antique Show, brought more contemporary pieces with clean paired-down lines aimed to appeal to the younger collectors, including silver by Georg Jensen and Jean E. Puiforcat and 20th century jewelry. My personal favorite was the table with large gold Deco antelope heads as bases.

The Silver Fund
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

Bridges Over Time (Newburgh, NY) had a gorgeous three piece Rosewood, leather and metal set by Danish designer Jens Quistgaard from the 60s, and they sold a number of pieces to a dealers who flew in from LA. I love that they come to San Francisco to shop for good design.

Three-piece set by Jens Quistgaard for Nissen in at Bridges over Time. Photo courtesy of Bridges over Time.

Off The Wall Antiques (Los Angeles) had a fabulous oval table in blue lacquer and chromium-plated tubular chrome Frank Gehry designed for a law firm in LA in 1978. They also displayed a painted chandelier from our own Warfield Theater and an unusual lucite professional Roulette table from the 40s, out of a Bugsy-Siegel-type private casino in Tahoe, which they turned into dining table and married it with Lucite chairs.

Off The Wall Antiques
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

Battersea (San Francisco) who participated the first time wanted to show a little of everything they carry, which included one-off pieces from various time periods paired with contemporary art.

“Palm” chair in Rosewood by Reno Levi, Brazil 1950s, “Brualist Art” brass chandelier, post Curtis Jere, 1970s, “Chimerra” modernist lamp by Vico Magistretti, 1970s, early 20th century wallpaper cart with contemporary shelving, “Eye” polished bronze sculpture by Adam P. Gale, 1998, at Battersea.

Betsy Linder and Karen Caldwell
(Photo by Drew Altizer)

But selections were not only for the home. A number of prominent jewelry dealers and San Francisco’s own vintage couture store Torso Vintages showed another part of the modernist lifestyle, wearable design. Among others Torso brought clothing and jewelry by Chanel, Arnold Scasi, Madame Gres, Gianfranco Ferre and James Galanos from the 60s through the 80s. A lemon yellow and silver Oscar de la Renta dress in particular caught my eye.

Barbara Brown “trying on” a gown at Torso
(Photo by Drew Altizer)
60′s gown by Oscar de la Renta at Torso Vintages
Torso’s John Hadeed with Gina Pell admiring a vintage necklace

Dragonette did not only bring furniture, they also showed some amazing bold jewelry. I was surprised when Patrick Dragonette told me that Rachel Zoe has not found them yet. She would have gone “Bananas” for that Chanel key bracelet!

Jewelry displays at Dragonette

Highlights at Craig Evan Small Estate Jewelry (Los Angeles) were a fabulous Cartier lapis and gold watch from the 1960s and an obscenely large aquamarine ring from the 1950s.

Aqumarine ring at Craig Evan Small Estate Jewelry

Last but not least, at the end of my rounds I came across Nexxt20 (New York State) who teamed up with contemporary jewelry designer Marilyn F. Cooperman (New York, NY), showing both vintage jewelry and Marilyn’s stunning designs. She worked with Fred Leighton for many years, and to my surprise she is another secret Rachel Zoe apparently has not discovered yet. For anyone who has read this far, there was not a piece I would not want for Christmas.

“The Horn” earrings in 18k gold or patinated silver with sapphires by Marilyn F. Cooperman
(Photo courtesy of Marilyn F. Cooperman)
“Crater” bracelet in 18k gold with natural Keshi pearl and light sherry colored diamonds by Marilyn F. Cooperman
(Photo courtesy of Marilyn F. Cooperman)