While in San Francisco, I was able to spend some time in what is the Holy Grail of art galleries for me, Modernism. This is a gallery that sings its own song, plays by its own rules. They have one of the strongest visions of any gallery in the States.
That vision might not be for everyone. After all, it’s not called Modernism for nothing. But I am trying to think of even one show I did not like in the 28 years I’ve been going to this gallery. Can’t think of one.
And again, when I was there for their last opening, there wasn’t one work I didn’t like. They had three rooms filled with art: a solo show by Mark Stock, a group show of West Coast Abstraction and then a back room filled with high-end glories like a painting by Mel Ramos.
When I visited San Francisco in 1980 to check out the Goodman Building, which would house my first solo show, I came across a poster on Market Street: Modernism Presents the Russian Avant Garde. Wherever I was going, I forgot. I made a u-turn and found what would become my holy grail.
It’s rare to find a gallery which gives a home to both history and contemporary art, and does it so flawlessly. They’ve shown Hannah Hoch and R. Crumb, Kasmir Malevich and John Register. Plus they make the best catalogues I’ve ever seen: Martin Muller personally loaded me up with enough art propaganda to lust over for several months of late night reading.
A few years ago he also opened Modernism West, an exhibition space located within Foreign Cinema in the Mission. I checked out that space too – once again, a couple of rows of drop-dead gorgeous works - not one weak placement. It was like bang, bang, bang. The minds reels at the possibilities.