Hackett Mill presents Decades in the Making, a group show of seminal artists from the twentieth century. This special exhibition marks the opening of the gallery’s new location adjacent to SFMOMA in San Francisco’s thriving downtown district. Curated by gallery partners Francis Mill and Michael Hackett, Decades in the Making is a retrospective survey of the gallery’s own programming history and brings together masterful artists who each challenged the status quo of the art world in their respective time and place in profound and trailblazing ways. Designed to parallel the Hackett Mill curatorial philosophy of confronting the myth-making of the mid-twentieth century avant-garde, Decades in the Making presents unique and surprising juxtapositions of artworks crossing genres and eras, and a re-examination of how these artists made history by working against trends and staying true to their personal vision—a theme that also defines the gallery’s identity.
Decades in the Making is a rotating show and will bring together many different artists over a period of months so that viewers are offered multiple and evolving perspectives as the exhibition unfolds. The work in the exhibition has been selected from private collections reflecting Hackett’s and Mill’s substantial journey in building important collections over the decades. Notable examples by Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Frank Lobdell, Howard Hodgkin, Hans Hofmann, Conrad Marca-Relli, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, David Park, Pierre Soulages, Manuel Neri, Antoni Tapies and many more will be presented.
Paired together for the first time, David Park and Milton Avery both notably shirked the trend of pure abstraction so central to mid twentieth century art, though they came to this mode of expression in different artistic communities on the two different American coasts. While both painter’s figurative work espoused aspects of the formal language of abstraction, they used figuration as framework to push the possibilities of abstraction’s emotional power forward. As the founder of the Bay Area Figurative movement, Park initiated a historic new direction in painting and what is now considered the region’s most singular contribution to twentieth century American art. Seeing his work in proximity to Avery offers viewers the rare opportunity to see two seminal figures together who profoundly influenced the path of American painting.
Decades in the Making juxtaposes work from Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series with selected works from Howard Hodgkin to examine the concept of a threshold as it relates to formal aspects of painting. Hodgkin who considered himself a realist, was also a supreme colorist interested in capturing specific memories and feelings. Hodgkin paints his frames into the picture plane as a way of “protecting” his memories. Inversely, Diebenkorn was interested in communicating painting’s lack of threshold by emphasizing the flatness of the painting’s surface. In his Ocean Park series, the viewer sees Diebenkorn’s deep interest in process with traces of reworked surfaces and subtle shifts and allusions to marks that were ultimately modified.
Also represented will be Pierre Soulages, the renowned French abstractionist whose outrenoir (beyond black) method characterizes a personal fixation with the color black and its capabilities for and limitations of reflecting light. Soulages’s work is notable for its spontaneous relationship with medium and unconventional use of tools; he works on the floor with wide stiff brushes to maintain grooves and moves paint with rubber and spatulas to elongate curves and shape the painting’s topography. Contrasting a deep relationship with paint, Spanish artist Antoni Tapies used detritus and other non-traditional art material to play with the idea of alchemy. Through a transformation of everyday material into art, Tapies made politically charged work to signify protest of class issues and present a paradox of creation and destruction.
A limited edition catalogue of Decades in the Making will be available for purchase during the course of the exhibition.