"White Cube" no more

The essays in Brian O'Doherty's influential book Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (The Lapis Press, 1986) first appeared in Artforum in 1976. O'Doherty was the first to explicitly confront a particular crisis in postwar art as he sought to examine the assumptions on which the modern commercial and museum gallery was based. One of the assumptions concerned the display of modern art on sterile, white walls of rectangular gallery spaces. It has become so familiar that it is still rarely questioned. Works of art, plucked out of messy studios and cluttered homes, now float against white background, surrounded by ample breathing space and demand singular focus and attention.

Two Bay Area dealers of postwar art defy the convention, mixing modern art with antiques and vintage objects. Artworks are treated as friendly and livable.

Gaetan Caron and Rob Delamater of Lost Art Salon find suitable homes for paintings and works on paper from the estates of lesser known postwar artists by catering to interior decorators. Works are tastefully presented in reconditioned period frames; artists are well researched by a group of graduate student interns; and the artists' heirs are treated with great respect.

Lost Art Salon showroom, San Francisco

Lost Art Salon showroom, San Francisco

Collier Gwin of Foster+Gwin pairs his collection of postwar abstract art and sculpture with high-end European antiques. You will find BayArea Abstract Expressionist paintings next to 17th-century Italian consoles, a Robert Arneson' sculpture next to a French marble tabletop. The effect is unexpected and stunning. Antique furniture and modern art somehow feel more accessible and contemporary.

Foster+Gwin showroom, San Francisco

Foster+Gwin showroom, San Francisco