Press Release

Berggruen Gallery to Usher in Next Phase with Opening of New Space on January 13, 2017

San Francisco, CA

Inaugural Exhibition “The Human Form” To Explore the Role of the Figure in Modern and Contemporary Art 

Berggruen Gallery today announced it will open its new gallery at 10 Hawthorne Street, across from the recently expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on January 13, 2017. A cornerstone of the West Coast art world, Berggruen Gallery—owned by Gretchen and John Berggruen—has a consistent history of engaging San Francisco audiences with new art, and has long been an advocate for the region’s leading artists. Housed in an historic three-story building, the new gallery will feature expanded exhibition space, including two floors of galleries and a floor dedicated to project and event space.

For its inaugural exhibition, Berggruen Gallery will present The Human Form, a sweeping exploration of the human figure from the early 20th century to today. The show brings together works by modern masters such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud; as well as contemporary artists Gerhard Richter, Cecily Brown, George Condo, Kiki Smith, Antony Gormley, Jenny Saville, and Kehinde Wiley. The Human Form presents an exploration of one of art history's oldest surviving themes. Across cultures, time, and stylistic genres, artists have grappled with how to depict the human figure—from its physical appearance to the emotional, mental, and intellectual personalities of its subjects. In a variety of media, The Human Form reveals the diversity of approaches to representing the body, from the representational to the abstract. The exhibition will juxtapose works by an array of artists from different decades and stylistic genres, which underscores the gallery’s focus on creating a dialogue between modern masters and contemporary artists working today. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an introductory essay by curator and scholar Steven A. Nash, the founding director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, former chief curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and, most recently, director of the Palm Springs Art Museum.

In its new incarnation, Berggruen Gallery plans to organize exhibitions by major contemporary artists, including Stanley Whitney, Christopher Brown, Tom Sachs, Alicia McCarthy, David Bates, Diana Al-Hadid, Spencer Finch, Sarah Morris, and Lucy Williams. In addition, the gallery will continue its history of mounting major historical exhibitions.

“The opening of our new gallery represents the next phase in our role of being a catalyst within the Bay Area and the California arts ecology,” said John Berggruen. “Our gallery will offer artists a larger and more fluid space in which to exhibit their work, enhancing our role in bringing innovative exhibitions and introducing new artists to San Francisco. Being at the center of the arts district and adjacent to SFMOMA will enable us to foster meaningful interplay between the art we and our neighbors present.”

The 10,000-square-foot gallery has been conceived to provide the optimal experience for viewing art. Designed by San Francisco-based firm Jennifer Weiss Architecture, the project includes a full renovation of the building that will preserve the historic elements of the building’s façade, coupled with a welcoming contemporary interior. Breaking out of the “white cube” model, the interior architecture is dynamic—providing a variety of environments in which to view art, ranging from intimate to grand—while remaining deferential to the art itself. The three floors of the gallery are connected by a grand, open stair, linking the exhibition spaces and installation and event spaces.  Located in a burgeoning neighborhood for the arts, Berggruen Gallery will be the newest cultural addition to the neighborhood, which includes the expanded SFMOMA, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Crown Point Press, Gagosian Gallery, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Museum of the African Diaspora.

“The new gallery represents the reaffirmation—and extension—of our commitment to offering viewers, collectors, and the community the visual and educational opportunities that help develop knowledge, while providing the pure pleasure of engagement with art, artists, and ideas,” said Gretchen Berggruen. “We have methodically built a talented team of individuals to help us realize our expanded vision and program, including the appointment of gallery president, Sarah Wendell."

John Berggruen first opened his pioneering gallery in the spring of 1970 on Grant Avenue in downtown San Francisco with a series of prints on consignment from his father, Heinz Berggruen, a renowned German art dealer whose eponymous gallery was located on the Left Bank in Paris. After two years in business, John moved his gallery across the street to 228 Grant Avenue, the space it occupied for 44 years.

The Berggruens have developed and fostered relationships with local, national, and international artists, mounting the first or early shows of many artists who are now well-established in their careers—including Ed Ruscha, Kiki Smith, Tom Sachs, Lorna Simpson, Barry McGee, and Mark Tansey—and publicly introducing world-renowned art to San Francisco. The gallery was instrumental in creating the market for Wayne Thiebaud and artists of the Bay Area Figurative school, including Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, and Nathan Oliveira, and played a fundamental role in cultivating a group of dedicated collectors in the Bay Area. Over the past five decades, Berggruen Gallery has placed significant works of art in private collections and public institutions, including SFMOMA, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

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George Condo. Abstracted Figures. 2011. Acrylic, charcoal and pastel on linen. 68 x 66 in. Courtesy Berggruen Gallery.

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