Decades in the Making, a Rotating Show, Highlights The New Hackett Mill Gallery

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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.

Hacket Mill will host an opening reception October 26, 2017 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. Decades in the Making runs from October 26, 2017 to March 29, 2018.

David Park, Untitled, 13.25 x 13.5 in., 1960, goauche on paper

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.

Milton Avery, Women Playing Cards, 26.25 x 32.25 in., 1948, oil on canvas

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.

Richard Diebenkorn, Cigar Box Lid No. 5, 7.5 x 5.5 in., 1979, oil on wood (R); Pierre Soulages, Peinture, 28.75 x 23.75 in, 1974, oil on canvas (L)

Also represented will be Pierre Soulages, the renowned French abstractionist whose outre-noir (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.

Howard Hodgkin, 'Navy Blue', 2002-04 oil on wood, 27 x 31 inches

A limited edition catalogue of Decades in the Making will be available for purchase during the course of the exhibition.

About Hackett Mill’s new location

Hackett Mill makes its new home at 145 Natoma Street in San Francisco. Located next door to the SFMOMA in a building the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic John King calls an “idiosyncratic gem,” the new space abandons the traditional gallery model of separated areas for exhibitions, offices and a back room and is instead boldly and unapologetically open throughout. The way the space embraces and showcases art is more reflective of co-owners Michael Hackett and Francis Mill’s philosophy of living with and experiencing art on a daily basis.

The renovation of the full-floor gallery draws inspiration from design icons including Charles and Ray Eames and Donald Judd and their studio aesthetic of minimalism and efficiency. Mill used his background as an artist and architect to carefully consider and execute each design detail to provide an effective environment in which one can experience and learn about fine art. The challenge of limited space in an urban setting is poetically resolved through design solutions such as moveable walls that blur the lines between public and private space. These shifting architectural components allow for seamless transitions between exhibitions, conversations, research, study and the other myriad of functions of the gallery program. 

In addition to the new Natoma location, Hackett Mill has created a separate atelier to the gallery in a national historic landmark building in the Financial District for special presentations and exhibitions. The atelier allows visitors the experience of viewing artwork curated for and within an intimate space, underscoring Hackett Mill’s philosophical emphasis on living with art

About Hackett Mill

Hackett Mill, founded by Michael Hackett and Francis Mill, presents rare works from the 1950's and 1960's by significant American, European, and Asian artists. The gallery provides a platform for unique juxtapositions between the historical and the contemporary by offering a contextual and scholarly scaffolding to create exciting collections that span movements and eras, united by the universal truth of the artistic struggle. Engaging their passion and deep insight for art and architecture, Hackett and Mill share a genuine and infectious enthusiasm for creating unique and personalized client experiences, imparting erudite and inspirational perspectives for building collections.

Hackett and Mill each bring over thirty years of expertise and education in fine arts. Mill earned a BA in architecture and a BFA and MFA in fine art. Painting since the age of 4 and after college, Mill began exhibiting his work in San Francisco in the 1980s. He began teaching at the age of 24 and was professor and dean of graduate studies at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for ten years, which informs his scholarly approach to building collections.

Michael Hackett also tapped into his passion for art early in childhood; by the 1980s, he knew his role would be found in nurturing artistic talents and has now been dealing and collecting art on an international level for over thirty years. Together Hackett and Mill combine their expertise toward developing meaningful and inspired collections, exhibitions, and lectures and building long lasting relationships with their clients.  

The gallery represents the estates of David Park, Frank Lobdell, Robert Schwartz and the artists David Beck, Masatoyo Kishi, Manuel Neri, Raimonds Staprans and Brian Wall.

Decades in the Making will host an opening reception October 26, 2017 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. The Exhibition runs from October 26, 2017 to March 29, 2018.

145 Natoma Street, San Francisco |


All images courtesy of Hackett Mill



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