With a travertine recliner, bulbous wool love-seats, and a sinuous blue mirror named Mr. Judgy, the design show “Enthroned” explores the various forms and modalities of the feminine. Jessica Silverman, of the eponymous San Francisco gallery, has teamed up with Friedman Benda’s Marc Benda to co-curate the exhibit. Placed on their rightful pedestal, the pieces in the exhibition, which challenge the dominant tropes of hyper-minimalism, are drawn from ten contemporary female designers. “Marc represents a lot of women,” Silverman shared with Art & Object. “That’s not always the case.”
Silverman and her wife, writer and sociologist Sarah Thornton, are personal collectors of woman-made art and design objects, filling their “over-the-top” home with color. Judy Chicago’s painting Study for Pasadena Lifesavers Yellow #3, hangs in the gallerist’s home. “Every morning, when I wake up and walk into my living room, this beautiful drawing by Judy greets me,” she told Art Basel a few years back. Today, in reference to her own white-cube gallery space, Silverman told us that art can look great in both places. "Architecture is an important thing to enjoy, but to have it disappear is a hard thing to do. Some things can confuse sensitive gestures.”
The pieces in the exhibition not only partake in a dialogue with function, but contrast with one another along a spectrum of the sculptural. "Enthroned" features pieces like Lara Bohinc’s Derriere Chair (2023) along with pieces from Najla El Zein’s Seduction series (2018). Bohinc, who was inspired by mid-century Italian upholstery, transitioned into the world of furniture after a decade of design consulting for Cartier. El Zein takes a more sleek approach, frequently using Italian limestone as her choice of material. In 2022, the Qatar Museum commissioned two public works by El Zein, one of which, Us, Her, Him, features a winding cylindrical bench over 1,000 feet long, and represents human connection.