The Margaritaville of Modernism
|Chair: Miguel Arroyo, Pampatar Butaca Prototype, 1953. Courtesy Carlos J. Acosta|
Painting: Alejandro Otero, Pampatar Board, 1953. Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Margarita Island is a slice of Jimmy Buffett escapism off Venezuela's Caribbean coast. In 1952 it became the adopted home of photographer and art historian Alfredo Boulton and wife Yolando Delgado Lairet. They purchased a colonial home in the oceanfront town of Pampatar and transformed it into a showplace of modern art and design.
Through Jan. 7, 2024, the Getty Research Institute is surveying Boulton's influential career(s) in "Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela (1928–1978)." Three key objects from Casa Boulton are on loan, each commissioned by Boulton for the space. They include a 1953 mahogany armchair by Venezuelan designer Miguel Arroyo, conceived as a sleek update of the colonial butaque, and a 1954 abstract painting by Alejandro Otero. The vertical-format painting, Pampatar Board, uses the three primary colors of the Venezuelan flag. Its surfboard gloss seems to anticipate L.A.'s Finish Fetish.
|Mural of 1950s Fotografía Maxim photo of Casa Boulton|
Otero's primary colors echoed those of the room's Alexander Calder mobile, Double Gong (1953). It now has a California connection, as it's part of the Fisher collection on long-term loan to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Getty has hung the mobile high overhead, in the Research Institute's entrance lobby. (Look up when you enter; it's easy to miss.)
Margarita Island was named for pearl divers, not a cocktail. There was apparently no shortage of alcohol at Casa Boulton, however, as the Boultons published a Drinks and Dishes of the House recipe book for guests.
|Alexander Calder, Double Gong, 1953. Doris and Donald Fisher collection, on loan to SFMOMA.. © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York|