At first glance, Maison Lune, an art gallery in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, looks exactly like a home. Yes, there are paintings and ceramics on display, but there’s also a bed, a full kitchen, a bathtub. And sometimes you can hear the tumble of laundry.
That’s because it is a home.
In early 2022, when Sandrine Abessera and Lubov Azria moved in, they immediately felt it was a space that needed to be shared.
“We thought it would be very selfish of us to live and exist in such a beautiful space without opening it up to people — artists, innovators, all types,” said Ms. Azria, 55, the former chief creative officer for BCBG Max Azria.
It was also about rethinking the typical art-viewing experience — a departure from the white-cube art gallery, said Ms. Abessera, 45, an artist and designer. “We were drawn to this idea of being an art gallery,” she said, but one “where you can sit and it’s not just a blank box.”
The point, she continued, is “to really experience these works, while having the feeling of being in a home and —”
Completing her sentence, Ms. Azria said, “To really live it.”
Every three months, a new collection of works is exhibited in the three-story home and gallery, a charcoal-colored building that sits next to one of the neighborhood’s canals. The most recent show, which was on display in the airy interior through July 20, featured works by Wes Aderhold, a New York-based painter. The gallery’s first show, which opened earlier this year, was a group exhibit curated by Gaia Jacquet-Matisse, Henri Matisse’s great-great-granddaughter.
But nearly every element in the space is also curated, including the houseplants, linens, rugs, vases, sofas and chairs — not just what’s hanging on the walls.
“You’re essentially going into a collector’s home to be able to place yourself in the position of owning and living with these works,” said Daniel Sierra Domínguez, 28, the curator and director of Maison Lune. “There’s a huge gap in the mind-set of people consuming art; they see it as this esoteric thing that is so beyond reach.”
Nothing here is beyond reach: Visitors can inquire about buying not only the art, but also any of the decorative objects, which are rearranged for each show. The hand-knotted silk rugs by Henzel Studio are inspired by the erosion of organic materials, with holes and uneven lines running through them. The plants are from Plants & Spaces, which specializes in rare plants potted in custom vessels. The gallery is also working on a fragrance to be sold in the form of a candle or incense.
“It’s 360-degree aesthetic consumption: smell, texture, sound, everything,” Mr. Domínguez said, comparing what the gallery is doing to the tradition of French salons, where art was discussed and critiqued in residential settings. (Another comparison that comes to mind: a gallery like The Future Perfect, which sells furnishings out of a townhouse in New York, an apartment in San Francisco and a house in Los Angeles.)
Of course, it isn’t easy to keep a living space pristine enough to exhibit art and design objects there. But it helps that they have no young children, no pets and “someone to help every day of the week,” Ms. Abessera said, with housekeeping.
The two women met while working together at BCBG, the fashion company founded by Ms. Azria’s husband, Max Azria, who died in 2019. Even then, Ms. Azria was known as a generous host.
At their 17-bedroom Holmby Hills mansion, the Azrias held rollicking Shabbat dinners attended by a fashionable crowd of friends and celebrities. “Lubov and Max had hundreds of people coming for Shabbat dinners, strangers they never met,” Ms. Abessera said. “That feeling of completely opening your doors was already very established in Lubov’s house.”
That home, which Ms. Azria still owns, is known as Maison du Soleil. Maison Lune, the two women’s primary residence, is somewhat quieter and calmer. (Thus the reference to the moon — which was also inspired by the round window above the bathtub.)
But they do hold their share of gatherings at the gallery: Recent examples include an evening cocktail hour during the Frieze art fair in February and a beauty master class in May with Tata Harper, the founder of the natural skin-care brand.
Eventually they hope to expand, with similar concept spaces in cities like Paris, Miami or New York. For now, it’s all about Venice, an area long known for attracting artists and other creative residents. That bohemian spirit has been harder to find in recent years, as luxury shops and high-end restaurants have moved in and real estate prices have soared.
Leaning into that history is central to the gallery’s mission, Ms. Azria said. Maison Lune is a space where people “in all different fields” should be able to “share their work and connect,” she said. “That’s what it used to be like in Venice.”
She added: “We haven’t experienced that, but we’ve only been here for a year.”
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