A Museum Of Her Own

Yvonne Force Villareal and Leo VillaReal
Space 3,300-square-foot loft
Location Tribeca
Lived There Ten months

As an assistant director at the AD Gallery during a John Chamberlain show eight years ago, Yvonne Force decided that a Chamberlain sofa—a great, inviting mass of sculpted foam, canvas, and parachute silk would be hers, eventually. “It’s very emotional,” she explains. “It’s a groovy sensibility—a lot of people can all sit in it together.” So when, in 1997, the director of the gallery called Force to tell her there was another Chamberlain show coming up, she went right over. She got her couch, and she also met Leo Villareal, the artist she would marry two years later. He bought one, too.

These days, Yvonne Force Villareal runs the Art Production Fund out of the Tribeca apartment she shares with Leo and their 13-month-old son, Cuatro. Her mission is to produce art on a grand scale—from Vanessa Beecroft’s rows of nearly naked women at the Guggenheim to Rudolph Stingel’s boldly patterned carpet in Grand Central earlier this year. Right now she’s helping her friend Lisa Yuskavage, the painter, produce shower curtains, and she’s been spending some time in the recording studio with her friend Sandra Hamburg. They are Mother, Inc., and they sing about plastic surgery and dirty diapers. Their album is sponsored by Fendi.

The First Step In Curating:
When the couple moved in, they put much of their collection in storage. “It was really important to me that the art have room to breathe,” Force Villareal says. “I’m not into overhanging.”

How To Paint The Walls:
It helps to have a painter as a consultant. “Alex Katz gave me the colors. He’s painted me, so he knows what looks good with my skin”—like “brownish taupe” in the bedroom.

What To Put Up:
She favors big single pieces over multiple minor ones. Also, “So much of what I’ve put in here are faces, and I really paid attention to the gaze. It’s nice when you’re here alone, because you’re not alone, really.”

What Furniture To Use:
“I love big, bold gestures,” Force Villareal says. Her joint obsession with the seventies and eBay has resulted in a velour Pierre Cardin sectional ($3,000) for the TV area and a 1971 Milo Baughman dining set ($5,500). “I’m totally over the whole Modernist thing. The art is all so supernew that what this house needs is something old. Now I want a big Baroque piece.”

And Baby Furniture?
“Most is so terribly designed, but I saw this incredibly simple crib at Amanda Brooks’s house, and she was like, ‘Ikea. Eighty dollars.’ It’s the Donald Judd of cribs—none of the terrible, mediocre woodwork.” The Stephen Hendee light sculpture doubles as a baby-distracting device.

Can Kids And Fine Art Coexist?
“It’s difficult. We say ‘Art!’ if he touches a painting, and then we say ‘No,’ and then he’ll get a one-minute time-out. We thought about it a lot and decided that we want to continue to live with art, and continue collecting images that aren’t necessarily for a child—some of what we have is a little tough. But we’ve decided that it’s good for a kid to be around it, because it isn’t violence: It’s about violence. He should be contemplative.”

A Museum Of Her Own