New Layout Yields Open Access to Museum Quality Riches
Dealers as Polished and Interesting as Their Wares
But Are the New Rich Up to it?
Decorating your new sky high apartment or brownstone megamansion? However refined your taste in traditional or modern art and furniture, you can confidently send your valet or decorator or consultant over to the renamed Park Avenue Armory Spring Masters Show at Park and 65th Street this weekend (Thu May 1 to Sun May 4).
He or she won’t have any trouble picking out what you need from an exhibition that proves top dealers can still cream the past and present. So distinguished are some of the offerings, in fact, that one worries whether there are enough people among the new global rich who have the background and sensibilities to fully appreciate their worth.
(Note: double click on all photos for mega expansion)
The dealers themselves are highly knowledgeable and often as elegant as their items, too, a good looking breed, some very tall, all with the discreetly informative but sanguine self presentations that suit their role in selling to the top 1%. Often they seem more curators than dealers (“I don’t really like the word ‘dealer’, you know, I would rather be called a ‘retailer’,” offered one), though they say that any collecting instinct they have is strictly restrained in the cause of maintaining turnover.
Hospitable new layout
All of their treasures are accessible in an alluring way in the newly designed space in which the hangar sized Armory is filled with hexagonal booths with offset walls in which right angles are banished except for side booths, and even those have some diagonals.
Instead of long corridors of booths where the contents are mostly unseen by the wandering attendee, you have a giant honeycomb of interlocking spaces where one melds into the next and the contents of many welcome the eye, especially as you walk in the show entrance. There is something extraordinary comfortable and enticing about the imaginative design by architect Rafael Vinoly, and it seems likely that other shows and even museums may take it up.Amid the well dressed crowd at the Wednesday night preview who were constantly served with appropriately exquisite canapes (tiny wraps, Lilliputian Japanese hamburgers) and tasty whisky punch (lime, lemon and orange juices, green tea, mint and prosecco mixed with Angels’ Envy Bourbon) by the caterer, Canard Inc (a name to remember, 212 947-2480), we picked the following prizes (for all 148 photos please go to Photocalendar: Spring Masters Art and Antique Show at ARMORY):
Picks of the showBernard Goldberg‘s $14 million 1960 Rothko (81×69″)in its own little faux chapel can be seen and contemplated without distraction, along with his fine and unusual pair of light green Tiffany Studios lamps from 1910 for $75,000, bracketing an oil painting by Guy Pene Du Bois, ‘Teddy at the Typewriter’, from 1932, $650,000. (212 813 9797 bgfa.com) At Osborne Samuel the very striking oil painted bronze models of pensive, rumpled, rough hewn men, one standing and one on bent knee, two feet high, by Sean Henry, are sensational; also dominant, the 1959 winged figure Stranger VII as well as other bronzes by Lynn Chadwick, and a glowing, bulging bronze, the 1968 “Spindle Piece” by Henry Moore (201-315 4379 cell, osbornesamuel.com) Ronald Phillips at the front of the show dazzles with his immediately visible keynote of the event, the 7 ft 8 in tall, very elegantly brilliant George III chandelier for nearly $1 million over his $900,000 George II gilt mahogany and marble table. (917 355 8609 US cell ronaldphillipsantiques.com) Clinton Howell‘s beautiful George II mahogany oval drop leaf dining table, which matches the warm spirit of the Armory show’s welcoming design, in that it is the only truly friendly dining table shape that allows six or eight people to talk to everybody else with ease beyond either side of their own seat, is $75,000, with a rare quality matching George II set of eight chairs, all with ball and claw feet, interestingly carved: “to have a set with such assured and substantial carving is particularly uncommon”, as the label notes (212 517 5879 clintonhowell.com). Allan Stone and Lesley Hill‘s lively 16C drawings eg Fall of Man by Lucas Van Leyden engraved 1530 in Leiden (nudes! our favorite subject) was $45,000, and a hilariously brilliant Game of Checkers in color from Paris 1792 by Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet outdid Rowlandson at $95,000. Lesley revealed the depth of their working research when she said they moved Hill-Stone from Manhattan to South Dartmouth, Mass. a while ago and were very happy at the change: their 5000 square foot house, 400 yards from the harbor, which replaced a 1500 sq foot apartment, had a little more room for their 357 feet of reference books. (212 249 1397 774 206 1024 hill-stone.com)
A unique modern approach is on show at Carini Lang, just left of Ronald Phillips’ chandelier facing the entrance of the floor. Joseph Carini has translated prime examples of New York City graffiti into high art furnishings by weaving them into wool and silk carpets large and small, which can be either wall hangings or set down on the floor for sumptuously rewarding daily use.
Joe Carini, who had already sold the large face with eye circled in red by the artist Dain for $60,000, said the title of his current show, “Back Against the Wall” was suggested by one of his stable of street artists as the phrase most used by the cops when they pulled up and caught him at work.
Joe started by touring the city on his motorbike and discovered art he valued even inside large abandoned buildings, which were “like the Lascaux caves of New York”, he says, referring to the French site famous for its Paleolithic paintings. After all, “the earliest form of art was on walls.” (646 613 0497 carinilang.com)Literally a showpiece was the Chinese free speech artist Ai Weiwei‘s 2011 construction of a globe of tieli wood Forty Qing Dynasty stools, titled Grapes, calling attention to the Brooklyn Museum‘s partnership in the Spring Masters, and to its April 18 to August 10 exhibition of his work, its first survey in North America, According to What? Undoubtedly Mark Borghi at MBFA had the most upbeat, sunny and colorful works in the form of a glowing Hans Hofmann, Blue Arcata from 1955, for $550,000, and a ravishing Il Dimezzato #7 among a row of great Frank Stella‘s for $145,000 along the wall. Also, a de Kooning for $5 million. And to sit in, some beautifully simple and comfortable rope and mahogany Nakashima chairs, with a table by Anon he found to fit them at auction, which matches perfectly.(212 439 6425 borghi.org)
Talking of exquisitely crafted furniture, this time olde English, Michael Pashby is showing a perfectly proportioned 1770 desk for $40,000 and a corner chair, a burgomaster ie the chair that most perfectly combines solidity and comfort for desk work, for $18,000, from 1725. Sitting in this particular seat, “one of the nicest designs of this style I have seen,” according to Michael, and at this human scale but generous desk, one might write a fine, personal book without the slightest tinge of Internet mania marring its soul. (917-414-1827 michaelpashbyantiques.com)Unable to contain our enthusiasm for these and other fine traditional English pieces that surrounded Pashby, we told him he seemed to us like a conductor of a very fine orchestra. “Oh I like that, I like that!” he said, beaming.
(Click all the photos for supersize expansion. Click this following link for 148 photos at Talk Photocalendar