A Conversation with the Salon Art + Design’s Executive Director Jill Bokor
The Salon Art + Design returns this week for its sixth edition at the Park Avenue Armory, presenting a lively mix of furniture and decorative and fine arts from an international group of exhibitors. In addition to returning galleries, several newcomers will join, including Amy Lau, Chesterfield Gallery, Etage Projects, Daniel Lévy & Associés, and Twenty First Gallery, among others. We spoke with executive director Jill Bokor about what’s new and the fair’s compelling and heterogeneous selection of objects and art.
Nicole Anderson/MODERN MAGAZINE: Salon is right around the corner, what can visitors expect from this year’s edition, and how might it be different from years past?
Jill Bokor: The visitor to this year’s Salon Art + Design can expect to see representation of the past 125 years of international design. The journey starts with the early twentieth century furniture of Josef Hoffman in the booth of Yves Macaux and ends with work commissioned recently for the fair in booths like Sarah Myerscough of London, Etage Projects of Copenhagen, Juan Garrido of Madrid, and Twenty-Twenty First Gallery of New York. The art work that complements all this amazing design is highly curated and visitors will see stunning examples of twentieth century masters from Leger to Kusama to Chamberlain.
MM: Is there anything you’re particularly excited about from this year’s roster of exhibitors?
JB: I was flattered when three years ago, a major design influencer referred to the Salon as “the shopping show.” Here the collector can find everything from historical and contemporary lighting to an ever-widening range of ceramics and glass. I’m always intrigued about the idea of unexpected pairings so I would love to see a collector who is interested in combining a South Arabian 3rd century stele with a Japanese ceramic, and putting both on a highly contemporary console. For these I would point the visitor to Ariadne Galleries—our only booth of classic ancient art; Joan Mirviss with her extraordinary collection of contemporary Japanese ceramics; and Cristina Grajales for an amazing wrought-iron and glass cabinet.
MM: The Salon is unique in its blending of fine and decorative art. Why do you think it is important to create a fair that offers such a vast range of objects and artwork?
JB: Because people live this way! We encourage our exhibitors to create environments, not to simply show objects—because while there can certainly be a lusting after an object of desire, most people look at the pieces they’re buying in a broader context. The history of antiques shows and even some art fairs is that they are very oriented to the individual pieces, but the collectors that we talk to are always about the whole as much as the specific parts. I think it’s a reason that so many designers like to buy at our fair.
MM: The fair not only brings together furniture, decorative arts, and fine art under one roof, it also mixes historic with contemporary. Can you touch upon the thought process behind this?
JB: This also goes to the way people like to create their homes. The Charlotte Perriand bookcase in Magen H gallery can reside in a townhouse or the most contemporary apartment in Chelsea. And, once there, it can work with an incredible piece of contemporary glass from the Chesterfield Gallery. When I first started in the art world, collecting was completely vertical and it was a privilege to see extraordinarily specific collections of seventeenth century Dutch flower paintings or art deco furniture. The wholeheartedness of these collections was astonishing, but I think that’s morphed into something else. Discerning collectors still—and always will—seek quality, but there seems to be a much more open-mindedness about mixing periods and genres. That’s why we love the mix!
MM: How will the fair be organized inside the Armory? How are you maximizing this grand historic structure?
JB: Unlike some of the other fairs that attempt to whiteout the amazing architecture of the Armory, we celebrate it. After all, it’s designers like Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, and the Herter Brothers—designers who played important roles in the building—who are a point of departure for material at the Salon. We also use the historic rooms, exactly as they are, to house our jewelry exhibition, bookstore, and Collectors’ Lounge.