Fall 2011 News & Notes
Westward Ho! East Coast design galleries are apparently setting their sights on the West Coast collecting community. Earlier this year the Manhattan-based firm Johnson Trading Gallery took a space in the Hollywood design gallery J.F. Chen. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C.-based Industry Gallery has opened a showroom in Los Angeles’s Pacific Design Center. The gallery’s owner, Craig Appelbaum, who deals exclusively in contemporary work, recently inaugurated his new site with an exhibit of new work from Dutch designers such as Tejo Remy. Another prominent New York gallery—whose owners prefer not to have their firm identified at this point—is hunting for an outpost in L.A.
For several years Patrick Perrin and Stéphane Custot, the dealer-impresarios behind the much-admired Pavilion of Art & Design fairs in Paris and London (the 2011 edition of the latter opens October 12) have champed at the bit to hold a show in New York City. “It’s the main destination worldwide for collectors and dealers alike,” Perrin says.
Their efforts were always thwarted for one reason or another, but this year, with the cancellation of the “Modernism” show, a fall staple at the Park Avenue Armory, the pair finally got their chance. They sold out all fifty exhibitors’ booths in two weeks, and had more dealers clamoring to get in. The al lure? “As dealers ourselves, who have shown at and seen so many fairs, we understand how to accommodate the needs of both visitors and exhibitors,” Perrin says. And why turn away more business? At large fairs such as Art Basel, “there is an experience of sensory overload,” Perrin explains. “We want to remain a boutique fair. We don’t want to get bigger, only better.” And this from the coauthor of an exhibition series already lauded for its highly discriminating vetting process.
PAD New York, as the fair is known, opens its five-day run at the Armory on November 10. The ratio of art to design dealers will be even. “Our goal has always been to give art collectors a chance to see design in relation to art, and vice versa,” Perrin says. European exhibitors slightly outnumber Americans, but the treat for stateside connoisseurs is that the majority of the former have not shown in New York ever, or at least not in the past five years. These include such esteemed firms as Galerie du Passage in Paris, Nilufar Gallery of Milan, and Carpenters Workshop Gallery of London.
If all goes according to plan, Art Basel-ites will be greeted by a new landmark when they hit the sunny shores of Miami Beach this December: “Lighthouse,” a new sculpture by the German artist Tobias Reh-berger, winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale of 2009. Budgeted at $500,000, Rehberger’s work—made of aluminum and frosted glass and topped by an LED display—will stand five stories high in the city’s South Pointe Park. Reh-berger’s first public commission in the United States is definitely an eye-catching way to say “Welcome, art lovers!”
The publishing house Hudson Hills Press is at work on an ambitious project: a catalogue raisonné of the creations of the great American studio furniture designer Wendell Castle, who is still going strong at age seventy-nine. The firm hopes to have the book ready by next fall. Considering Castle’s varied and prodigious output in his fifty-plus-year career, archivists continue to seek examples of his work to include. Collectors interested in sharing their holdings with a wider audience are encouraged to submit information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This season the auction world will offer numerous choices for lovers of modern design. On September 21 Sotheby’s New York will present a personal collection of mid-century design that features lots appealing to wallets of all sizes. The “Collection of Colleen Sullivan” includes items ranging from a rare “Wessex” carpet by McKnight Kauffer—estimate: $60,000 to $80,000—to a stable of thirty-three vases by the Danish glassmaker Per Lutkin—estimate: $4,000 to $6,000. On October 16 in L.A. Bonhams & Butterfields will hold a sale including more than thirty lots of furniture, decorative arts, and lighting pieces designed by the effervescent William Haines. Proceeds will go to a Canadian charity that insists on remaining anonymous. (Those humble Canadians.)
Also in SoCal, on October 9—timed to coincide with Pacific Standard Time, the Getty Foundation-sponsored, multiplatform survey of twentieth-century California art and design—Los Angeles Modern Auctions will hold a single owner sale of more than four hundred artworks accrued by the late collector Richard Dorso, whose holdings included two late 1960s works by John Baldessari. During the 2011 London Design Festival, beginning on September 16, the London division of the auction house Phillips de Pury & Company will unveil the third and latest collection of furniture by the designer Faye Toogood, featuring pieces based on the idea of iridescence. Bad pun, but: too good to miss.
Nipping at the heels of 1stdibs.com, upstart e-tailer VandM.com has grown sharper fangs thanks
to a cash injection from a venture capital firm. Along with the new money comes a swank new home, a corner loft in Manhattan’s Soho district. Also, look into interiorconnector.com, a website whose focus is to link both professionals and private individuals with smaller-scale—and thus often more creative—design firms.
Showtime! A couple of great exhibitions to visit this fall: R 20th Century, the groundbreaking gallery in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, will present, beginning October 6, new work by the rising star of Brazilian design, Hugo França, known for his monumental hand-hewn designs in pequi wood. If you’re in Paris, visit the contemp-orary design arm of François Laffanour, Galerie Downtown at 33 Rue de Seine, to see some of the last works designed by Ettore Sottsass before his recent death: a series of glass and glass-and-Corian sculptures inspired by Hopi and Zuni Native American kachina dolls.
Finally, let’s talk fairness. For years, interior designers have enjoyed sweet deals with furniture makers, producing name-brand design lines. Now dealers want in on the action. By the time you read this, New York’s Galerie Van den Akker will have released the first of two original, mid-century-inspired furniture collections—custom made under the name Studio Van den Akker. To come are lighting pieces and mirrors produced in partnership with the Murano-based Seguso glass workshop. Evan Lobel, nabob of the Manhattan store Lobel Modern, is about to release his own line of furnishings, finished with such unexpected materials as crushed seashells and cross-cut bamboo stalk medallions. On October 12 Manhattan dealer Liz O’Brien will unveil her own branded furniture line. For now she’s keeping mum about the style. Knowing Liz, we expect refinement and elegance.