WINTER News & Notes
The themes for this edition are pairings, groupings, and movings. The first example comes from Philadelphia’s Wexler Gallery, a firm that deals in both modern art and modern design and is known for quirkily curated exhibitions. One that opens on December 3 is a doozy: a show that couples works on paper by Pablo Picasso with new work by designer Wendell Castle [right]. How come this marriage? “I wanted to challenge the viewer,” says gallery owner Lewis Wexler. “Wendell’s new work uses the stack-laminated wood technique he perfected in the 1960s to create pieces in abstract forms. After seeing the new work, I felt that a modernist artist would be interesting to show with Castle. What better artist than Picasso?”
Another artist and designer have been coupled at the Lower Belvedere in Vienna. The exhibition Gustav Klimt/Josef Hoffmann: Pioneers of Modernism runs until March 4, 2012. The two met in 1897 at the Vienna Secession artists union, and subsequently designed and decorated a number of exhibition spaces together. Klimt and Hoffmann also had a surprising number of clients in common. The former painted their portraits, the latter designed houses, interiors, and even jewelry for them. A highlight of the show is a reproduction of the Hoffman’s masterpiece, the Palais Stoclet in Brussels.
As more and more design dealers get in on the action in the Chelsea art gallery district of Manhattan, teaming up may be a new trend. Case in point: dealer, decorator, and all-around tastemaker Ford Lininger has moved into the showroom [left] of the furnishings design team Khouri Guzman Bunce Ltd. —better know as KGB Ltd.—on West Twenty-Fifth Street. Lininger deems the location—adjacent to the High Line park—“the best gallery block in the city.” He will represent KGB’s work and says his move to west Chelsea “was based on the fact that the furniture I deal in is really as much art as it is design.”
Nature abhors a vacuum and so do gallery owners. For several years, art collector and entrepreneur Cathy Vedovi co-owned the M Building in the Wynwood arts district of Miami with Parisian design dealer Emmanuel Perrotin . When Perrotin opted out early this year and Vedovi took sole possession of the M, she brought in Paris-based designer-dealer Chahan Minassian for a revamp. He came up with a scheme to style the first floor as if it were a residence, leaving upper-floor spaces as white boxes suitable for exhibitions, lectures, and such. Art from Vedovi’s holdings is sprinkled throughout the main floor; Minassian created a “living room” that is actually a branch of Chahan, his Paris design gallery; and the “kitchen” is home to a bakery.
Move over La Cienega Boulevard—Los Angeles now officially has another top-shelf design district. Melrose Avenue is the new cruising zone for collectors and interior designers. Pioneers such as Galerie Half and Boo Radley’s Antiques have been joined in recent months by Reform Gallery [photos right] and Pegaso. Further along the avenue, the venerable (if unfortunately named) mid-century design shop Skank World and the collectibles store Kantor LA have hung out their shingles. Says Reform Gallery owner Gerard O’Brien: “I have noticed a big increase in the number of decorators coming by. They say that they like being able to hit so many doors in a two block radius, not to mention that stores like JF Chen and Blackman Cruz are just around the corner on Highland Ave.”
Having upped stakes from Paris the chic dealer Flore de Brantes is settling nicely into her new gallery in Brussels [photo below]. The move, she says, “was dictated by the fact that Brussels is both the European Union capital and the geographical center of Europe.” The gallery is located in a National Heritage-certified art nouveau townhouse built in 1903 and designed by architect Ernest Blérot. De Brantes continues to offer her trademark mix of antique and contemporary design and art.
Given a generous £17.5 million kick-start by Sir Terence Conran, efforts are continuing apace to move London’s Design Museum across the Thames by 2014. Leaving its current space on the South Bank—a onetime banana warehouse—the museum will triple its exhibition space when it relocates to the Commonwealth Institute, a striking, tent-shaped building near Holland Park, erected in 1962 and empty since 2002. One of the lead architects for the renovation, John Pawson, says “The Commonwealth Institute is fifty years old, but the form still feels daring. The sense of vertical expansion when you step into the heart of the building is exhilarating no matter how many times you experience it. Our work is about preserving and enhancing this spatial experience for new generations of visitors.”
Expressive Modern: The Interiors of Amy Lau, the first book from the elegant and engaging New York designer, was issued recently by Monacelli Press. Lau has a knack for making modernist furnishings bounce, as the book amply proves. Grab it.
Final Notes: Next year MODERN will expand a lecture series on “Collecting Design,” initiated in the Fall of 2011. Talks are held at the Decoration & Design Building, 979 Third Avenue, New York … The special “Design Guide” insert in the Fall issue of MODERN gave an incorrect address for Hirschl & Adler Galleries. The firm is located in the famed Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, New York. Apologies.