Published: October 31, 2000
The Gramercy Park Modern Show
NEW YORK CITY – The Gramercy Park Modern Show was held at the 69th Regiment Armory on October 6,7 and 8 bringing 100 dealers to the Armory’s wide-open expanse. Created was an atmosphere of soaring tributes to an era born from the industries of war. This was a period where mechanization meant streamlined, but earmarked for conflict. New processes were developed in the aircraft industry; bent plywood became the ‘skins’ to transport gliders, missiles became more sleek to insure arrival on Russian soil, and jets were streamlined for speed, their aluminum surfaces polished like mirrors and devoid of paint for weight savings.
Artists, designers and furniture manufacturers saw the potential of applying these new technologies and sleek forms towards production and soon new shapes and ideas pervaded homes. Functionality replaced cushy overwrought furniture and America now bought colorful, simple and confident pieces which perhaps personified the mindset of a nation wishing to move past the ‘heaviness’ of the war and ironically embraced styles and forms born from the crucibles of the war efforts.
Architects always were on the forefront of ideas and understood material limitations and found these limits by sometimes surpassing them. Miës Van Der Rohe was prolific as he was brilliant and produced simple light forms; Charles Eames solved storage problems, along with George Nelson; and Isamu Noguchi and these designers teamed up with Herman Miller to manufacture furniture to fuel the masses from assembly line creations. Designers created new templates that influenced everyday objects – vacuum cleaners didn’t even escape their wandering eye. If the vacuum looked like a rocket, it was no mistake. Perhaps the chore of cleaning would now zoom by leaving more free time.
Items from the show represented the full spectrum of “Modern” and buyers began purchasing immediately after Friday’s opening, indicating the strength of the market and the quality of the rdf_Descriptions. Ric Emmett of Modernism Gallery, Coral Gables, Fla. reported he had a “great, wonderful show” and felt the Stella Management Team did an incredible job of setting up the show and made getting in and out effortless. Sales included a French stone-lithograph depicting the Normadie, 40 by 25 inches for $950, a “skyscraper” mirror and wall sconce set and many follow up emails and phone calls before Ric even had returned to Florida. Ric shows in Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. and feels New York is one of the best markets outside of Miami.
Show manager Joan Tramontano stated,” I am thrilled to be able to report dealers did very well, many felt this year was stronger than the inaugural show held last year. I see a continuation in the decorating trends related to streamline and clean line of mid-century furniture and design. Dealers in the show provide original pieces for magazine layouts and it’s very satisfying to see the success generated from the show.”
Molly Ringwald, Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates were reported to have made appearances and a TV crew from Discovery Channel filmed part of a documentary during the show. The selection of glass, furniture, Art Deco jewelry, paintings and photographs were as diverse as the crowd and New York City served as a perfect backdrop to the venue presented in these 100 booths.
Mario Carrandi, of Belle Mead, N.J., sells large vintage posters and reported the show went well and he remained very busy. The trend in collecting Mario sees is related to Cubism and late 1920-40s Deco; anything pertaining to this period is a very strong seller. He specializes in Barnum, Cassandre, Cheret, Mucha, Buffalo Bill and many others and has been selling for 15 years. Most of the posters have been “brought back to life” by conservators who wash, bleach and mount the posters on acid free-duck linen and are priced from $450 to $6,000. Some date to the 1880s to 1890s and Mario treats these restored advertising posters as “his children” and wishes he made the decision to become a purveyor of vintage posters years earlier. His enthusiasm was contagious as he flipped through the large selection of stone-lithographed brilliant posters as he explained how the posters were individually run, each color impressed onto the poster paper from a stone which was polished smooth when the “run” or edition was finished
Bizarre Bazaar, New York City, had a 1940s metal toolbox in the shape of a rocket, a fantastic 1940s tin racer made in Germany measuring 20 inches and wearing original paint. Aviation related rdf_Descriptions, futuristic model cars and Automobilia, Art Deco posters and prints, Art Nouveau jewelry, perfume bottles- a diverse mix, all showing the influence of a design template called modern. John and Nora Lee Knight, owners felt the show was strong and sold the ‘rocket’ toolbox for $1,600.
Dalton’s American Decorative Arts of Syracuse, N.Y specializes in the American Arts & Crafts Movement and featured a Dirk van Erp lamp in original excellent condition, was 20 inches high with a 19 inch diameter shade and was priced at $22,000. A Roycroft lamp in excellent condition with a new patina measured 14 inches tall and had a 10-inch diameter shade, was priced at $4,800. Several Roycroft candlesticks, Benedict Studios dishes, a Buffalo Art Craft Shop enameled box priced at $3,750, a Gustav Stickley letter file at $675 and a Stickley calendar holder rounded out a selection of rdf_Descriptions on display. Pottery pieces were well represented carrying the names of Fulper, Grueby, Hampshire, Niloak, Rookwood, Roseville, Marblehead, Teco and Weller.
Richard and Julie Wright of wright, Chicago, Ill., had a very good show selling a Nakashima cabinet along with approximately 50 percent of the booth’s contents. Representing a full range of rdf_Descriptions were a Donald Knorr chair, red metal with a stamped center rib and was in pristine condition; a George Nelson designs included a “Spike” Clock with multi-colored spikes, $2,500; and a birch slat bench manufactured by Herman Miller.
The show, according to Stella Management, “is the most important and creative new resource for Twentieth Century design bringing together 100 of the country’s top specialists and offers an opportunity for true investment quality merchandise.” Fine examples of Art Deco and Nordic Modern were found among the troves of Modern rdf_Descriptions and Gramercy Park Modern has already created a name in two short years. The popularity of Modern has grown tremendously and has finally garnered the accolades and attention deserving of a style that still appears fresh, deliberate and ahead of its time.
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