Published: November 27, 2001
By Susan and Al Bagdade
WINNETKA, ILL. – Now in its 12th year, The Modernism Show: An Exposition and Sale of 20th Century Design, 1890-1970, proved to a highly successful outing for the 52 exhibiting dealers on November 3 and 4.
The Women’s Board of the Winnetka Community House produces this show entirely with volunteers to benefit the recreational, educational and cultural arts programs of the Community House that serves Winnetka and the North Shore of Chicago.
Friday’s preview provided early buying privileges to about 400 shoppers along with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The Stracks Zimmerman Lecture Series included Michael FitzSimmons on “Prairie School: 1900-1920s,” Rod Parett and Susan Lich on “The Role of Hickory Furniture in the Arts and Crafts Movement,” Andrew Wilder on “Scandinavian Arts” and Rich-ard Wright on “20th Century Decorative Arts.” These free lectures were well attended.
Seven new exhibitors joined the Modernism “regulars” from across the United States, Canada and England. Strong sales were reported by many of the dealers who were also quite pleased with the attendance of more than 3,000 showgoers. Many dealers remarked about the knowledgeable collectors in Chicagoland in the areas of Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Prairie School, Art Moderne, Fifties and other Twentieth Century design movements.
Newcomer Andrew Wilder of Svenska Mobler (Swedish Furniture) from Los Angeles, Calif., found an exceptionally receptive audience for his sleek bloodwood pieces that are early modernist Swedish furniture spanning the time period from 1900-1940.
“The Swedes are masterful woodworkers, and this furniture is as fine as anything produced anywhere,” says Wilder. “The reason people don’t know about it is because it wasn’t made for export. It was made by hand for a domestic market, for people who were investing in furniture they expected to own for life.” There were lots of “sold” tags in Wilder’s exhibit, and he had to restock his booth at least once. An article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune prior to the show’s opening generated a lot of interest in his furnishing and accessories. Art works by Linsey Phillips that were in display in his booth also sold very well.
From right in Winnetka, Fern Simon of Arts 220 felt that “people are putting money into good things. When times are uncertain, quality counts.” Simon was selling French and Italian high quality modern pieces, including a 1940s French Adnet mirror, an early Thonet chair, a Fornasetti metal tray and a very rare major piece of Spratling silver in the form of a fish pillbox.
Fern continued, “Demand has never been higher for good pieces, while supply is lower. Paris is the best place for shopping.” In the 12 years that Fern has been in business, she related that “quality pieces are what people want more than ever before.”
Business was brisk at Out of the Closet from Chicago, where they were selling lots of coats from the 40s and 50s, all types of suits with a smattering of Jackie O hats and evening purses.
Early sales at Neri-Dobrick Gallery from Chicago included a Susie Cooper coffee set, a Clarice Cliff vase, an important large tin toy, and a painting.
White and White Art and Interiors from Skaneateles, N.Y., was selling tons of expensive smalls and some furniture early in the show. Navajo rugs, a hat rack, purses, steer horns mounted in silver and a ton of hammered aluminum all went home with satisfied shoppers.
From Akron, Ohio, A Look Back sold an Art Deco aluminum plaque, lots of lamps and some Paul McCobb furniture.
Vienna Secession is the specialty of Rita Bucheit, Ltd. from Chicago. Within that category fall the Wiener Werkstatte pieces by Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser. Sales included a selection of mirrors, Hoffmann chairs and an extendable table that generated so much interest that they might sell two of them.
Silversmiths of local interest such as Kalo, Cellini and Novick were sold by Peter Tinkler of Woodstock, Ill., in hollowware, flatware and jewelry. Still available was a circa 1920 Kalo bowl tagged $2,750 and a sterling bowl by Dominick and Haff of New York from 1900 for $1,250.
Hollywood Phones.com from Boulder, Colo., sells ready to plug in phones that are compatible with touch tone systems dating from the 1920s to 40s that range in price from $200 for an average desk phone to $450.
From Chicago, Gene Douglas Decorative Arts and Antiques was exceptionally pleased with strong sales across the board in ceramics, glass, jewelry and more.
At Praiseworthy from Guilford, N.Y., John Lynch related that “this area is great for us. People are knowledgeable and ready to buy. There are not so many shows, so they take advantage of the opportunity.” By Saturday he had sold paintings, two pairs of chairs and an Art Deco lamp.
A circa 1890 handmade walled German village with the original paper map diagram was available for $5,500. A pair of oil paintings from the lobby of the old Holly Burlesque Theatre in Scully Square in Boston in shadow box frames dating circa 1945 was yours for $1,750.
Stephen Maras Antiques from nearby Wilmette was pleased with sales of Secessionist furniture from Josef Hoffmann including a desk, mirror, pair of chairs and also ceramics, and an English firescreen.
At Collage 20th Century Classics from Dallas, Tex., sales included a ton of lamps and some furniture. A very rare set of Finn Juhl dining chairs manufactured by Niels Vodder were $3,000 each while the dining table was $7,500.
John Herrmann of Art Moderne from Tampa, Fla., had great sales. “We were replacing things all day long. There were plenty of customers.”
The dealers had a wide range of merchandise, but sold more paintings than usual. Aluminum was also a big seller since it is exceptionally affordable.
Poster Plus from Chicago featured their “rarer and then” original posters from the Works Progress Administration dating 1936-1942. These posters were created to promote art, cultural and civic activities in Chicago and the United States. In the light of September 11, patriotic posters from both World War I and II were selling well.
John and Nan Sollo from Fort Collins, Colo., reported that “any day in Winnetka is a good day.” They sold their Ettore Sottsass Casablanca cabinet. This Italian designer is the most famous post modern designer and head of the “Memphis” movement.
“This is the first Memphis piece of furniture in Winnetka” said John. “We pioneered Paul Evans in Winnetka and now this.” Very few of these Casablanca cabinets were made.
“This is only a 1970s piece, but technology has compacted people’s idea of time. We actually could have sold this piece a couple more times since there was so much interest in it.” They also sold George Nelson furniture, a Bertoia modern print, Italian pottery and Chase chrome.
Route 66 from Chatham, N.Y., sold celluloids from the 1920s, Bakelite jewelry from the 1930s, Miriam Haskell costume jewelry, silver, copper and good costume Christmas pins.
Full Circle from Royal Oak, Mich., also sold a lot of Bakelite jewelry, an Arts and Crafts copper and iron plant stand, vases, pictures and a wide assortment of rdf_Descriptions.
Newcomer Premier Design from Naples, Fla., specializes in vintage costume jewelry such as Mariam Haskell, Trifari, Boucher, Nettie, Chanel and Reja. They had a spectacular Art Deco iron hall tree tagged $5,000.
Pavilion from Chicago has come to the show for years and reported to be “thrilled to be included as an exhibitor for our first year. With everything going on, sales are good. We met nice people both organizers and customers.” Sales included a Prouve shelf, Prouve chairs, a pair of Serge Mouille sconces and a clamp lamp, a P. Gauriche floor lamp and a George Jouve ceramic lidded jar.
Another first timer was Good Design from New York City. Gail Garlick felt that the people “were knowledgeable and responsive. They are not afraid to spend money. They treat you like they are glad to see you.” She sold a Dino Martens orient Murano glass bowl, an Edward Wormely bench and Mimi Goss pastels.
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