Less is often more, but in the case of Avenue Shows’ Antiques, Art & Design at the Armory, more is better.
The fall edition of the show that ran September 22′5 at the Park Avenue Armory embraced what show director Barbara Goodwin described as “expansion mode” with more dealers and more special events and programming offered. While the spring edition hosted 49 dealers here, 66 dealers set up shop this time around to offer a diverse and choice selection of items from the last four centuries or so. From panel discussions and lectures on topics from women in interior design to jewelry and decorating with antiques, the show offered plenty to do †and see. It is thus little surprise that this show has become known as the premier event of the fall season in Manhattan.
The timeframe of merchandise was extended a bit for this show, and buyers found items from the Seventeenth Century through the mid-Twentieth Century, which prompted the addition of “Design” in the show’s title. Buyers responded enthusiastically to these changes, with a crowd of more than 1,500 attending the show’s preview Wednesday, September 21. Attendance was a bit off Friday due to heavy rains, but management reported a strong gate through the weekend.
More significant than the final gate tally was the quality of the buyers walking in. Many dealers were pleased to report to Goodwin that the buyers were knowledgeable and serious. “The comment I got repeatedly from dealers was, ‘They knew what they were looking for,'” she said. “We were very pleased with the show. It was an interesting and unusual mix. It really offered something for everyone.”
Goodwin and her team worked hard to present a compelling show that had quality items across a broad range of disciplines: antiques, fine art, silver, furniture, Midcentury Modern, contemporary art and folk art, ensuring every buyer walking through the door could find something in their collecting genre. There were even a handful of antiquities thrown in for good measure.
“You have to continue to refresh&⁗e are very lucky to have a loyal audience and very loyal stable of dealers. What more could you ask for than that combination? We are pleased †as a company †to continue to deliver the audience they are looking for,” she said.
Taking its usual place at the front of the show, immediately to the right, was Antique American Wicker, Nashua, N.H., which featured a lovely Heywood Wakefield suite, circa 1920, in a pleasing natural finish, while M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, La., was again camped out across the aisle.
Being “up front and center” puts the onus on dealers to set out their best pieces to immediately whet buyers’ appetites, thus setting the stage for an attractive show. And these dealers came through in spades, mounting interesting and elegant booths that were echoed up and down every aisle.
Rau’s side wall facing the show entrance boldly showcased Norman Rockwell’s oil on canvas, “Waiting for the Art Editor,” depicting a bright and anxious young artist holding her portfolio, while a mature artist looks on staidly. Rockwell is said to have painted himself as the young artist and his mentor, J.C. Leyendecker, as the older artist in this “passing of the torch” scene. Inside Rau’s booth, buyers practically tripped over themselves during Wednesday’s preview, and kept the staff busy as they examined the jewelry, choice furniture and other works of art on offer.
Richard Lavigne of Knollwood Antiques LLC, New York City, was among the dealers reporting a strong showing here. “Our sales were beyond our expectations,” he said, noting that he was pleased with the attendance. “Guests varied in age, but we were pleased at the number of people under 40, both with and without children in tow who came through the show. Sunday was well attended, and I was oftentimes working with multiple guests simultaneously.”
Besides the action in his booth, he saw good Nineteenth Century English and Continental pieces exiting the floor from other stands, as well as modern works of art. “The management team was exceptional and Julie Dannenberg of Avenue Magazine worked tirelessly promoting the show,” he said. “A level of excitement, curiosity and sustained interest was apparent throughout the event, and everyone hopes that this will continue throughout our industry as the season continues.”
Nula Thanhauser, East Hampton, N.Y., always draws crowds into her booth filled with wonderful antique and vintage handbags and purses. During the preview gala, her booth was filled with many showgoers oohing and ahhing over her collections as they strolled down memory lane and enough buyers that made this show her best here. Contacted after the show, Thanhauser described the show as “very good.” She continued, “People were really interested in Art Deco, Art Nouveau and World War II Lucite things †a very discerning audience. They knew exactly what they were looking for.”
The audience range surprised her a bit, stretching from young women in their 30s to those in their 60s. “It takes a certain mindset to carry an obviously vintage purse,” she said, saying that buyers were confident and appreciative of the vintage look, and adding this is the kind of audience she loves.
Marion Harris, New York City, wrote up sales of a turn-of-the-century set of “historical diamonds” in the original case, along with an unusual companion version of colored gems and several pieces of Nineteenth Century Scottish jewelry. Contemporary confessionals made by Outsider artist Carlos DeMedeiros, who was present at the show to meet collectors of his work, also sold well.
Known for featuring articulated artist’s models in her booth, Harris drew interest this time for two clothing items. Tom Thumb’s waistcoat of hand-embroidered silk with tiny embroidered buttons was fetching and was offered with an original wedding photograph showing Tom wearing the coat. Displayed next to the waistcoat was a tiny pink dress seemingly of fragile cloth. The dress was actually made of tin by contemporary artist Chris Beck and sold during the show to a doting grandmother, who purchased it as a gift for her 8-month-old granddaughter Sidney. The dress is to hang in the little girl’s room as the start to her art collection. Now, that’s what we call a “young collector!”
Macklowe Gallery, New York City, was thrilled to sell furniture, noting that in a recession, one does not expect to sell furniture. The dealers sold a full Majorelle dining room suite, including a pair of armchairs and a sideboard †all to new customers. Macklowe’s booth always is a popular stop for jewelry and Tiffany lighting as well.
Other works catching the eye at the show included a pair of Joan Miro surrealist compositions in pochoir, both dated 1934, seen at F.L. Braswell Fine Art, Chicago, Ill., which also featured a pastel by Allan Kaprow (1927′006) titled “Mary Christmas,” circa 1954, along with a dramatic watercolor by J.J. McVicker (1911′004) titled “An Amazon Encounter.”
The star offering in the booth of Jerome Jacalone Fine Arts, New York City, was an Eighteenth Century oil on canvas, “The Tiber with Castel Sant Angelo and St Peters,” from the Circle of Antonio Joli. The dealers also offered an oil on canvas attributed to Sebastien Bourdon (1616‱671) titled “A Brawl in a Guardroom.”
A standout in the booth of John Atzbach, Redmond, Wash., was a Fabergé silver flatware service, circa 1908‱7, in its original case. The neoclassical pattern in laurel leaf and acanthus had molded initials of GS and included both a dinner service and dessert service. Among the dinner pieces were 24 dinner knives and forks, as well as 12 each of soupspoons, teaspoons, and 5 o’clock teaspoons.
Another piece of Fabergé in Atzbach’s booth was a fine and massive gilded silver and red translucent enamel mounted presentation photograph frame. Made by Johann Victor Arne, St Petersburg, circa 1899‱908, the wood frame contains an original photograph of Tsar Nicholas II, signed and inscribed to him “Nicholas, Reval 1902.”
Cavalier Galleries, Greenwich, Conn., featured Jim Rennert’s bronze, “Momentum,” 2009, while a pair of paintings by contemporary artist John Terelak were also noteworthy. The oils on canvas, “Bookstalls, New York City” and “The Village, New York City,” each measured 16 by 20 inches and were painted last year.
Specializing in European antiques, Beverly Hills, Calif., gallerist R.M. Barokh offered a pleasing mix of sculpture, fine paintings and choice items. Standouts were an Anglo Indian ivory miniature bureau cabinet, Vizagapatam, India, circa 1800, and an English neoclassical carved stone urn, circa 1790, decorated with medallions, grotesque masks and swags. A nearly identical urn is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is signed Coade & Soames.
Fine jewelry was liberally sprinkled around the show in several booths. Choice pieces from designers such as David Webb, Cartier and Buccellati were seen at Hollis Reh & Shariff, Southampton, N.Y., and Camilla Dietz Bergeron, New York City, while colored gemstone specialist Sabbadini, New York City, set up a row of plexi cases in a line, each featuring a different color theme of jewelry, from pinks to greens to blues and so on.
The Barakat Gallery, Beverly Hills, Calif., received much attention from visitors for three antiquities it displayed. Well received were a marble sculpture of Aphrodite known as the Venus Genetrix, Third Century, and priced at a cool $1.8 million, along with an Olmec jadite mask, pre-Columbian period. Also offered was a Roman period basalt fragment from a synagogue, hailing from Syria and dating to 100‴00 AD. On the 17½-inch-tall fragment is a menorah, carved in relief.
The gallery also featured contemporary paintings by its gallerist Fayez Barakat, whose “Black Paradise” and “Iridescent Marine” caught many an eye.
For more information, 646-442-1627 or www.avenueshows.com .