Review and Photos by Laura Beach
NEW YORK CITY — Scott Diament and Rob Samuels, respectively the energetic president/CEO and vice president of the Florida-based Palm Beach Show Group, are known as much for the ambitious scale of their presentations as for the luxurious lifestyles their shows tacitly promote. Originating in Palm Beach and stretching north to Baltimore and New York, and west to Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, the PBSG fairs are international and diverse, with a nearly even emphasis on fine and decorative arts, much of it traditional but with touches of the contemporary. Eight of the PBSG events have “jewelry” in their titles. The group’s approach to marketing jewelry as fine art is one of its signature traits.
As befitting an organization with Florida roots, the Palm Beach Show Group’s busy season is October through February. After wrapping up its New York City Jewelry & Watch Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion October 28–31, PBSG moved uptown to the Park Avenue Armory for its November 20–24 New York Art, Antique & Jewelry Show.
We caught up with Scott Diament on the floor of the latter just before it opened for a by-invitation-only preview party on Friday, November 20. Fittingly, Diament was putting the final touches on a special display, placing a hammered gold bowl by the Belgian metalsmiths Japp and Rob Thalen into an ornately carved showcase supplied by Charles and Caroline Wallrock of Wick Antiques, an English firm that for years supplied Harrods in London. Thalen and Thalen transformed a gold bullion bar worth $50,000 to create the craggy bowl priced $200,000.
The showcase stood adjacent to Richard Green’s expansive display of blue-chip English and European paintings. Connoisseurs are happy to see Green back in New York after an extended absence. On its outside walls, the gallery hung an assortment of works by Modern and contemporary masters, from Henry Moore and Josef Albers to Bridget Riley.
The French school took precedence at Willow Gallery of London, which offered “Sucrier et Citrons” by Pierre-August Renoir, “Le Havre, le Bassin de la Barre” by Eugene Boudin and “Eglise Saint Leger, Soissons” by Maurice Utrillo, 1918–20, among others.
We have come to expect the unexpected from Marion Harris, a New York dealer with a sharp eye for expressive art and design. Harris used the occasion to showcase the work of Alan Macdonald, a Scottish painter whose dramatic portraits on dark backgrounds evoke the Old Masters but fold in bits and pieces of contemporary life to create intriguing narratives. Harris, who is herself Scottish, recently visited the painter’s Carnoustie studio and is collaborating with the Stewart Gallery of Boise, Idaho, to make Macdonald better known in the United States.
The show’s strength in antique jewelry pairs happily with its dominance of Art Nouveau decorative arts here represented by three leading American firms — Macklowe Gallery, Lillian Nassau LLC and Ophir Gallery — and by Excelsior Art of France. Ophir featured the gilt-bronze figure “L’idee” by Raoul Larche, circa 1901. Excelsior presented a monumental Galle scenic cameo vase, “La Ligne bleue des Vosges,” an urn-form vessel with applied foot. A unique bronze-mounted Favrile pottery vase by Tiffany Studios, circa 1905, was a highlight at Lillian Nassau, which also offered a forged steel dining table made by Albert Paley for the “Art for Use” exhibition at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Furniture by the Italian designer Carlo Bugatti (1856–1940) captured notice at Callaghan. The dealers from Shrewsbury, England, showed a Bugatti occasional table embellished with pewter, copper and vellum with a pair of similarly decorated walnut stools and a throne chair.
Black Forest carved eagles and a stag joined a life-size bronze of a tiger by Tsunematsu and a Regency center table attributed to the premier Scottish cabinetmaker Trotter of Edinburgh at Wick Antiques. Another highlight was an 1897 model of a Foote Class torpedo boat built by Colombian Ironworks & Dry Dock Co. in Baltimore.
New York dealer Paul Vandekar paired a delightful circa 1820–30 Staffordshire figural group conceived as two spotted deer and a seated horn player with a large Rorstrand stoneware vase decorated with a continuous skyline scene of Manhattan by Oskar Dahl in 1948.
Known for art pottery, especially Boch Freres, TOJ Gallery of Annapolis, Md., led with a monumental 1994 vase decorated with tulips and a Matisse-like dancer by French artist Pierre Boncompain (b 1938).
One of the most interesting displays belonged to FitzGerald Fine Arts of New York City. Artist and gallerist Jared FitzGerald creates classically inspired contemporary porcelain sculpture in Jingdezhen, China.
The show’s lone Americana dealer, Jeff R. Bridgman, boasted a rare Revenue Cutter Service ensign of circa 1870–80. “It is hand sewn, with one of the best designs — an eagle, stripes and 13 stars,” said the York County, Penn., specialist.
New Yorkers are accustomed to brushing up against celebrity, a phenomenon served with panache by Lion Hart Autographs. The New York dealer’s varied offering ranged from a 1944 Raoul Wallenberg letter exempting a 9-year-old Hungarian Jew from wearing the yellow star to a lengthy Orville Wright letter excoriating a rival.
Jewelers who took part included Charamonde of Lake Worth, Fla., Aletto Brothers of Boca Raton, Fla., J.S. Fearnley of Atlanta, Oliver and Espig of Santa Barbara, and a handful of Europeans, among them Veronique Bamps of Monaco, Moira Fine Jewelry of London, Sabbadini of Milan and Yvel of Jerusalem.
In collaboration with Australian designer Marc Newson, Georg Jensen of New York offered Newsom’s five-piece tea set in sterling silver from a limited edition of ten.
Thalen and Thalen’s patinated silver vases and bowls gleamed against a dramatic black backdrop.
The November 20 preview party drew 2,500 arts enthusiasts. Ellie Cullman, co-chair of the show’s design committee and founder of the New York-based decorating firm Cullman & Kravis, headlined a contingent of designers that included Campion Platt, Alex Papachristidis and Geoffrey Bradfield, among others.
Next up for Palm Beach Show Group is the Los Angeles Fine Art Show: Historic and Contemporary and the LA Art Show: Modern and Contemporary, January 27–31; the PBSG’s flagship fair, the Palm Beach Jewelry, Arts & Antique Show, February 10–16; the February 5–9 Naples Art, Antique & Jewelry Show on Florida’s Gulf Coast; and the Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show, planned for the fall of 2016.
Palm Beach Show Group is at 500 North Dixie Highway in Lake Worth, Fla.
For additional information, www.palmbeachshowgroup.com or 561-822-5400.