Review & Onsite Photos by Z.G. Burnett
NEW YORK CITY — The 12th edition of the Salon Art + Design at the Park Avenue Armory welcomed more than 2,000 visitors during its dazzling opening night on November 9. Salon was produced by Sanford Smith + Associates, and the premier event was co-hosted by Nathalie and Laura de Gunzburg. With 50 leading design exhibitors and 12 special design exhibitions from global houses exclusive to Salon, the show was off to a great start with an excellent number of sales from many vendors during the opening. Everywhere one looked, there was an item or booth that was beautiful to behold, dating from ancient artifacts to contemporary tableaus. Salon was open to the public through November 13.
“It’s always like this, though,” said one visitor to another during the early press preview. “Literally the last minute.” Any reader who has produced, sold at or even assisted at such a show can empathize with the controlled chaos of scaffolding, ladders and drinking glass organization that typically ensues right up to opening. Many exhibitors were international but even some locals were down to the wire setting up, a lengthy process in which anything and everything can go wrong. The majority were ready to receive customers within the hour, and those who were not quite there still had people waiting patiently for their favorite designers to settle.
Twenty First Gallery, New York City, gave one a case of the “ooh shiny,” presenting the glittering work of French sculptor Nathalie Ziegler, who works with specially blown glass from the Verrerie de Saint Just that’s broken into shards and reassembled into unique, signed home furnishings. Ziegler’s green-tone Tree Hanging chandelier hung from the exhibition space’s ceiling, but our eye was drawn to a trio of peacock colored, five-armed candle holders titled “La Forêt,” or “The Forest.” Twenty First also displayed a collection of Ziegler’s mirrors in various sizes, presenting options at a range of prices to create more accessibility for young collectors.
Another sculptor expanding the media was Bahamian artist Anina Major, represented by Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles. Descended from artisan basket makers on both sides of her family, Major uses weaving techniques passed down to her to construct her glazed stoneware sculptures. Two of these occupied the far corners of the exhibition space. “Sovereignty” was created with the coiled weaving style used by her father, while “Double Dutch” showed the plait style taught to Anina by Major’s mother. Both were sprinkled with Bahamian sand, a detail she uses to further link the objects with her homeland.
Many artists and designers attended the show to discuss their work with potential customers and admirers. Brian DeMuro and Puru Das of DeMuro Das, Delhi and New York City, unveiled their new LouLou lounge chairs. Described as “a contemporary interpretation of a club chair,” the LouLou offers a deep seat without dominating a room, emphasizing both comfort and design. Upholstered with tapestry-like fabric in Dedar’s Schwarzwald, or Enchanted Forest, pattern in a few different colors and wood bases, the LouLou also features long, shredded fringe from Houles that moves gracefully along with the chair’s unexpected swivel. “We didn’t want to just do white bouclé,” DeMuro said with a wry smile.
Another designer bringing “a bit of wit” to the classics was Sebastian Errazuriz, who could be found in the David Gill Gallery, London, exhibition space along with a number of his interior pieces. Inspired by antiquity, Errazuriz uses busts and sculptures from the Greco-Roman canon in unexpected, humorously irreverent ways. A prime example was “Athena Lemnia,” a bronze and marble side table featuring the goddess Athena’s inverted head on the underside, and another was a set of ebony, steel and marble composite shelves titled “Bust.” As its name implies, work featured different portrait busts in various states of completion holding up the shelves. Errazuriz’s use of these ancient motifs in this way suggests their simultaneous relevance and irrelevance; they are timeless but ultimately utilitarian when the need arises.
One of the earliest pieces at Salon was brought by Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva and New York City, a Cycladean figure made circa 2400 BCE by the Steiner Master. Possibly a “mother goddess” figure, it was in remarkable condition with no repairs or losses aside from its feet, referred to as being in “original skin.” Although their original significance is not exactly known, these figures were intentionally broken before being buried in gravesites.
This example had a long exhibition history, including five museums in the 1980s, and was offered from a private collection.
Another rare ancient piece was a tabletop-sized Roman marble sculpture circa the First Century BCE to the First Century CE, “Actaeon Attacked by his Hounds,” presented by Ariadne, London. In the Roman version of this myth, Actaeon was a Theban hero who was caught spying on the bathing goddess Diana, who punished the mortal man by turning him into a stag that was then hunted by his own dogs. This particular sculpture was one of few that exist in private collections, and a similar example was found at Herculaneum and is now in the Vatican Museum. Circumambulating the sculpture created the illusion of movement, which was especially compelling when contrasted against the surrounding contemporary art.
Across the aisle in the Halcyon Gallery, London, was one such impressive piece from Dominic Harris, a tower composed of small, tablet-like screens that changed every minute to reflect Google’s five trending topics, titled “Feeding Consciousness.” The topics were localized and geo specific, giving “visual snippets” of information. This was Halcyon’s first showing at Salon, and versions of the installation had already been acquired by institutions in the United Kingdom and the United States by opening night.
Salon Art + Design takes place at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue — dates for its 2024 edition are forthcoming. For information, 212-777-5218 or www.thesalonny.com.