Published: December 8, 2015
Review and Photos By Laura Beach
NEW YORK CITY — A flurry of favorable reviews. A vernissage on November 10 attended by Toshiko Mori, Robert Couturier, Muriel Brandolini and other top architects and designers. A brisk gate and some impressive sales. The genre-bending Salon of Art + Design returned to New York’s Park Avenue Armory November 11–16, demonstrating that there is life in the business yet.
The 55-gallery Salon show is impeccably produced and adroitly promoted by Sanford L. Smith & Associates. Sandy Smith hardly needs an introduction. He is an innovator — think Fall Antiques Show, Modernism and the Outsider Art Fair — with many firsts to his name. Smith makes show business sound easy. As he explains, “I always find the hole in the market. If there’s a need, I fill it. If dealers make money, they come back.”
Salon’s savvy executive director Jill Bokor and her staff apply a luxury-brand strategy to the marketing of art, antiques and design, reaching beyond the collector base to a wider fashion crowd. The result is an audience that is bigger, younger, hipper and richer than most shows attract. Strategic partnerships with everyone from Artsy and the Financial Times to Ruinart, Goyard and Temple St Clair add gloss.
As its name suggests, the Salon of Art +Design includes a substantial number of European exhibitors. Many are from France and most do other top international shows. Salon’s nearest equivalents are the PAD shows in Paris and London, and Design Miami in Florida. Salon differs from all in its distinctive mix of art and design, old and new.
As Bokor noted, “When we think about the ethos of the Salon, we’re thinking about how people create environments. Whether one considers himself a collector or simply an individual creating a home, it’s a thrilling time to be in the market.…Two decades ago collectors tended to stay in one genre. What’s so exciting today is that, with the help of architects and designers, rules have been thrown out. The eclectic combinations of artists, designers, materials and periods have become the desirable esthetic.”
Inspired by the Smithsonian’s 1983 exhibition “Japanese Ceramics Today: Masterworks of the Kikuchi Collection,” Joan B. Mirviss, an authority in historic Japanese art, added Modern and contemporary ceramics to her line in 1984. Today, her solo exhibitions of work by living artists attract curators from around the world and contribute to her wide institutional following.
Mirviss, who also exhibits at New York’s Winter Antiques Show, admires Salon for the quality and depth of its offerings, its refined presentation and its unique audience. “I see lots of South Americans and Europeans, and hear a lot of French here. My colleagues are international dealers who have clients, not New Yorkers, who follow them here.”
For Salon, Mirviss mounted a solo show of work by the eighth-generation Hagi potter Kaneta Masanao (b 1953). “We sold 75 percent of the show, which continues at our gallery,” the dealer said. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum own examples by the potter.
An antiquarian who in recent years moved aggressively into contemporary Chinese ink painting, London dealer Michael Goedhuis also praised Salon, calling it “a show sculpted for the future…..elegant, cool, adventurous with a visionary juxtaposition of art and the best of contemporary design and attracting the emerging international generation of collectors.”
Celebrating its 140th year, Kraemer Gallery of Paris brought the fine Eighteenth Century French furniture and accessories for which it is well known but stripped its brilliantly lit display of historical context. Four carved and gilded Louis XVI armchairs stamped by Jean-Baptiste Delaunay were highlights.
Paris dealer Oscar Graf arrayed oak by an international contingent of Arts and Crafts designers, among them Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Gustav Stickley, Charles Robert Ashbee, Greene and Greene and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Scandinavian Modernists were represented by Modernity of Stockholm and New York’s Hostler Burrows, which spotlighted a pine cabinet of 1930 by Axel Einar Hjorth.
The Berlin dealer Ulrich Fiedler filled his spacious booth at the front of the hall with tubular steel furniture by Bauhaus School designers.
Hudson, N.Y., dealer Mark McDonald invoked Smith’s old Modernism show, Salon’s predecessor, in an eclectic presentation centered around a 1940s Gerrit Rietveld upholstered armchair.
Robert Aibel of Philadelphia’s Moderne Gallery showed Modern pieces by George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick and contemporary work by David Ebner.
The show’s gravitational center is the 1960s and 1970s. Two advocates for the era are Galerie Dutko of Paris, which offered a two-seat stainless steel tambour coffee table with matching, slot-in chairs by Maria Pergay, 1968; and Demisch Danant of New York City, which displayed a Francois Arnal ghost lamp of 1970.
Lighting was a strong category altogether, as was ceramics and glass. Paris dealer Thomas Fritsch offered a Georges Jouve “Bird” vase of 1950.
Suspended overhead at Bernd Goeckler Antiques of New York City was a spectacular chandelier by Pietro Chiesa for Fontana Arte, Italy, 1939. Chiesa conceived the device as a giant, inverted bouquet with brass stems terminating in tinted, glass petals.
A Gio Ponti spherical floor lamp of circa 1957 was on offer at Galleria O. Roma, a new exhibitor from Italy.
In the fine arts realm, Salon welcomed back to New York the grand London gallerist Richard Green, who juxtaposed Modern and Postwar British art and Old Master and Impressionist works.
Robilant + Voena of London, Milan and St Moritz presented a Marino Marini bronze figure on horseback alongside works on canvas, paper and board by Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein.
The Americanist Bernard Goldberg gamely paired wrought iron by Samuel Yellin for New York’s Central Savings Bank with paintings by Oscar Bluemner and Paul Cadmus.
“Red Joy” by Jean-Michel Basquiat was a riveting presence at Galerie Boulakia of Paris.
A cadre of exhibitors show contemporary design by living artists. At Carpenters Workshop Gallery on opening night, a gallerist perched on a giant swirl of a patinated bronze bench from a limited edition of eight by Sebastian Brajkovic.
London dealer Adrian Sassoon featured a monumental porcelain vase by Felicity Aylieff, a Royal College of Art instructor who worked with the Pottery Workshop Experimental Factory in Jingdezhen, China to make the piece.
“Salon was a wonderful success. The clientele was stellar as usual — many wonderful private collectors and always top tier architects and interior designers,” said Anya Firestone, curator of Todd Merrill Studio of New York, adding, “The work is for sale, but often inspires custom commissions.”
Attendance, while robust, did not register anticipated gains. “After last year, I expected to be up ten to 15 percent. We were on a roll to have a record gate but, after the November 13 attacks in Paris, New Yorkers hunkered down. They did not want to be in crowded, public spaces,” said Smith.
The Salon of Art + Design returns to the Park Avenue Armory November 10–16. For information, 212-777-5218 or www.thesalonny.com.
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