Published: May 15, 2012
The Spring Show NYC returned to the Park Avenue Armory May 2‶ offering a well-calibrated presentation, setting itself apart from New York’s crowded calendar of art and antiques fairs.
Calculatedly traditional but aimed at a younger generation of designers and collectors, the 63-exhibitor show, organized by the Art and Antique Dealers League of America, capitalizes on the proximity of the big seasonal paintings auctions in New York. It offers an impressive selection of American and European fine arts alongside the decorative specialties of longtime league members, many of whom rarely exhibit at shows.
The league has an able partner in the Art Fair Company, which created the tastefully understated backdrop, a seamless blend of carpeted floors and solid walls painted in fresh, youthful colors. Suspended like mobiles overhead, gauzy panels partially screened the armory’s hangar-like ceiling.
More than 1,300 guests attended the show’s opening night preview party, benefiting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on May 2. Friday’s Arts’ Night Out party rallied 600 young members of 23 leading cultural organizations, from the Morgan Library to Save Venice and El Museo del Barrio.
“We’ve got an excellent show, and dealers are keen to come back even though we had lulls,” said league president Clinton Howell, adding, “Sunday was great.” A specialist in Eighteenth Century English furniture, Howell arrayed a double-back carved mahogany chair settee, $55,000; a set of eight George II chairs, $175,000; and an Anglo-Indian games table, $150,000, against a contemporary botanical mural painting, specially commissioned for the show, by Ann Harris.
Like many exhibitors, Howell also brought moderately priced items meant to appeal to entry and mid-level buyers. “This would have been $65,000 a few years ago,” the New York dealer said of a circa 1770 mahogany tilt top table, $18,500, with fine proportions and carving and a beautifully figured mahogany top.
“We had a wonderful show,” said silver specialist Mark McHugh of Spencer Marks. The Southampton, Mass., dealer ticked off sales of a circa 1820 epergne by London smiths Rebecca Emes and Edward Barnard; a few pieces of American Aesthetic silver, including a rare 1884 Gorham fish serving dish and a Kennard & Jenks basketweave dish; and a Tiffany punch bowl with walrus head handles. It had a design date of 1874 and sold within minutes on opening night.
Old China hand Peter Rosenberg of Vallin Galleries was near the entrance with a deep display of export porcelain. The Wilton, Conn., dealer is better known for pieces in the Chinese taste, which are paradoxically easier to sell but harder to buy as Asian collectors pour into the marketplace. One of Rosenberg’s pieces in the Chinese taste went to a renowned collector of American furniture.
Newly relocated to New York, Chinese furniture authority Nicholas Grindley arrayed two Indian carved ivory figures of Brahman bulls and a pair of large Qing dynasty hongmu square stools, along with such curiosities as a forged Japanese iron seaweed gatherer and an Eighteenth Century calligraphy-decorated paperweight.
League stalwarts and honorary board members Leon Dalva and George Subkoff also took part. Dalva Brothers, the New York dealers in classical French decorative arts, presented art and objects with royal connections. One much talked about piece was a carved and painted child’s sleigh fashioned as a winged dragon with dolphin supports. Embellished with the crossed letters “L,” it may have been made for the dauphin by Jean Berain.
“I bought one in Connecticut and found the other in Texas,” Subkoff said of a pair of mid-Nineteenth Century English terrestrial and celestial globes, $75,000, with carved tripod bases by Thomas Malby and Son, circa 1850‶0. The Westport, Conn., dealer rounded out his densely packed display with a Connecticut cherry serpentine front chest of drawers, $25,000, and a gilded convex eagle mirror, $25,000, made in Albany, N.Y., circa 1810′0. The mirror descended in the Livingston family.
One of a handful of Twentieth Century design specialists, Milord Antiques of Montreal made a youthful statement with Venini glass, Max Ingrand for Fontana sconces, ceramics by Marcello Fantoni and furniture by Philip and Kelvin Laverne.
The Spring Show NYC opened its doors this year to overseas exhibitors. One newcomer was Piacenti Art Gallery of London, which unveiled Domenica Fetti’s early Seventeenth Century canvas depicting a rare subject, “The Young David Gathering Stones for His Slingshot.”
At the other end of the dateline, London’s MacConnal-Mason Gallery emphasized Modernist British painting, mounting mid- to late Twentieth Century works by Ivon Hitchins, Jankel Adler and Bridget Riley on its outside wall near the Armory’s entrance.
American art was a strong suit. New York and Connecticut dealer Thomas Colville featured Robert Frederick Blum’s small oil study for “The Ameya,” $250,000. Acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1904, the full-size version of this Tokyo street scene hangs in the new American Wing. Colville said that he made a six-figure sale of a painting by Jasper Cropsey after the show’s close.
Gavin Spanierman, Ltd, of New York City led with Willard Metcalf’s “The Golden Screen,” glimmering oil on canvas painted by the American Impressionist artist along the Connecticut River in Old Lyme. The picture won a handful of prizes when it was first exhibited in 1906.
One of the most appealing displays belonged to Bernard Goldberg, who artfully combines American Modernist paintings, drawings and sculpture with decorative arts of the period. John Marin, Oscar Bluemner, Elie Nadelman, Gustav Stickley and Hunt Diederich, among others, predominated.
Spring Show NYC exhibitors generally agree that, with tweaking, their event could be a hit. But, said one participant, “It’s got to refine and upgrade a little and do more to get the message out to a broader public about its real strength, which this year was paintings.
The show is set to return next year to the Park Avenue Armory on April 24′8. For information, 212-879-7558 or www.artantiquedealersleague.org .
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