Published: November 6, 2007
The largest and certainly one of the most eclectic of Stella Show Mgmt Co.’s events at the 26th Street Armory, The Modern Show opened to an appreciative crowd on Friday, October 12, for a three-day run. Filled with colorful objects that ranged in date from the 1920s to the 1990s, the display is fun-filled and lively.
With a roster of 92 dealers, this outing has been one of the largest Modern Shows in memory. The show is large enough to offer something to satisfy the collecting desires of most fans that collect Modern.
The Modern Show is a feisty event, perhaps one of the most popular to take place at the downtown facility. Encompassing many genres, merchandise around the floor typically ranges from post-Depression Moderne to serious Midcentury Modern design. Items that seem to bring customers back on a regular basis include the fun faces of Fornasetti, selections of Eames furniture, a grand assortment of Italian art glass and pottery, sparkling jewelry, both faux and real, and a broad section of art that includes everything from Cubist to photography, as well as sculpture.
Opening to the public at 11 on Friday morning, The Modern Show had a moderate-sized crowd awaiting entry, with the line filling the foyer of the polished armory. As the morning wore on, attendance swelled and aisles inside the cavernous hall became filled with a variety of buyers that included designers, decorators, dealers and collectors. Overall, a strong gate was reported by management throughout the course of the show.
Shoppers, apparently hungry for the return of the antiques show season in Manhattan after a summer virtually void of events, busied themselves snapping up merchandise from booths at a brisk pace.
Healthy sales were reported by many of the dealers, including Matthew Burkholz, a New York State who has relocated his business to the chic and Twentieth Century-oriented antiques community of Palm Springs, Calif. Now doing business as Rt 66 West, Burkholz was ecstatic.
“I just bought a 1,000-piece collection of costume jewelry,” stated the dealer who has been known for years as both an author and specialist in Bakelite jewelry. Although still featuring a grand selection of the colorful spotted and striped Bakelite bracelets, bangles and pins, Burkholz was busy spotlighting the costume pieces in front of an appreciative crowd.
“This lady traveled to Europe every year and she came back with the most impressive assortment of bodacious bangles that you can imagine. Always top quality and always by designers like Channel and Dior,” he said, motioning toward the sparkling assortment. Ladies attending the show were equally enthused and sales for the dealer were brisk.
Leah Gordon offered a select assortment of Arts and Crafts pottery, including a nice Grueby vase in a matte green glaze and a Teco buttress vase in a light matte glaze. It was, however, her selection of silver jewelry that was attracting the most attention. From an entirely different period than the costume variety offered by Burkholz, Gordon displayed a prime selection of jewelry from the Taxco area and other regions of Mexico. Spratling pieces are custom fare among her assortment; however, the display was also marked by a stylish necklace and bracelet with amethyst and aubisson stones by Antonio, and numerous pieces by Hector Aguilar.
Gordon also offered some unusual and extremely graphic pieces of jewelry by Catherine Noll, whose grandfather, Alexander, was a period Art Deco furniture maker in Paris. Her brushed clear acrylic necklace, combined with chromed plastic and ebony made for a powerful statement. An ebony and mother-of-pearl brooch by Alexander Noll was displayed nearby.
A wonderful Art Deco sculpture with sweeping lines in the form of two women gathering wheat was featured at Arlene Berman Fine Art, New York City. The unusual piece, which doubled as a wooden lamp base, was by Heifetz and was stickered $6,000. Paintings by the likes of WPA artists George Schreiber, Philip Reisman and Walter Gardner were offered by Berman, along with “Harlem River Front” by Saul Kovner, circa 1939, and “Afternoon in Palisades Park” by Paul Ortlip, circa 1926.
An interesting pair of chairs with stylized molded backs that said “Hello” were featured in the stand of J. Lohmann Gallery. With the seat proclaiming “there,” the chairs, circa 1979 and designed by Jeremy Harvey and manufactured by Artifort, were appropriately named the “Hello There” chairs. An unusual copper rod sculpture with brazed silver was another of the featured items. Made this year, the piece by Sven Herrmann was titled “Squaring a Circle.” Modernist silver was also among the dealer’s offerings, with a carafe designed by Michele de Lucchi, circa 1980, having a strong futuristic look with bright yellow inverted cone feet, a blue quarter round handle and a red knob on top.
One of the more noticeable pieces of furniture to grace the floor was a rare Paul Frankl dining room table with ten accompanying chairs. Displayed in the booth of Coral Gables, Fla., dealer Modernism Gallery, the black lacquered set with red edging and chrome highlights was said to be a one-of-a-kind commission for Frankl’s La Jolla project. The set was priced at $25,000.
A Mies Van der Rohe daybed was another item attracting attention from shoppers. Seen in the booth of Susan and Rod Bartha, Riverwoods, Ill, the piece was cataloged as “100 percent original and in pristine condition,” even retaining the original label. A pair of wrought iron chairs from Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, circa 1930, were also among the offerings, decorated with cutout animals forming the back, including elephants, horses and peacocks.
Colorful Awaji pottery from the Japanese island of the same name was displayed by Wilton Conn., dealer Cannondale Antiques. Made between 1830 and 1939, many of the pieces are similar in form to pots produced in American and Europe, although the brilliant monochromatic colors and crackled glazes set them apart. Prices, according to the dealer, ranged from $200 to $2,000.
Francis Frost, New Preston, Conn., combined a stylish selection of Modernist sculpture with art to present an eye-pleasing display. “Quarter Rounds,” a set of 16 original lithograph sheets by Norman Carlberg, from an edition of ten, found a buyer within moments of the show opening to the public. The John Cunningham sculpture, “Structure,” a monolithic form constructed of wood, metal and polyester, $10,000, was also attracting attention.
Dealer, manager of the River Stone Arts in Haverstraw, N.Y., and a promoter of numerous shows throughout New York State, Martin Greenstein was among the exhibitors. His stylish booth was built around a midcentury console designed with a surface comprised of bronze relief-encrusted organic motif panels. The unusual piece served as a platform for numerous period objects ranging from a Romanesque torso figure to a Bertoia wind chime and an assortment of Tsrak pottery. Displayed above the console was a fabric wall hanging that echoed the form of the console.
Despite rumors regarding the possible closure of the armory to public events beginning in 2008 due to troop movements and training schedules, The Modern Show was unaffected by the hive of activity among the uniformed enlisted personnel in the facility. Irene Stella has since announced that the show dates for the 26th Street Armory have been confirmed for the January Americana Week show, commonly known as The Other Armory Show. The Pier Americana Show, also managed by Stella Management and regularly scheduled as part of Americana Week, has already been canceled due to construction delays there.
The November Stella Pier Antiques Show and “Others” will take place November 17 and 18 at Piers 94 and 92, respectively. For further information, 212-255-0020 or www.stellashows.com .
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