Published: October 28, 2003
– The 26th Street Armory came alive over the weekend of October 10, with an antiques show that continually proves itself to be near and dear to the hearts of chic Manhattanites. The Modern Show, presented by Stella Show Mgmt. Co., featured more than 80 dealers offering up a wide variety of materials ranging from select pieces of Italian Glass to the trendiest examples of jewelry, and from traditional Art Deco furnishings to stunning Twentieth Century works of art. The periods from Deco to Modern are appealingly defined within this show, much to the delight of the large crowds that attend the popular event.
This year’s show took on a new twist as a benefit preview party for The Art Deco Society of New York was hosted. Dubbed a “hard hat” preview, it was as much of an early buying event as it was a preview party. Dealers had the option of having their booths completed as the doors opened to the public, or in the “hard hat” construction theme, many of them were still assembling their booths as patrons looked on awaiting goodies to be pulled from boxes and moved to shelves or cases. Naturally a full selection of libations kept the crowd happy as well. The Art Deco Society reported its largest turnout to date and Stella Management confirmed that it was a highly successful venture for both the society and a crowd that was buying.
While many of the participating dealers only make the trip from downtown, Modern also attracts a host of specialty dealers from around the country with numerous in attendance from Chicago and from as far as Los Angeles.
The show is what you make it and a wide variety of interests can be satisfied ranging from quality artwork offered by Massachusetts dealer Ernest Kramer to extraordinary Italian glass offered by Myers Huffman of Los Angeles. Twentieth Century dealer George Gilpin of Manhattan offered a prime assortment of 50s furniture and ModBag of Chicago gave the ladies with style a chance to make a splash with either a sporty figural or novelty handbag.
Wellesley, Mass., dealer Ernest Kramer used the hard hat setup time to continue to hang a remarkable selection of prints on the walls of his booth. Pieces attracting serious attention included a Thomas Hart Benton lithograph entitled “Jesse James,” circa 1936, which was from an edition of 100. Other images catching the eyes of collectors included an Edward Hopper etching entitled “Night Shadows,” a Martin Lewis drypoint, “5th Avenue Bridge,” and an extremely rare Louis Lozowick “Mural Study of Lower Manhattan” from an extremely limited edition of ten.
The other Nelson desk appeared in the booth of Chicago dealer Modern Times, along with a nice pair of chairs by Verner Panton. While the majority of Modern Times’s booth was dedicated to designer furniture, one wall was lined with showcases that showcased the finest in figural and novelty handbags from the 1930s through the 1970s. Standouts in the collection included a rare bag in the shape of a Deco-style telephone made in Paris in the 1930s. A modern variation of the phone bag was also displayed as a black patent leather example from the 1970s that used the receiver as the handbag’s handle was offered. Other bags of interest included a rare artist’s palate believed to have been made in the Chicago area in the 1950s, a red felt “sewing” bag with a huge safety pin handle and a selection of sculptural handbags in simple modern rectangular forms that used a drawer system and were patented by Biemen-Davis.
The booth of Matthew Burkholz, Route 66 Antiques, Chatham, N.Y., is another spot at The Modern Show that is sure to be fun. Dazzling and colorful Bakelite bracelets and jewelry, and even a radio or two, abound with rdf_Descriptions ranging from extremely rare to visually appealing. This year Burkholz offered what he termed “the current craze” in the jewelry market, rolled pressed celluloid bracelets that were manufactured in Japan in the 1920s, 1940s and 1960s.
Janet Drucker and her son Bill continually set the mark for quality Georg Jensen silver; with the display they presented this year, however, they once again raised the bar. Featured in the booth among the plethora of rare Jensen candlesticks, hollowware and flatware was a rare coffee and tea service designed by Johan Rhode in the disc motif with sweeping carved ebony and silver handles. The set consisted of a coffeepot, teapot, open sugar and creamer and, according to the dealer, was a set that they “had never had before in 24 years.”
Leah Gordon is another dealer renown for her selection of silver, Jensen included, although much of her offering is in the form of jewelry, primarily exquisite designs from Taxco, especially the shop of Spratling. Featured in her booth was a wonderful pair of silver beakers by French smith Jean Puiforcat from his very desirable Mexican period. The dealer commented that Puiforcat worked in Mexico during World War II while escaping the carnage in his French homeland. Other prime silver offerings included a Hector Aguilar teapot, a William Hutton enameled silver picture frame, and pottery included a rare George Ohr pot and several Picasso vases and pitchers.
Another Los Angeles dealer to make a big splash at the show was Reform who exhibited a booth filled to the brim with California designs. At the forefront of the booth were a pair of large tubular chrome chairs with white leather sling seats and backs that were designed by Byron Bother for the California Design show in 1971. Another of the interesting features were two large pottery sculptures by Stan Bitters, circa 1962, that are commonly referred to a “Potato People.”
Stella’s The Modern Show kicked off a series of Twentieth Century shows including The Modern Show 1890-1970 in Winetka, Ill., opening on November 7, and Modernism in New York City starting its run on November 13.
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