Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Editor's Choice: The 57th Annual Winter Antiques Show

I do apologize dear readers for the long gap, but again advising has robbed me of time to dedicate to you. That said, over the weekend I had a chance to take-in the 57th Annual Winter Antiques Show at the 7th Regiment Armory. I must say that the robust number of vendors with their diverse goods made me feel that we are indeed turning the corner away from a chilled luxury market. Here is a glimpse of a few things that caught my eye.

These Russian enameled vessels in the booth of A La Vielle Russie were truly stunning and hard to capture in a photograph. The enamel is not backed with metal so they are translucent like drinking out of stained glass windows...if you will. However, the booth also contained a display of Faberge masterworks, one of which truly enticed me.

Some may accuse me of having a taste for the macabre but this serpent-form cane handle is exquisite. It was executed by Faberge's master workman Michel Perchin in smokey quartz, gold and diamonds around 1900. It completely manifests the fin-de-siecle feeling with its heightened interest in symbolism and a flirtation with the occult. It was hauntingly naturalistic, a true masterwork.

This fantastic oddity was nestled in the booth of Aronson Antiquaire amidst an ocean of Delftware garnitures and plaques. While this figure of Atlas looks slightly clumsy to the modern eye one must remember that it was created out of glazed earthenware in 1710. It is amazing that it even survives at all. The dealer noted that this example is one of only three known which would explain the $72,000 price tag.

The Fine Arts Society of London brought this arts and crafts gem along with a display filled with works by Godwin, Pugin, Mackintosh, and Liberty. The table in question was designed by Charles Edward Horton and executed by Lamb of Manchester in 1886. This inlaid-rosewood beauty is very unusual as it has fluid curving lines that show a slant toward organic art nouveau. It almost looks as if it would tip-toe away when no one was looking. The dealer is asking $38,000.

This Phillip Lloyd Powell and Paul Evans walnut, metal and glass wall sculpture was presented in the booth of Lost City Arts. It is not my favorite example of work by Powell and Evans but it is a work you cannot forget. I remember that it was offered at Sotheby's twice and ultimately failed to sell in March of 2009 at an estimate of $20,000-30,000. I always encourage clients to take the time to research and purchase at auction. The work is currently priced at $85,000. The booth also contained the stunning Bertoia sculpture from the Robert Isabell estate that I profiled last year.

I have not always been an adamant fan of folk art but I have always been intrigued by the recontextualization of a "found object" within a modern setting. This leaping stag weathervane in the booth of Giampietro really caught my eye because it was at once graphic and yet sculptural. Perhaps it is the stark gallery presentation, but the work has a dynamism that demands attention. The weathervane is attributed to Cushing & White of Watham, Massachusetts and dates to 1880. Giampietro is asking $45,000.

Just when you think you know a subject completely something comes along to reignite your curiosity. This arts and crafts easy chair offered in the booth of Associated Artists, LLC is apparently the work of Tiffany Studios (and priced at $75,000). While most are familiar with the lamps and windows of Tiffany Studios, it has only been in the last two decades that more focus has shifted to their furniture production. Associated Artists always does a great job with their presentation as evidenced by the printed scrim behind the chair showing the model in a 19th century engraving. It was a great touch. The booth included two other monumental chairs attributed to Tiffany Studios and an imposing aesthetic movement cabinet by Herter Brothers.

This last object was nestled in the booth of the incomparable Maison Gerard . Now this Louis XVI style carved gilt wood wall-light may appear traditional but it is the work of one of my art deco favorites, Armand-Albert Rateau. Most are familiar with Rateau's multi-million dollar works in bronze but his repertoire also included carved furnishings in more staid 18th century styles. This wall-light is one of a pair that came out of a Greek shipping tycoon's Paris apartment and are of imposing scale (nearly three feet tall).

According to those working the floor the fair has been robustly attended and many booths were fortunate enough to have red "sold" dots next to a few of their pieces. This bodes well for the market as we move further and further from the bust of 2008.