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Artnet Design


by Brook S. Mason
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The most unlikely fair duo to date has to be the suave Parisian Patrick Perrin and Park Avenue Armory fair vet Sandy Smith, best known for the Outsider Art Fair, Works on Paper and New York International Antiquarian Book Fair. Those Franco-American buddies have partnered to launch the inaugural Pavilion of Art and Design New York, which debuts Nov. 11-14, 2011, at the Park Avenue Armory.

“It will be the best design show in the country,” said Smith. Meg Wendy of the Wendy Shows had originally joined hands with Perrin to produce a new design fair in New York, but that business arrangement ended up in litigation.

Perrin and Smith have pulled off a coup in these challenging economic times by roping in top drawer dealers such as L&M Arts, Galerie Vallois and L’Arc en Seine, all Paris Biennale stalwarts. Only three days ago, San Francisco art dealer John Berggruen signed on. Considering that Brian and Anna Haughton were forced to scuttle their International Art + Design Fair, which ran 1999-2008, Perrin and Smith have a hit on their hands.

The guest list for the opening night dinner at the Mark Hotel already touts art world glitterati like Jacqueline Schnabel, Creative Time director Anne Pasternak and curator Neville Wakefield.

Mad Ave art move
Aby Rosen is redeveloping the ground floor of the legendary Carlyle Galleries Building (where Gagosian Gallery is tenant upstairs) and that has led to changes. Gogo had to close his store, and now Street Art dealer Stephan Keszler has moved his Manhattan operation across the street and down a few blocks, to the row of brownstones adjacent to the Whitney Museum of American Art (sold by the museum a year ago for a reported $100 million to real estate investor Daniel E. Straus).

Keszler has taken up roost in the former Calypso boutique and features confections by Peter Anton, Banksy and Russell Young, among others. “So far, we’ve sold a number of the Peter Anton mixed-media wall-sculptures of chocolates and Banksy graffiti works at way over $50,000 each,” said Nicole Benson, gallery director.

And no need to start your own restaurant for lunch, like the pioneering Chelsea art dealers did so many years ago. Next door is Eli’s Essentials, Eli Zabar’s newest eaterie, really a much-needed coffee spot where art dealer and clients can converge.

A La Viellie Roboterie?
Leave it to the Schaffer family, heirs to the 160-year-old A La Vieille Russie, located at the corner of Central Park on Fifth Avenue smack dab next door to the Sherry Netherland Hotel, to sport the nation’s most enticing decorative arts show.

“Mechanical Wonders: The Sandoz Collection,” Oct. 26-Nov. 26, 201, is packed with 70 18th- and 19th-century Swiss as well as French automatons (from the Greek, “acting of itself,” meaning mechanical objets, really) along with timepieces. The Russian crown jeweler Fabergé is well represented.

This not to be missed show reveals the extraordinary artistry of centuries past. A 1901 enameled gold peacock nestled in a multi-branch gold tree both encased in a rock crystal egg. The peacock when set in motion splays its plumage, struts, cavorts and even twists its sinuous neck.

Peter Schaffer, ALVR vice president, has cleverly commissioned six videos of the automations, which include a swimming swan set on massive chunk of aquamarine, a cunning mouse encrusted with pearl that actually sits up, and a rather creepy Ethiopian caterpillar set with diamonds and turquoises. That kind of movement really places these art works in the four-dimensional category.

“This collection has not been shown outside Switzerland in over half a century,” said ALVR director Mark Schaffer, “and the chances of their being seen again in their entirety here is totally nil.”

The late Maurice Sandoz (1892-1958), a chemist who sold his firm to Novartis, is a person of merit far beyond his collecting prowess. He authored two books with Salvador Dali, and they are on display as well.

Daphne Guinness, high priestess
Fashion muse and designer Daphne Guinness was feted last week at the Fashion Institute of Technology, which is hosting a show of her outfits titled, logically enough, “Daphne Guinness,” Sept. 16, 2011-Jan. 7, 2012, with a symposium, titled “Fashion Icons and Insiders.” Herewith, a few of that Brit style-setter’s insights.

The inspiration for her predilection for black stovepipe pants suits: “The fact that I didn’t go to Eton.”

“I like the idea of being George Sand, kind of creative, slightly androgynous."

On her gold armor glove: “That glove took five years and Lee [the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen] said, ‘When is that f-ing glove going to be finished’.”

“Getting gold chain mail made is really, really hard.”

On David LaChapelle photo shoot: “I’m interested in waterproof clothes,” in reference to the six hours she spent treading water in a tank for the L.A. photographer.

For those who can’t make the exhibition, the book by the same title, Daphne Guinness, (Yale, 2011, $45), penned by Valerie Steele as well as Guinness herself, is well worth the investment. Dynamite photographs.

BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.