Pioneering architectural photographer Ezra Stoller (1915-2004) garnered an A-list clientele that included Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Paul Rudolph and Richard Meier. It is through Stoller’s photography that entire generations came to know icons of 20th century design, ranging from Saarinen’s TWA Terminal to Wright’s FallingWater. Even so, Stoller has been relatively overlooked in the art world. That is until now, as Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea has begun the year with a survey of his photographs, on view Jan. 6-Feb. 12, 2011.
"The photographs are as important as the architectural landmarks themselves," says Milo, who represents the Stoller estate. Done shortly after the buildings were completed, Stoller’s photographs incorporate the culture of the day, right down to fishtailed sedans. Stoller’s gelatin silver prints spotlight not only midcentury modern masterpieces but also a number of smaller commissions as well as private homes and guesthouses by Marcel Breuer, Rudolph and Walter Gropius.
"Stoller’s work took architectural photography to a new place and transcended mere documenting of buildings," says San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator Henry Urbach. "Stoller understood the abstraction of modern space and captured the glamour of metropolitan life," he says.
Architects lionized Stoller for his ability to capture their buildings with a certain austere majesty. In fact, Stoller achieved the distinction of being the first photographer awarded the AIA Gold Medal. Still, it wasn’t until Stoller was 65, in 1980, that he had his first gallery show, when Manhattan dealer Max Protetch fêted the photographer with a solo exhibition. While Stoller is represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Whitney Museum, other institutions have not welcomed him into their collections, even those with substantial design holdings. For example, MoMA has not a single Stoller in their holdings, reports Milo.
But Yale University Press is soon to publish a book on Stoller, suggesting that it’s only a matter of time before he gains the attention he deserves.
Peter Marino does Dior
The latest nexus of art, design and fashion is the newly reopened Dior flagship at 57th Street and Madison Avenue, which may as well be devoted to art and design as well as couture. There, architect Peter Marino, tapped early on by Andy Warhol for commissions and now known for his chic designs of both Chanel boutiques and the Louis Vuitton emporium in London (as well as his own art collection, which is showcased in "Beauty & Power: Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Peter Marino Collection" at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Ca.), has turned his attention to the Dior store’s 5,000-square-foot interiors. Marino’s singular choice of contemporary designers and artists for the Dior flagship is certain to enhance their careers.
His new design incorporates elements of the Paris Dior salon, such as boiserie, a curving white marble staircase and French ébeniste staples like the guéridon. Marino has brought in Paris-based filmmaker Yorame Mevorach to program the popping video panels lining the staircase. Vids of Dior models inject a touch of glamour and color. The staircase alone is worth the visit; it’s bound to be copied.
Commissions abound and Claude Lalanne is front and center with a custom Ginkgo bench in silvered bronze. Marino turned to the New York artist Rob Wynne, fast becoming a design-world star for his fluid mirror-glass installations, who provided works such as the dripping pink "Radiant" glass letters affixed to a mirror. The store features a total of four Wynne installations. Also upstairs is a Timothy Horn sculpture, inspired by Dior jewelry and blown up to gargantuan portions. Pearl-drop earrings have never looked like tsunami waves.
Frames of reference at Lowy
Taking advantage of the collectors who are in town for the Winter Antiques Show, Jan. 21-30, 2011, Julius Lowy Frame & Restoring Company is presenting "A Change of Taste: From the Gilded Age to the Craftsman Aesthetic," dedicated to American frames from late-19th-century’s Stanford White designs through the early 20th-century Arts and Crafts examples. A total of 78 period frames are featured at Lowy’s Upper East Side premises.
Dating from the 1880s through the 1920s, the frames reveal this country’s changing taste, which shifted from the 19th-century penchant for mass-produced ornamentation to the Arts and Crafts Movement’s emphasis on handmade artistry and craftsmanship.
Despite the exacting skills of their carvers and gilders, frames have been relatively underappreciated. "It’s only been over the past 25 years that frames have come into their own," says Larry Shar, who heads up the 104-year-old Lowy.
The firm has seen an explosion of interest of late, with business shooting up 300 percent. One index to the demand is prices for frames by architect Stanford White. Today, they range from $35,000 right up to $300,000.
Furniture from recycling
The Industry Gallery in Washington, D.C., is taking a giant step towards sustainability by backing the Belgium-born, Italy-based artist Jens Praet, who takes magazines and recycles them into, well, consoles and tables. Opening Jan. 15, 2011, the exhibition "Fossilized" includes furniture made from shredded copies of Art in America, Capitol File, Details, Fast Company and the Robb Report, the paper remnants mixed with clear resin to create five different designs. In total, they’re called the Shredded Collection.
The work grew out of the designer’s concern about the vast amounts of paper discarded annually, says Craig Appelbaum, who heads up Industry. "His response is clever, elegant and entrepreneurial, and it’s both an inspiration and directive for other designers to come up with similarly original and resourceful solutions," says Appelbaum.
Praet, who studied at the prestigious Dutch Eindhoven Academy, hand-forms his consoles, benches and tables. Each work is done in an edition of 12. Although pulp is the material of choice, prices are hardly cheap. His pieces cost from $3,000 to $15,000 for a large table. Clients can also select a design made from just plain shredded documents.
BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.