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ARTNET DESIGN
by Brook S. Mason
 
Beleaguered art dealer Larry Salander, whose Salander-O’Reilly Galleries on East 71st Street on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side has been padlocked by State Supreme Court justice Richard B. Lowe amid a flurry of lawsuits claiming fraud, is not only a purveyor of Old Master paintings but also antiques. But now his website, www.salanderdecorativearts.com, is defunct. Until recently, the site offered everything for the baronial home from period European paneling and mantels (a total of 23 were on offer) along with Austrian parquet floors and 19th-century garden ornament. It was a mixed bag with "antique" kilim pillows at $50 each. Calls to Salander’s antiques division were not returned.

Deco goes Pop
With Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg firmly enshrined in the Pop Art pantheon, the 20th-century design world can now claim its own artist-sculptor-ebeniste in that genre. He’s Parisian Yonel Lebovici (1937-1998) and Maison Gerard is showcasing the largest display of his oeuvre ever. On view are 60 examples spanning 20 years.

Working in metal, wood and glass, Yonel transformed household items like flashlights, iron and electric plugs into beguiling furniture and lighting. In his 1985 Fer à Repasser, an oversized steam iron turned upside down forms a table, while his 1984 Metronome is a space-age-looking table lamp. The table is priced at $195,000 and the lamp costs $120,000.

With rocker Mick Jagger, fashion designer Pierre Cardin and architect Peter Marino already owning a Lebovici or two, one thing is certain, this artist’s name is bound to shine even more brightly.

The Yonel Lebovici exhibition remains on view through Nov. 20, 2007, at Maison Gerard, 124 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10003

Fast-forward Mallett
Mallett, purveyors of the gilt-edged 18th-century English antiques look, has zoomed into the 20th-century with rather spectacular results. They cunningly swooped up the chic stainless steel furniture of Paris Match photographer Willy Rizzo, now 84. Back in the ‘70s, when Rizzo wasn’t snapping European royalty, pop stars and screen sirens, he turned to designing furniture, backgammon tables and the like. In this country, socialite C.Z. Guest played an instrumental role in promoting his designs. Since then his work, while treasured by the cognoscenti, has been a bit under the radar.

That all changed when the London-based Mallett exhibited Rizzo images and furniture at the firm’s Madison Avenue outpost, a block south of the Whitney Museum. The exhibition practically sold out in a nanosecond -- well, 24 examples sold in a single week, according to Mallett New York president Henry Neville.

Prices are surprisingly modest. A pair of red lacquer commodes sold for $47,000. Plus, Rizzo’s gleaming stainless steel lamps are a must-buy.

Now Mallet is taking Rizzo on the road and showcasing the remaining Rizzo wares at the space of fashion retailer Paul Smith in London, Nov. 13-24, 2007. Paul Smith is at 9 Albemarle Street.

A Medieval moment
Just when churches are suffering dwindling attendance, collecting art dating back to the Middle Ages is having a renaissance of sorts right here in Manhattan. London dealer Sam Fogg, who specializes in works of art from that period, longtime New York dealer Tony Blumka, and Florian Eitle-Böhler of the Munich-based gallery Julius Böhler, all teamed up to treat New Yorkers to two comprehensive exhibitions.

Aquamaniles (those medieval bronze ewers that were used for washing at the table), velvet royal textiles (think Isabella of Castile, Queen of Spain) and stained glass plucked from a cathedral -- this was the stuff of Fogg’s rather brilliant show, "Art of the Middle Ages," at the Alexander Gallery at 942 Madison Avenue in New York. His blitz of sales tells how the Dark Ages are resonating with a new batch of collectors.

A European client snapped up a newly discovered Anglo-Saxon casket dating from around 800 AD. Constructed of oak and covered with gilded copper and silver, the casket went for over $2 million.

This niche market demonstrates a number of new shifts, with hedge funders heading to ivories, stained glass and religious sculpture. Fogg says 50 percent of his major collectors are hedge funders. Plus this area of religious art is no longer dominated by the mature crowd, 50 and over. Five years ago, Fogg had not a single client aged 35-50; now, he has 12.

Blumka, meanwhile, is exhibiting his sixth installment of "Collecting Treasures of the Past," featuring some 55 works of art spanning the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque periods. Among the choice items is a French champlevé (with enamels poured into grooves engraved on the surface and then highly polished) on copper casket, ca. 1200. It’s a treasure. "Collecting Treasures" remains on view through today -- (blame my editor!) -- at Blumka Gallery at 209 East 72nd Street.

Paul Evans renaissance
For a Paul Evans moment, take in the newly trimmed up Royalton Hotel, long the cafeteria of choice for the Condé Nast style set, which just held a launch party this past Thursday evening. Inside the lobby of that Morgan Hotels Group-run establishment, there’s a veritable homage to Evans. Hipster designers Roman and Williams created a monumental cast-bronze double-faced fireplace based on Evans’ massive sculpted front case pieces.

"We wanted to create something to draw people in, and Paul Evans is perfect for that," says Robin Standefer, Roman and Williams’ principal. She just happens to own some of Evans furnishings. Further riffs on Evans in the hotel lobby are chunky, riveted metal club chairs. Eyeing such fare were bold-face art-world figures like artist John Currin. The Royalton Hotel is located at 44 West 44th Street in Manhattan.

A la Ralph
Well known for packaging and polishing an American version of the country house look, fashion retailer Ralph Lauren has gone one step further. He’s collected images of his fashions, from New England purebreds to Western ranges, along with his other predilections like minor brown furniture, blue-and-white soldier vases and odd silver trophies -- all between the covers of a book.

In marking his 40th anniversary of spinning out the all-American look, this icon penned Ralph Lauren (Rizzoli, $135.). The stylish tome is packed with a whooping 750 photos and illustrations fleshing out his life story, beginning with his early years.

Ever the salesman, Lauren is also introducing a deluxe edition. Its slipcase is alligator (natch) pressed calf and costs $400. That particular tome just might become a collector’s item and end up on the block in a decade or two.


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



 




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