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ARTNET DESIGN
by Brook S. Mason
 
Just when the world is all a twinkle with Christmas lights, Phillips, de Pury & Co. design specialist Marcus Tremonto, a light artist in his own right, is showcasing his own creative endeavors at the auctioneer’s 15th Street gallery. Ghostly, surreal and with some Bauhaus riffs, these artworks that double as lighting fixtures are composed of electroluminescene, a material that glows in varied colors when stimulated with electricity. Some are akin to flat screen paintings -- a glowing line rendering of a chandelier, for example, on a panel that hangs on the wall -- while others are sculptural and more literally "lamplike."

Tremonto, who began as an artist in the Windy City and headed up Sotheby’s Chicago in the 1990s, says that light is a medium just like paint, pastel and crayon. "My lighting combines science, technology, design and art," he says. The work comes in editions of 10 and is priced at $10,000-$38,000, with interior designers responding favorably to this new turn in the decorative arts.

Especially appealing is 3830, a glowing painting-like object marked with Brice Marden-esque swirls of both pastel and acid hues, which Tremonto likens to a map. Overall, they make Jorge Pardo’s lighting seem downright banal. As technology continues to dominate our professional and personal lives, lighting will be ever more on the gallery scene. 

More bling on the gallery scene
Entire clutches of art galleries are hawking jewelry like never before. While some of those efforts are stylistically tepid at best, Neuhoff Edelman Gallery in the Fuller Building has gone straight to the top. Its exhibition "Picasso to Kenny Scharf," which runs until Jan. 19, 2008, is packed with major league names from Georges Braque and Jean Cocteau to Rolf Sachs

Alexander Calder is front and center with his 1950 necklace of brass spirals, a work that would make any woman feel regal, in modernist terms at least. It’s priced at $400,000, which seems jaw-droppingly costly. Scoot back a few years and Calder brooches could be picked up at the funky downtown Tepper auction house for a mere $300.

But with the Palm Beach-based Norton Museum of Art about to host "Calder Jewelry" this coming February, and with a new book of the same title edited by Alexander S. C. Rower, Calder Foundation director and grandson of the father of mobiles, the market for Calder’s captivating jewelry is bound to soar. He made more than 1,500 pieces of jewelry for art-world cognoscenti and other sophisticates, people like Georgia O’Keeffe and Peggy Guggenheim.

Also at Neuhoff Edelman, don’t miss the Roy Lichtenstein 1965 enamel brooch, which unfortunately is not for sale, nor is a Salvador Dalí pin of ruby red lips. There’s a Max Ernst 1959 devil pendant in gold for $150,000. 

Further uptown Davis & Langdale is hosting matching exhibitions of paintings by the late Robert M. Kulicke and jewelry by Bessie Jamieson. While a relatively modest blip on the art-world radar as a painter, Kulicke is celebrated for revolutionizing the art of framemaking. He developed the now-classic aluminum welded frame for the Museum of Modern Art way back in 1956 and four years later the Lucite box frame. But he also made exquisite still-life paintings, which are currently on view at the gallery, and he founded a jewelry school. Jamieson now heads that enterprise, the Jewelry Arts Institute located on Broadway in the 70s. 

Her jewelry in hand-hammered 22 karat gold matches his paintings: quiet, restrained and unfussy. Gold hoop earrings cost a mere $550. Prices go up for necklaces with tourmaline beads.

While the show closes this Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, ongoing orders for jewelry can be placed anytime. 

New auction high for Rateau
Art deco furnishings are exceedingly pricey these days. Christie’s New York sold an Armand Rateau bronze chair for $2,001,000 on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2007. Dating from ca. 1919, the chair was made for Manhattan financier George Blumenthal’s pool and had been expected to fetch $600,000-$800,000. At the $500,000 mark, three bidders battled it out.

Composed of artfully arranged bronze shells and links of fish-shaped medallions, the chair has everything going for it. Not only is it impeccably sculptural, but its provenance is blue chip, as Blumenthal was not only a heavyweight on Wall Street, but also president of the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The work bears the Rateau signature.

Speaking further of Christie’s, the firm has re-branded its House Sales as Christie’s Interiors as part of a global marketing campaign. Now London, Paris and New York auctions of furnishings for the interior decorating trade and homeowners are branded "Interiors" ("Interieurs" in Paris).  London is at the forefront with such sales, which are being expanded from 12 auctions annually to 30 for 2008.

Duquettemania
The late California set and stage designer Tony Duquette, an all-around interiors magician and jeweler as well, has been especially in the news recently, thanks to a just-published monograph on his life and work authored by Wendy Goodman and Hutton Wilkinson. The eponymous tome, Tony Duquette (Abrams, $75), is flying off the shelves at the Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street in Manhattan.

Ever historically eclectic, Duquette pulled design motifs from the lavish Russian era of the Tsars, 18th-century English shell grottos, and Jaipur and Bali for what he called his "natural Baroque" look. A designer extraordinaire, Duquette lives on to this day. One index to the lasting nature of his rather marvelous style is the preponderance of coral trees appliquéd on pillows and embroidered on endless cocktail napkins strewn across the country.

"Duquette is a great wakeup call and he resonates today as so many have been inundated with modern, sterile interiors," says Goodman. She believes Duquette’s sensibility and rich sense of color creates an emotional response on the part of the viewer. 

One thing is certain. With the Duquette book out, scores of people are examining their own Duquette furniture, and his prices will almost certainly rise on the auction scene. Even mainstream America is about to get an infusion of Duquette.  Hutton Wilkinson, who worked side by side with Duquette since the age of 17, is developing a line of home furnishings based on original designs for the furniture giant Baker. It will be launched in spring 2008. 

For those who might have missed Duquette’s wonderfully fizzy way with coral, branches, twigs and shells, Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows give a sense of his stylistic glam. The store’s window impresario, David Hoey, has done a brilliant job in recreating the magic of Duquette. No one interested in style should miss these windows.


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.