Move over Chelsea
Manhattan has a new design district emerging just north of SoHo, turning the few short blocks of Bond Street, the still-cobblestoned and rather tattered industrial area (it abuts the famous Bowery), into a more stylish locale. Lobel Modern opened there just weeks ago. "We’ve more than doubled our gallery in size," says Evan Lobel, who moved his premises to 39 Bond from West 18th Street. Lobel features furnishings dating from the 1940s to the ‘80s by Edward Wormley, Tommi Parzinger, Harvey Probber and Paul Evans, and also boasts a strong representation of designs by Karl Springer.
Springer’s rattlesnake, ostrich, goat, hippopotamus and calfskin leather tables are right in sync with fashion’s current predilection for pricey, precious skins. "Sales of Springer have shot up 20 times since five years ago," says Lobel, who is writing a book on the Manhattan designer best known for his custom work. Back in the ‘60s, Springer fans included Jackie O and Frank Sinatra. Now, prices for Springer can run from $2,000 on up to $35,000.
Sculptures by Curtis Jeré (a firm consisting of two California jeweler-sculptors who turned out thousands of examples) are another hot item for Lobel.
Other design galleries near Lobel include 1950, Alan Moss and Todd Merrill. With Bond Street anchored by a soon-to-open residential project by starchitects Herzog and de Meuron as well as one by Manhattan architect Deborah Berke, who designed Marianne Boesky’s new gallery-cum-residence in Chelsea, this area is bound to garner even more design and art dealers.
Gathering plenty of Moss
Soho contemporary design retailer Murray Moss is going bi-coastal while revving up his Greene Street gallery. He opens a Los Angeles outpost at the end of June. Then on May 19, 2007, his redesigned Manhattan space debuts with one entire gallery devoted to Moroso, the Italian furniture retailer.
Some of his contemporary furniture is striking particularly timely notes. One example is Maarten Baas’ clay furniture in kindergarten colors like bright red and yellow emphasizing the current craze for the handmade look. Costly? Yes, and practically in the Chippendale league. A dining room table is priced $35,000.
Then, insects are the motif the furnishings from floor lamps to capacious commodes by Studio Job launched by Job Smeets, graduate of the hipster Dutch Design Academy Eindhoven. The furniture is crafted of wood in traditional forms, but the twist is the painted graphics on the papier-mâché wrapping the traditional forms. Insects from beetles to flies and other creepy crawlies appear to squirm across the pristine white lamps and chests. A huge cupboard is $17,000.
With Moss co-sponsoring an exhibition of Studio Job in conjunction with the Groninger Museum in Milan a few weeks ago, Job’s quirky take on home furnishings now rate the museum seal of approval.
Ariane Dandois moves on
The doyenne of Paris antiques dealers, Ariane Dandois, is shuttering her gallery on the stylish Place de Beauvois in May and, after years of rumors, sending reams of her Neo-Classical, Empire and Italian 19th-century painted antiques to the auction block. On Oct. 25-26, 2007, Sotheby’s hammers down her antiques while Christie’s has snared her Indian and Southeast Asian art collection, which is being sold in September during Asian art week.
Sotheby’s sale includes more than 800 lots and is expected to fetch $14 million-$18 million. Back in the ‘80s, Dandois’s Empire antiques trimmed up with gleaming ormolu caught the eye of Wall Street raider Henry Kravis. It will be interesting to see to what degree newly rich hedge-fund honchos snap up that look at Sotheby’s auction.
Dandois is building a massive contemporary photography collection with her daughter Ondine, and has taken an apartment in midtown Manhattan. "I was working 15 hours a day and now I will live here six months of the year," she says. Dandois has already been asked by clients to act as an art advisor.
Shanghai could be the newest art fair destination with Brussels paintings dealer Maximin Berko, 28, launching the Shanghai Fine Jewellery and Art Fair, Oct. 13-21, 2007, at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. "China has an economy that’s booming like never before," says Berko, who moved to Shanghai in 2001 to complete graduate studies in Chinese art for the Sorbonne and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
"I am seeing a growing demand for Western paintings and sculpture on the part of the Chinese as they seek art as a means to securing their status," says Berko. He plans a roster of 58 dealers with 23 specializing in antiques and antiquities, 12 jewelers and the balance in modern and contemporary art. To date, the Asian art dealer Gisele Cröes of Brussels, silver specialist Marks of London and the heavily international Marlborough Gallery have signed on.
"It’s perfectly logical to include jewelers, as they usually bring the biggest clients to art fairs," says Berko. Stay tuned for more dealers participating in this new venture. For more info, see www.sfjaf.com
Bling and the fine arts
With the venerable London Old Masters gallery Colnaghi now featuring new jewelry by the self-taught German goldsmith Otto Jakob (who also studied painting under Georg Baselitz) in its Old Bond Street premises, clearly more traditional dealers are tuning into gems and glitter. Already sales have been brisk for Jakob crosses and necklaces. "His work is more Grimms Fairy Tales than Beatrix Potter," says Katrin Bellinger of Jakob, who frequently references the grotesque.
Colnaghi’s Otto Jakob exhibition closes May 5, 2007. Of the dealer’s first venture into bling, Bellinger says, "You can't just sit here on Old Bond Street."
Over here in New York, the world of jewelry is making inroads into the fine arts as well. Avenue magazine founder Judy Price ratcheted up her visibility and raised eyebrows in the haute art world with her launch a few years back of the National Jewelry Institute. Now, her latest show, "Lorenz Baümer: The Creative Process of a Jeweller," on view at the Forbes Gallery, Apr. 19-June 16, 2007, also edged into view on the Upper East Side, however briefly. Didier Aaron, Inc., long dedicated to dix-huitième glittering gilt furniture and paintings by the likes of Hubert Robert on both sides of the pond, had a special one-night reception highlighting the creations of that Place Vendôme jeweler in his gallery off Madison Avenue.
Examples of Lorenz Baümer jewelry include skull-shaped rings with white and black pavé diamonds, watches with Daguerreotype faces and "vegetable" bracelets a twinkle with red jasper tomatoes and jade green peppers. "Our clients are the same as his," says Hervé Aaron, who heads up the gallery and serves on the National Jewelry Institute board.
Didier Aaron is not, however, actually handling Baümer’s baubles. For that, Manhattanites can head to Fred Leighton on Madison Avenue, beginning May 17.
With the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston just appointing Yvonne Markowitz as the first curator of jewelry at any U.S. museum, we can probably expect more bling both on the museum and the gallery scene.
Dining in a Glass House
The late architect Philip Johnson’s Glass House, nestled in his 47-acre estate in New Canaan, Conn., is finally open to the public as a National Trust for Historic Preservation property. But grab tour tickets now as visits to that architectural icon are fast becoming booked solid.
For those preferring a more personal look at that residence, ponying up $50,000 secures dinner for 30 in the iconic house, while $25,000 gets you a drinks party. Such events are more than 50 percent booked. For details, see www.philipjohnsonglasshouse.org
Grosvenor gets new
At 73 years old, London’s Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair, June 14-20, 2007, the site where legions of American aristocracy (the Paleys, Kennedys and Firestones, for instance) shopped for predictable brown furniture, is finally putting on a new guise. Interior designer David Bentheim, who is famed for re-doing the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, is fine-tuning the antiques fest, held in the Grosvenor House Hotel’s cavernous subterranean ballroom, by injecting a minimalist look derived from de Stijl and Mondrian.
Shoppers can expect stands in bright, primary colors with high-tech lighting. Even so, the dealer roster remains heavily traditional. Contemporary design will be presented by cabinetmaker Viscount Linley and the Metal Gallery. Still, Grosvenor’s new look is bound to draw the curious.
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.