The latest showcase for mid-century design is -- surprise, surprise -- a new condo. Called White Space, it is billed as a "global address" but can more accurately be found at 650 Sixth Avenue at 20th Street. Earlier this month, this new real estate development debuted its sales office to the public chockablock with pieces by George Nakashima and Piero Fornasetti, courtesy of the Chelsea gallery Sebastian + Barquet. Artworks were provided by Jack Shainman Gallery.
Stylistically, the apartments are rather 1980s, and the furniture bears art-world prices. For instance, a 1993 Noguchi steel table from an edition of 18 costs $100,000. Still, it remains to be seen how many purchasers will also pluck up the vintage furniture and just add it to their condo bill.
Art and realty in SoHo
The now-under-construction SoHo Mews at 311 West Broadway (in a former parking lot, just north of Canal Street) is ratcheting up its efforts to lure art collectors as buyers in the famous artist’s loft district. Purchasers of the 68 lofts (of course), penthouses and townhouses designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects receive invitations to exhibitions previews at the nearby Deitch Projects art gallery, while Deitch contributes to on-site art projects.
SoHo Mews has still more art-world branding. The Art Production Fund of Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen is both manning an office and a gallery there. APF has already commissioned an artwork for the temporary construction wall on Wooster Street by Kristin Baker. It works this way: the APF space is a "gift" from the developer, United American Land, and in return APF provides "art concierge" services, which will include a monthly salon-style open house in our ground floor space, inviting residents of Soho Mews to join us for tea and conversation about contemporary art, as well as a monthly newsletter of insider art-world happenings. The New Museum of Contemporary Art also a partner of sorts, as it is providing a membership to condo buyers.
The price tag for such artfully elevated housing runs from $2.1 million to $11 million. Stay tuned. We’re bound to see more such partnerships between real-estate and art-world entities.
Masterpiece modernist images
Architectural photographer Ezra Stoller (1915-2004), who captured Modernist landmarks like no other, was a legend in his time. Even then bold-face-name architects spoke of having their buildings "Stollerized," as this master lenser treated architecture with the same reverence as sculpture and other more traditional art objects.
Now, Danziger Projects in Chelsea is presenting the exhibition "Ezra Stoller: Buildings of New York," and although only 20 black-and-white images are featured, the show is a must. Every example is a landmark, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building. Stoller’s images of Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal at night are especially artful.
Price points are a reasonable $2,500 to $12,000. But hurry -- some of the editioned prints have already sold out. "Clients include real estate developers," says Danziger. One doesn’t even need three guesses to pinpoint the identity of those collectors. Hands down, Aby Rosen has to be at the top of the list. The show remains up till July 20, 2007, at Danziger Projects at 521 West 26th Street in Chelsea.
Textiles collecting hits Asia
Scoot back not so long ago and textile collecting was restricted to lace fanciers, predominantly little old ladies, and a mere handful of museums. Today, though we have entire new batches of collecting groups and they’re focusing on material far more contemporary than the odd 17th-century embroidery. Case in point is London textile dealer Francesca Galloway’s new show, "Neo-Classicism to Pop."
Woven among usual suspects like Henri Matisse and Raul Dufy are textiles designed by Marino Marini and Victor Vasarely. Surprisingly appealing are a Vasarely rendition of Op art in black and white as well as a Danish design, a riff on Fernand Léger, for Finlandia Vodka. With prices hovering in the $3,500-$7,500 range, the show is bound to attract savvy buyers.
"The client base is broadening," says Galloway, who often sports vintage Balenciaga couture herself and began oddly enough for a Mayfair dealer with a Portobello Road stall. Her collectors can hail from places like Hong Kong and India. "Film stars, fashion designers, architects and other art dealers make up the mix," says Galloway. She believes with more and more collectors being priced out of the contemporary painting market, they will gravitate towards textiles.
If you can’t catch this exhibition, grab the sumptuous catalogue, Twentieth Century Textiles. It’s bound in a linen print copy of Dufy’s 1920 Neptune. Galloway’s last catalogue, Post War British Textiles, now goes for a hefty $200 on eBay, further indicating her prowess. Francesa Galloway is located at 31 Dover Street, London W1.
Russian modernism by the book
For a sneak preview of the maiden exhibition of Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s new chief curator of architecture and design, snap up the book Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture 1922-1932 (Monacelli Press, $85). Both the publication and the show are a window onto a rarely seen period of architecture. Represented is Centrosoyuz, Le Corbusier’s only building in Russia, which includes a fabulous swirl of ramps. The output of other architects also appears remarkably modern. But that too brief spurt of creativity was extinguished by the Stalinist regime, which virtually outlawed modern architecture.
The superb photographs are by British photog Richard Pare, who made eight trips to Russia. They document not only this missing chapter in architectural history but also the appalling condition of so many structures. The domestic interiors have a startling poignancy. The book boasts 375 photos while the MoMA exhibition, which opens July 18, 2007, contains about 75 works, as well as Russian journals.
Tiffany goes contemporary
Macklowe Gallery, the Madison Avenue purveyor of period Tiffany and jewelry, has recast its quarters in a minimalist format, with sleek, streamlined interiors, high-tech lighting and a wraparound library balcony that has got to be the envy of every bibliophile. No antiques fan should miss Macklowe’s exceptional way of showcasing period deco arts.
The new guise is the brainchild of Lloyd Macklowe, who founded the firm in 1971 and oversaw the nine-week project. And the effect is dazzling. A 1900 Tiffany chandelier by the front entrance demonstrates the power of spare interiors for accentuating antiques. From a pierced brass corona hang six bulbous iridescent glass forms in a shimmering palette of gold laced with lavender. The overall effect makes contemporary art glass look almost ho-hum. At $275,000, the lighting fixture is a stunner.
Downstairs is a virtual museum of Tiffany lamps as well as Art Nouveau and furniture. Clearly, the booming Tiffany market is fueling this new look. "In the past five years, the number of Tiffany collectors has shot up 40 percent," says Benjamin Macklowe. Interestingly, Russians are now dipping into Tiffany, too. The Macklowe Gallery is located at 677 Madison Avenue between 61st and 62nd Street.
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.