The Friedman Benda design gallery in Chelsea now has a catalogue raisonné in the works for design artist Wendell Castle, whose work is in over 40 museums, from MoMA to the V&A. Author Emily Eerdmans, who penned The World of Madeleine Castaing (Rizzoli 2010), is tackling the Castle project.
Now nearing 80, Castle was for years pigeonholed as a craft artist specializing in furniture, although his pioneering wood designs melded an organic and streamlined esthetic that is certainly sculpturally sophisticated. His latest designs, which include a series of rockers, are totally in sync with a millennium sensibility.
Prediction: The catalogue raisonné of 2,000-plus examples is certain to pivot Castle to an entire new plateau.
Glass Artist Dan Dailey
Contemporary artists aren’t alone in hopscotching to new gallery stables. Philadelphia glass artist Dan Dailey (b. 1947), whose later work merges sculpture and functional art with frequently a mixture of bronze and glass as in lighting depicting cavorting human figures, just joined the Philadelphia 5,200-square-foot Wexler Gallery, which is headed up by former Christie’s star Lewis Wexler.
“Dan's work has a narrative that works well with the modern masters,” said Wexler. “In fact, in Peter Rosen’s 2006 documentary Who Gets to Call it Art, the late Metropolitan Museum contemporary art curator Henry Geldzaher has a Dailey piece sitting on top of an Andy Warhol Brillo Box in his Hamptons house,” said Wexler.
In addition to creating sculptures and objects, Dailey has spent over three decades in particular turning out limited-edition pâte de verre (glass paste that is kiln fired) pieces for the French luxury label Cristallerie Daum as well as special commissions like a dining room for the West Coast home of comedian Robin Williams.
The designer’s work can be found at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art. "Today, contemporary art collectors who favor Dailey also own works by Wayne Thiebaud, Jim Dine, Frank Stella and Roy Lichtenstein,” said Wexler.
“Collectors find Dailey's esthetic to be steeped in modernism with a narrative that is in response to the human condition, which makes his work relevant in contemporary society,” he said. “Historical references to Lalique, Brandt and Cheuret are also prevalent in his work."
Design for Postage Stamps
Portions of the vast industrial design collection of George R. Kravis II, who is the older brother of mega-art collector Henry Kravis, whose wife Marie-Josée Kravis is president of the Museum of Modern Art board of trustees, can be glimpsed on stamps. Of the 12 U.S. Postal Service “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” stamp collection out now, nine objects are from his collection.
The 44-cent stamps include such icons as a Peter Müller-Munk(1904–1967) chromium-plated brass pitcher from 1935, produced by Revere Copper and Brass Company in Rome, N.Y. The Revere catalogue refers to the pitcher as “inspired by the leaning streamlined stacks of the famous French liner.” Also pictured is the Norman Bel Geddes(1893–1958) Emerson plastic radio, 1940.
The objects on the stamps will be on display in an exhibition co-organized by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Philbrook Museum of Art. The show opens at the Cooper-Hewitt on Aug. 11, 2011, and then travels to Tulsa.
“Müller-Munk, Russel Wright, Gilbert Rohde and Donald Deskey were pioneers of industrial design and now with the stamps, a wider public can learn and appreciate their incredible skills and a particular chapter in American design,” said Kravis at the opening of the MoMA “Talk to Me” exhibition on July 19.
Artists have long craved walls as canvases (ie. Henri Matisse’s murals in the Albert Barnes home), but now artist-designed wallpapers are hitting their stride with two new collections debuting at Artware Editions, the five-year-old New York company now in quarters on the Bowery.
“People are starting the get the hang of it as the tradition of wallpaper in the U.S. is very different from that, for example, in the UK,” says Rebecca Kong, a former director of Chicago’s hip Donald Young Gallery and co-founder of Artware Editions with Jon Tomlinson. “What these wallpapers provide is an accessible price point for works by popular artists like Fred Tomaselli and Sarah Morris.
Best-selling artist todate is the German-born, Brooklyn-based Markus Linnenbrink, who is celebrated for his drip paintings. His work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the UCLA Hammer Museum.
A Linnenbrink wallpaper installation starts at $9,500. At auction, meanwhile, a 2004 Linnenbrink monotype made $3,375 at Freeman’s two years ago. No less than the American Patrons of Tate purchased the Linnenbrink wallpaper, which is now installed in the group’s Manhattan outpost.
London Design Fest
The London Design Festival, Sept. 17-25, 2011, features over 200 events and exhibitions, not least of them installations by powerhouse architects John Pawson and David Chipperfield.
Pawson, a master of minimalism and deft use of light, is known for his appealingly sculptural Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur in Bohemia as well as for his chic Calvin Klein flagship on Madison Avenue. His contribution to the festival consists of a collaboration with Swarovski installed at no less a site than Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. The plan calls for a concave crystal lens in the cathedral's southwest tower staircase and a spherical convex mirror in the cupola.
As for Chipperfield, known for his prizewinning design of the Berlin Neues Museum, he’s taking on Royal Festival Hall. There, the architect is devising an exterior installation of fabric mesh between sheets of glass. Chipperfield, who snared both the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture/Mies van der Rohe Award 2011 and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 2011, is designing the St. Louis Art Museum expansion.
For a respite from the sweltering heat -- an imaginary one, anyway -- escape to an earlier age by picking up Elegant Wilderness: Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks, 1995-1935, by Gladys Montgomery (Acanthus Press, 2011), working in collaboration with the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. The book is packed with period photos of camps in the rustic style, and the especially astonishing twig furniture owned by titan collectors like J.P. Morgan.
Not to miss is the photo of the “tree room” of noted Americana collector Mabel Garvan at her Camp Kill Kare in Lake Sumner, N.M. New Yorker Charles Hiscoe designed the interiors and the bed with its tree trunk, complete with an owl perched in its branches, with a silvery birch tree-trunk pedestal table and polar bear rug.
John Russell Pope (1874-1937), celebrated for his designs for the National Gallery of Art and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., was the architect of Kill Kare. The book’s photos of camps filled with Native American art and Stickley furniture give a window onto a lost era of American taste.
BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.