Quality returns in abundance to NYC Modernism show
From the moment you walked through the doors of the Park Avenue Armory you could sense an energy not felt in years. The fair, know as PAD the Pavilion of Art and Design, is making its debut in New York today. The fair began in Paris 14 years ago and since has branched out to London. It has brought a quality of 20th century art and design not seen in New York for a decade. Over the past 25 years the Armory was host to Modernism, a show featuring the best of decorative arts and design. Since 2008, the show has suffered. Many of the best dealers in both the US and Europe stopped exhibiting making it difficult for the show to continue. Fortunately, PAD has come to the rescue
Walking from dealer to dealer you are immediately impressed by the quality and examples of the work displayed. It was like walking into a who’s who of art and design. Immediately you are struck by the presentation of mid century French design by Gallerie Downtown. Wonderful examples of Jean Prouve and Charlotte Perriand furniture are complimented by a rare Serge Mouille spider wall lamp. Then your are taken by the collaboration of Yves Macaux and Richard Nagy. Together they have created a presentation of early 20th century Viennese art and design that could be dropped right into a room at the Neue Gallery. A cerused oak Josef Hoffmann dining room suite is complimented by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele drawings. Incredible wood inlay chairs by Koloman Moser should immediately make a home in Ronald Lauders collection.
Art Deco has come back into fashion if you are a fan you will not be disappointed. At Gallerie Vallois Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann furniture and archival photographs along with a Jean Dunand eggshell and lacquer small table would be a enough for any collector. But great pieces like Paul Dupre Lafon’s pair of parchment and oak column drawers, large geometric designed Claude Linossier’s dinanderie vases or Line Vautrin’s talosel resin and glass mirrors stand out among the highlights of this period.
If your taste is more contemporary Todd Merrill’s monumental wood cabinet by Michael Coffey or Beth Katleman’s 3 dimensional wallpaper offer two different takes on modern design. Barry Friedman was one of the few dealers showing both old and new. His bookcase “Restless” by Ron Arad and Wendell Castle’s black walnut chair sat next to a Charles Rennie Mackintosh white painted side table. This is a nice example of “how to live with design” as it should not be about a time or period but about great design that carries a common thread through it. Modern design is always being created and this shows how to you can always mix the old and new.
The fine art was diverse. A Jean Debuffet portrait, Chaim Soutine landscape, and a Kurt Schwitters wood sculpture are presented next to Joan Mitchell, Robert Indiana and Helen Frankenthaler. At Robilant & Voena, a Giorgio Morandi still life stood next to a Lucio Fontana Concetti Spaziali. The current retrospective of Willem De Kooning at MOMA influenced the abundance of his works shown, especially his figure paintings. The most interesting of booths was from Van Weghe where the strangest of pieces Duane Hanson’s Bus Stop Lady sat next to my favorite painting of the evening Andy Warhol’s “Somebody Wants To Buy Your Apartment Building!”. This struck a real chord with me as a New Yorker. Hansen’s sculpture of a Ft. Lauderdale female shopper was so life like you had to double take as it looked like a bag lady had entered the show and was in the corner by herself!
Rounding out the show were presentations of fine African sculptures from Entwistle and Alain de Monbrison along with fine art jewelry from Didier. There you can see the diversity of 20th centuries finest artists who have branched off and made unique pieces of jewelry in limited editions or one offs. Interestingly, Didier Haspeslagh is one of only two dealers still showing from last years Modernism show. Lastly, if you want to make sure your friends knew you came to the show Jason Jacques set up a camera to takes portraits in his booth with Art Nouveau and Contemporary ceramics. While coming back from the show to my apartment in lower Manhattan, I passed by the park where people have come for the “Occupy Wall Street” protests and I couldn’t help but think “interesting I just spent the last 3 hours with the 1%”. Gotta Love New York!!
Jerry Kaye © Artlyst 2011 Image Courtesy PAD NY