Friday, November 25, 2016


I must have passed this building on the corner of 30th Street and Lexington Avenue on my way between our former offices, apartments, client's homes and the New York Design Center. It's a very handsome building conceived by Ellen Dunlap Hopkins as a school dedicated to training women in the arts and architecture and constructed in the Classical style by architect Harvey Wiley Corbett. The building was acquired in 1991 by Touro College. There was a small plaque on the corner for the College and that was the only way I knew it was Touro College. Touro College sold the building in 2006 and the building remained up for sale or rent
until Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons grabbed it up and began turning it into Dover Street Market New York, the third Market after her London and Ginza emporiums.
The store is an incubator for new designers alongside stalwarts like Prada and Louis Vuitton.
The interior is seven floors stacked on top of each other like a super rich layered cake decorated with the artistry of a master pastry chef with a central glass elevator piercing through the center.
If you start out or end your tour of this haute fashion feast for the eyes on the first floor you're going to have to stop for a patisserie at the Rose Bakery imported from the streets of Paris. You're also likely to be rubbing elbows with the likes of Donna Karan, the actress Lucy Liu or Ed Nardoza, the editor of Woman's Wear Daily.
This is an industry building that definitely pushes the envelope. With a list of designers so varied and complex there's almost a competition to see who can be more edgy then their neighboring designer.
That edginess lives inside the Dover Street Market in both the worlds of fashion and interior design. Not only are the designers encouraged to use their space as a petri dish experimenting with their tools of fabric and the human form but they were encouraged to bring that creativity to the design of their space as well.
Each fashion designer was given total control over the space their clothing would inhabit. Some chose an eclectic hip approach
While others like Thom Browne took a more buttoned down way of displaying their goods.
The square footage on each floor is parceled out in small chunks, so small some designers were limited to a space no larger than a guest bathroom
Several huge support columns that seem to crop up like beanstalks out of a fairy tale are left exposed but wrapped in comfy knit sleeves by street-knitting pioneer, Magda Sayeg, known for street "bombing" random urban objects. She once completely covered a city bus in Mexico City.
The Comme des Garcons philosophy of experimentation abounds throughout the seven floors of the building. Lead by the genius of Rei Kawakubo's amazing vision
and then filtered down through the innovative space design each designer has chosen to highlight and enhance their vision
This sense of space takes its cues from the merchandise each designer has laid out stretching their vision beyond apparel and into art .
But if you enter this museum of fashion with the intent to actually making a purchase
you need to have a good sized wad of cash or a credit card with a very high limit. This simple black sleeveless knit vest priced out at a mere $900 and dresses from Comme des Garcons could set you back $10,000 and up.
Happy shopping to those who can and to those like myself I'll have to limit my purchasing to what I can shoplift with my eyes.

Dovina in Balenciaga at the Café les Deux Magots, Paris, 1955
Richard Avedon, photographer
Represented by the Gagosian Gallery, New Yorks

Friday, November 18, 2016


Any time a show choses the Park Avenue Armory as its venue one can expect an Upper Eastside appeal. The Salon Art + Design did not disappoint. As opposed to shows selecting the massive Javits as their home the Armory is a smaller space with barely room for four aisles of booths that are more ateliers than vendor spaces.
It is definitely not a show based on the premise that more is more.
Some purveyors of art and antiquities had spaces so minimally stocked it was hard to see where their profit lay although that soon became eminently clear.
When the walls of your space are decorated with original Egon Schiele's the sale of one piece is more than likely sufficient to warrant the cost of your show expenses plus a tidy profit.
And most of the dealers here had some hefty expenses to deal with. It is a show composed heavily on representation from across the pond. With names in attendance like Giustini/Stagetti Galleria O. Roma and Pierre Marie Giraud Europe was well-represented meaning transportation, crating and huge custom forms to deal with and pay for.
I had decided on attending the show in hopes that I might find some art for a current client. We've been going back and forth on a few pieces but we've not hit on the right piece at the right price. This piece by an artist known as Nunzio done in 1954 did stop me, constructed of sheet metal over wood the patina and rhythm of the form was intriguing. We were looking for a large piece and Nunzio's piece at approximately five feet by five feet meant it was almost large enough for what we were looking for so I inquired. I asked the stunningly attired curator "Can you tell me anything about the piece?'
"It is stunning isn't it?" I nodded
She continued in her Italian accented broken English,"It's by Nunzio, an Italian artist very well known in Europe but not so well known here. It would be a steal at $120,000 U.S."
"A bargain" Unfortunately my client's budget wasn't quite up to that level.
I decided it was going to have to be an inspirational tour of the rest of  the show after I made one more attempt at inquiring about a piece I thought conceptually might have been appropriate. This piece made from honeycomb lath covered in 24-karat gold priced out at a mere $33,000. You have no idea of how hard and time consuming it is to get all that gold into all those little hexagonal holes.
Once I had given up on the quest of coming away with a possible solution to my client's needs I was able to focus on some of the pieces that I could connect with on a purely visual basis. I loved the airiness of this aluminum construction dated 1970 by the Swedish artist, Bertil Herlow-Svensson. It was a piece that when lit became more than the form itself by extending onto the walls with a constantly moving pattern of lines shadows on the wall and glints of reflective light.
Contemporary and current pieces were also on display. I'm normally not fascinated with three-dimensional art but this piece by Naimh Barry was another standout.
One of my favorites was the Sarah Meyerscough Gallery out of London specializing in a mix of woodcrafts and unforgettable art. The pale and grained wood on this huge table was to marvel at.
And this photo of a twist on the Vermeer painting had me drooling with desire. The trompe l'oeil of the real pearls dripping from the bottom of the frame was genius. Given the price point of most of the work I'm guessing that the pearls may actually be real and not manmade.

The contrast between vendors at the Javits and those at the Park Avenue Armory couldn't have been clearer if only in the way they labeled themselves. At the Javits they were clearly vendors and sale people. At the Armory they were curators and antiquarians.
At the Armory touching the art could get your hands slapped. At BDNY you were encouraged to not only sit on the product but draw on it too. I'm pretty sure these chairs by Marquis were only a show gimmick but you have to admit they were an ingenious venture into pure fun.
There were a few things I hadn't seen before. This might only be new to me but this heatless flame was a novelty to me. You could run your hand through the flame and make it flicker from your hand's movement. There was no heat involved, you couldn't get burned...smoke and mirrors?
I hadn't seen Area Environments before. They're a wall covering company. It was hard to ignore their booth and that can be difficult if what you deal in is two-dimensional and usually shown in a book with samples no bigger than a diploma. Their marbleized wall covering that they stretched from wall to floor and would have extended to the ceiling if they had a ceiling was more that just impressive. It was a gorgeous adventure into blue and hand-painted swipes of gold.
Shagreen didn't make as significant an impression as it has in the past but what I did see I liked including this side table in brushed nickel and faux grey shagreen  from Go Home.
Steampunk is a well-known phenomenon in Madison but I was astounded to see it make an appearance at the BDNY show.  This version called ModVic hails from Sharon, Massachusetts. They came to the show with their own blacksmith/ironworker who pounded and bent creating his own rhythm and music as you walked by. I'm not sure how this might fit into the Boutique Design milieu but it was fascinating to see.
I couldn't review the show without a nod to one of my favorite vendors, Global Views. They always come up with great design at great prices making us look good to many of our clients.
But the most impressive piece of information I walked away with is that at a trade show that caters to the hospitality crowd is a great way to get a free drunk. Virtually every booth came equipped with a fully stocked and free, yes I said free, bar and those that didn't stashed their hooch in cabinets or under beds.
There were corks popping at nine in the morning. I'm, unfortunately not a drinker, but here's to next year's bacchanal.
Weegee At the San Remo Bar, ca. 1954
Weegee, photographer
Represented by the Steven Kasher Gallery

Saturday, November 12, 2016


A 10 OUT OF 10 DAY
New York generally gets no more than a handful of perfect days each year. The first Friday in November just happened to be one of them, low sixties, blue skies, a paintbrush stroke of falls colors and a clear view for miles.
The emerald jewel in the cities crown has always been Central Park and even though I had a couple meetings to navigate on Friday and an early evening flight I still carved out an hour to walk over the cinder paths now covered with a patchwork of golden leaves in one of the most magnificent parks in the world on a day that was nothing but perfect. I would be guilty of being greedy if I didn’t share.
Here goes.

Central Park, 1935
Samuel Gottscho, photographer

From the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection in the Library of Congress