Effect Magazine rounds up the highlights from New York’s premier art and design fair, returning to the Park Avenue Armory for its 69th edition.
Founded in the 1950s and the undisputed grande dame of America’s art and design events, The Winter Show returned this week to the Park Avenue Armory, its home for all but four of its 69 outings, and with its star undiminished. Opening night drew in its habitual upscale crowd, with Michael Bloomberg and Martha Stewart rubbing shoulders with legendary designers – and 2023 design co-chairs – Bunny Williams, Stephen Sills, Elizabeth Lawrence and Alex Papachristidis.
Executive Director Helen Allen describes the show as offering “dedicated and passionate collectors and connoisseurs the opportunity to acquire and learn about an extensive range of works from around the world.” In her opening comments, she also underscored the show’s commitment to the East Side House Settlement, describing the foundation as “absolutely the core of the show – everything that we do here helps benefit them – all the ticket sales and proceeds.”
Known until recently as the Winter Antiques Show, the exhibition still skews antique, but the move towards vintage and contemporary is increasingly evident, accounting for many of this year’s stand-out exhibits, from the Post-War art and design of Geoffrey Diner Gallery to the 21st-century artists championed by Michael Goedhuis. Further breadth is created by capsule exhibitions including a not-to-be-overlooked collection of early 20th-century dresses that belonged to Aileen Pei, hosted by the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in partnership with East Side House and Bank of America..
Amid industry concerns over global logistical headaches, shipping costs, and the sad demise of London’s Masterpiece, there was nevertheless a palpably upbeat and positive mood among exhibitors as they prepared to open, with a strong sense of anticipation and a firm commitment to a Winter Show that includes – Allen tells us – “68 phenomenal dealers from nine different countries, 15 of them new to the show this year.”
Portuondo is one such Winter Show debutant. Founder-brothers Hugo and Diego Portuondo said they were “thrilled and honoured to be taking part,” and hailed the Winter Show’s mix of periods and specialities: “We strongly believe that it makes a much more enriching experience for both the visitor and the exhibitor.”
Lilian Nassau CEO Arlie Sulka said: “For collectors and museum curators, the Winter Show is considered to be the most important show of the year held in the US and for me, it is a privilege to exhibit alongside dealers who are considered to be the top of their field.” And Geoffrey Diner, whose of run 20 consecutive shows began back in 1996 before a hiatus, said: “With the impressive restoration of the Park Avenue Armory and the energisation of New York in the aftermath of the pandemic, the Winter Show means a return to my roots at a personal level, and the reinvigoration as well as resilience of what is classic, what has always worked,” adding: “I am excited to be back.”
Here are some of the stand-out exhibits from this year’s show:
It was impossible to walk past the ever-elegant Michael Goedhuis stand without being struck by Cylone with Flare – a work by contemporary British artist Emilie Pugh, who Goedhuis describes as “one of the most original and imaginative artists of her generation.”
Created by fusing six separate panels of Japanese kozuke paper together, then burning them with an incense stick, the result is a fiercely original yet gracefully organic three-dimensional structure that evokes the feeling of watching a cyclone from space – fluid motions, frozen and rendered in creams and gold.
Also arrestingly impressive are a pair of gold-ground painting by Chinese artist Wei Ligang – The Dews from the Tung Trees Floating in the Woods and Smoke Float Profoundly from the Furnace. These are complemented by one of the artist’s earlier works, the equally beautiful Peacock – Pearl and Jade.
Guy Regal NYC
Guy Regal NYC have conjured up a stand of delicate mushroom notes, curated from varying eras yet resonating with an extraordinary degree of cohesion, grace and interest.
Works by contemporary artist Peter Lane thread through the show, with sculptural ceramics and a stunning pair of sand-blasted cabinets, specially produced for the exhibition, and described by Regal, with full justification, as “phenomenal.”
Also on show are an exceptional pair of French Art Deco side cabinets, and a 1930s British Art Deco shagreen salon set – “a tour-de-force of English Art Deco from the 1930s,” says Regal, adding: “It’s rare to find shagreen at this scale and of this importance, so we’re very excited about it.”
Hanging above the set is a stunning Madrid Lalique chandelier from the 1930s – “It couldn’t be more rare and unusual – they are almost never up for sale.”
When quizzed on the current evident resurgence of interest in European Art Deco, Regal, says: “A hundred percent. We can’t keep it in stock. Over the last year we’ve had some very rare pieces, and none of them have stayed in the shop for more than a month. People are expanding their collections outside of mid-century, to give it depth.” And referencing their stand, he says: “Here, we have contemporary and Art Deco, and the two roll together so well.”
Geoffrey Diner Gallery
We last saw the Geoffrey Diner Gallery at Masterpiece 2022 in London, where Diner continued his impressive track-record by scooping Winner of Outstanding Display. Their 2023 Winter Show stand is every bit as exceptional.
Diner tells Effect: “We have come to specialise in masterworks of American design – in particular, George Nakashima, complemented by aesthetically compatible works of recherché Italian design, centred on Gio Ponti. The collection we have curated is unified by historical period and by a visual theme of cool, clean lines punctuated by touches of unfinished, unvarnished natural form.”
Taking centre-stage is Free Edge Conoid Table – a monumental George Nakashima table from 1969 in Persian walnut and American black walnut – “originally commissioned,” says Diner, “by the renowned National Geographic editor, William Garrett.”
Also striking is a round Gio Ponti Low Table, “originally designed,” Diner tells us, “ for the Milanese apartment Casa Lucano in 1951,” adding that “its sleek profile is in line with Ponti’s overall aesthetic which set the stage for the Post-War Italian design revival.”
The gallery like to complement their design with what Diner calls “good wallpower” – and this year’s show features Block Island by the great African American abstract expressionist, Norman Lewis. “Aesthetically, the colour scale – which ranges from deep violet to bright magenta – helps bring out the surprising range of natural tones present in the walnut and oak characterising our Ponti & Nakashima collections.”
All of the Geoffrey Diner Gallery’s shows have been exceptionally well presented, with atmospheric lighting and as much use of shadow as illumination; and Diner says: “I would emphasise that there is less thinking behind the collection we have curated than there is feeling guiding it.” Superb.
The always-impressive Maison Gerard had a show-stopping set of late 18th-century Moroccan doors, adding instant intrigue to an already immersive stand.
Sourced from a Marrakesh townhouse, the doors bookend a collection that includes an outstanding Art Deco Albert Cheuret light, and the centrepiece – a contemporary gilded-bronze chandelier hand-crafted by Marc Bankowsky, five feet tall, a sculptural rendition of entwined vine stems, staggeringly beautiful.
Complementing the collection is a beautiful pair of 1925 French Art Deco armchairs by Maurice Dufrêne in silvered wood.
London and Madrid gallery Portuondo takes its name from brothers Hugo and Diego Portuondo, who tell Effect they are exhibiting “a rather eclectic mix of lighting, objects and furniture from the 1930s through to the 1970s, juxtaposed with 20th-century tapestries”. They add: “Our aim is to create a modern space with a timeless atmosphere.” On this, they certainly deliver, with a series of outstanding pieces for their Winter Show debut.
Immediately eye-catching is a 1972 Sonia Delaunay tapestry, Eclipse, its vivid, modernist colours and constructivist shapes irresistibly softened to a textile organic-ness. Equally impressive is the 1975 Robert Motherwell tapestry hanging on the adjacent wall. “It’s very rare to come across American post-war artists’ tapestries,” says Hugo, “as it’s a medium which was not really exploited by US artists, compared to their European counterparts.
The tapestries frame a fabulous Elliptique lounge-set by the French architect Bernard Govin for Saporiti from the mid-1960s, which dominates the centre of the stand, upholstered in an iridescent bottle green.
New York gallery Lillian Nassau has long been synonymous with Tiffany glass, but gallery owner Arlie Sulka was an early pioneer in blending the Art Deco-era pieces with mid-century design, reflected in the collection she’s showing this year.
“We want to convey how the gallery mixes Tiffany with mid-century design,” says Sulka, “illustrating how great things always go with great things, no matter when they were created.”
READ: Lillian Nassau – the New York gallery with a heart of Tiffany glass
Of particular note is a stunning Snowball Tiffany window, which Sulka says she is “thrilled to offer” – particularly as it is the second time it has passed through the gallery.
“Having sold this window to a collector close to 35 years ago,” she says, “I have always had a special kinship for it and dreamed of having it back at the gallery again. The window is a supreme example of Tiffany’s artistry in glass, showcasing the company’s revolutionary techniques in glassmaking, composition and construction.”
A second, equally notable, panel hangs next to it – a 1904 Frank Lloyd Wright Wisteria window from the Darwin D Martin residence – the house commissioned by the businessman from the legendary architect, and considered one of the great achievements of Wright’s career.
Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts
As befits their prominent setting, Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts brought a heavyweight show to this year’s fair, with the 11-foot-high Jacques Lipchitz Lesson of a Disaster bronze at the stand’s entrance acting as an emphatic statement of intent.
On show for the first time since the 1990s, it’s one of a series of seven created by the Lithuanian sculptor between 1961 and 1970 – the title a homage to the artist’s Washington Square studio, which burned down in the 1950s. The gallery’s Ken Sims says: “He wanted to do something that brought hope – a phoenix out of the ashes – to feed the next generation of thought and creativity.”
Also on show are remarkable pair of 1940s Frank Lloyd Wright chairs in cypress and fabric, which manage to be both utilitarian and strikingly pretty, with a bold, constructivist feel to the frames; and a Tiffany Studios favrile glass mosaic from 1905. Tiffany Studios are well-represented at this year’s show, but this is a stand-out piece that deserves to be seen.
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