Design Evening & Day Sales New York, 13 December 2018
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Design Evening & Day Sales New York, 13 December 2018
Auction and Viewing Location 450 Park Avenue New York 10022
Auctions 13 December 2018
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Day Sale Auction 2pm Lots 101–214
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Evening Sale Auction 5pm Lots 1–29
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12. Gio Ponti
Design Evening Sale Lots 1â€“29, 5pm
Two Rare Mirrors by Line Vautrin from the Collection of Raf Simons
Property from the Collection of Raf Simons
1. Line Vautrin
“Sequins” mirror circa 1963 Talosel resin, colored mirrored glass, mirrored glass, aluminum. 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm) diameter Reverse of frame impressed ROI and incised Line Vautrin. Estimate $40,000-60,000 Provenance De Baecque & Associés, Lyon, “Regard sur le XXème siècle #13,” October 15, 2016, lot 196 Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Catherine Prague, “Avec de l’ancien on peut faire de la décoration moderne,” Mobilier et Décoration, November 1963, p. 23 Patrick Mauriès, Line Vautrin: Miroirs, exh. cat., Galerie Chastel-Maréchal, Paris, 2004, pp. 40, 74-75
Property from the Collection of Raf Simons
2. Line Vautrin
Unique “Satellite Orange” mirror circa 1962 Talosel resin, colored mirrored glass, convex mirrored glass. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm) diameter Reverse incised LV. Estimate $50,000-70,000 Provenance Galerie Chastel-Maréchal, Paris Acquired from the above Artcurial, Paris, “Design,” May 15, 2012, lot 152 Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Patrick Mauriès, Line Vautrin: Miroirs, exh. cat., Galerie Chastel-Maréchal, Paris, 2004, illustrated p. 2
3. Jean Royère
“Étoile” double-sided illuminated bar, from the Parachini residence, France 1958 Straw marquetry-covered wood, glass, brass. 37 1/2 x 71 x 13 7/8 in. (95.3 x 180.3 x 35.2 cm) Estimate $120,000-180,000 Provenance Madame Parachini, France, 1958 Thence by descent Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2009 Literature Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean Royère, Paris, 2017, p. 250 for a similar example
The present work is documented in the Jean Royère papers held by the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris in the Parachini ensemble fle as well as in the meuble d’appui fle as tracing plan no. 7.077.
The present lot illustrated in a sketch for the original interior ensemble conceived by Jean Royère. © MAD, Paris/Jean Tholance. Image courtesy of Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, musée des Arts décoratifs.
For the present illuminated bar designed for Madame Parachini in 1958, Jean Royère covered the surfaces in straw marquetry, a fascinating technique that had been in use since at least the seventeenth century, but was most popular in France and Britain around the turn of the nineteenth century. The technique involves splitting and pressing down pieces of straw—usually rye—onto sheets of paper that were then adhered to the surface of an object. The individual stalks could be dyed any number of colors, allowing for complex patterns and pictorial scenes to be “painted” in straw. Though originally used for smaller objects such as workboxes and tea chests, in the 1920s Art Deco designers rediscovered the technique and began to cover entire pieces of furniture and even walls with straw marquetry, most ofen undyed and in simple radiating patterns. The designers surely admired the golden, light-refective qualities of natural straw. The material is also remarkably durable, the grass containing a natural layer of protective silica.
Working several decades later in a more playful, organic style than his Art Deco predecessors, Royère reintroduced color to straw marquetry. For a number of pieces he dyed the straw black, such as the “Flaque” table (sold at Phillips, New York, “Design,” June 6, 2018, lot 14). For Madame Parachini’s bar, Royère scattered colorful straw étoiles (stars) across the surface. Royère made fve other straw marquetry-covered cabinets, recorded as meuble d’appui in the papers held by the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, in the late 1950s. For Madame Parachini’s bar, Royère specifed “meuble paillé sur les 4 faces” (straw on all four sides) for it was intended to be used as a room divider. Indeed, Royère’s drawing for the Parachini ensemble shows the bar situated between a seating and dining area, serving as an elegant transition piece for this carefully-considered interior.
Three Important Table Lamps by Jean-Michel Frank Jean-Michel Frank’s pursuit of elemental forms is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in his lighting designs. In keeping with his aesthetic of understated luxury, he favored austere, simple shapes in a variety of unexpected materials that he selected for their various textures and colors. For lot 4, the rock crystal table lamp, Frank lef the material in a rough-hewn state. He employed similar rock crystal lamps in a number of his interiors, placing them on side tables and sometimes directly on the foor. He particularly favored rock crystal lamps in the Hôtel Bischofsheim, the residence of Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles (1926), scattering the lamps throughout the main sitting room. They also appeared in Templeton Crocker’s penthouse (1929) as well as in Adolphe Chanaux’s apartment (1930). In these interiors, the lamps were as intentionally placed as the rocks in a pitch-perfect Japanese Zen garden. The coarse crystalline forms stand like miniature mountains and inspire contemplation not unlike a Chinese scholar’s rock. In fact, though Frank eschewed most historical references, he was inspired by Asian art and incorporated subtle motifs to that end into a number of his designs, such as the “Pagoda” side table.
Lot 5, the mica-covered “Block” lamp, continues the theme of Frank’s fascination for materials coupled with austerity of form. For this work the designer covered a simple rectangular block in a regular grid of mica sheets. Mica has a natural metallic luster and, just like the rock crystal lamps, lent captivating texture and sparkle to his interiors. Frank reserved the use of mica for some of his most important commissions, such as the sitting room of Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, where he clad the freplace surround in mica. The same treatment appeared again in Templeton Crocker’s San Francisco penthouse. Mica-covered tables appeared in the designer’s own smoking room (1938). Terracotta was perhaps the most subversive in JeanMichel Frank’s repertoire of provocative materials. Also known as red earthenware, terracotta is traditionally associated with building materials such as bricks and tiles, and, if used in decoration, the clay body is covered with a colorful glaze, as is the case with faience. However Frank introduced terracotta into his interiors in its raw, unglazed state, which created a startling efect in his highly refned interiors. Terracotta is also related to Frank’s collaborations with Alberto Giacometti, who favored the material in his sculptures and decorative objects in this period, which evoke archaeological relics. Lot 6, the “X” lamp, was also made in metal and in wood, but the present terracotta version, which is extraordinarily rare in this material, is arguably the most powerful.
The sitting room in the Hôtel Bischofsheim, the residence of Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles, circa 1926. For this interior Frank employed a wide variety of textures and materials, including parchment, terracotta, oak, rock crystal, bronze, and straw marquetry. Photograph by Man Ray. © Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2018. Image: Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, p. 268.
Property of a Private European Collector ∆
4. Jean-Michel Frank
Table lamp circa 1925 Rock crystal, leather, paper shade. Height of rock crystal base: 7 1/2 in. (19.2 cm) Produced by Chanaux & Pelletier, Paris, France. Underside impressed J.M.FRANK/MADE IN FRANCE/6655. Together with a certifcate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank. Estimate $120,000-180,000 Provenance Private collection, acquired from the designer Thence by descent Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Art et Decoration, Paris, no. 65, March 1936, p. 93 for a similar example Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1980, pp. 72, 90, 121-22, 178, 181, 201 for similar examples Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: un décorateur dans le Paris des années 30, Paris, 2009, p. 13 for a similar example Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, pp. 129, 225, 268, 273, 301 for similar examples
Property of a Private European Collector ∆
5. Jean-Michel Frank
Large “Block” table lamp circa 1928 Mica-covered wood, leather, paper shade. Height of mica base: 8 3/4 in. (22.1 cm) Produced by Chanaux & Pelletier, Paris, France. Underside impressed J.M.F/4125. Together with a certifcate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank. Estimate $30,000-40,000 Provenance Private collection, acquired from the designer Thence by descent Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1980, p. 184 Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, p. 285
Property of a Private European Collector ∆
6. Jean-Michel Frank
Large “X” table lamp circa 1928 Terracotta, leather, paper shade. Height of terracotta base: 9 in. (23 cm) Produced by Chanaux & Pelletier, Paris, France. Underside impressed J.M.FRANK/MADE IN FRANCE/CP. Together with a certifcate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank. Estimate $30,000-40,000 Provenance Private collection, acquired from the designer Thence by descent Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1980, p. 178 Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: un décorateur dans le Paris des années 30, Paris, 2009, front cover Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, pp. 40, 319
Property of a Private European Collector ∆
7. Alberto Giacometti
“Vase ovale” circa 1939 Plaster, leather. 12 7/8 in. (33 cm) high Together with a certifcate of authenticity from the Comité Giacometti. Estimate $80,000-120,000 Provenance Jorge Born, Buenos Aires, circa 1939 Private collection Literature Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1980, p. 198 Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, illustrated p. 190
The present lot is registered by the Fondation Alberto and Annette Giacometti in the online Alberto Giacometti Database (AGD) under the number 2200.
The present vase was created for the mansion of Jorge Born. The heir to one of the greatest Argentine fortunes, Born had met Frank at his atelier in Paris in 1938 following the advice of a friend and chose Frank to design the interiors of his new modernist villa which sat on a golf course in the hills of Buenos Aires. This commission was one of Jean-Michel Frank’s last and most important projects. The furnishings and parchment-covered wall panels were completed in Paris and exhibited at the Porte de Versailles in early 1939 before being shipped to Argentina for installation. The present vase originally belonged to a pair that fanked the large bronze doors in the villa’s sitting room, each resting on an ivory-trimmed ebony semainier. Alberto Giacometti was not the only artist-collaborator on display in the villa. The period photographs show an Aubusson rug based on a Christian Bérard design, “Rodo” chairs designed by Paul Rodocanachi, and the gilt wood Dalí foor lamp designed by Salvador Dalí. However Giacometti’s lighting and objects predominated
the space, particularly in the dining room, for which the sculptor created a pair of impressive console tables surmounted by bas-reliefs and a pair of gilt plaster ceiling lights. Frank is believed to have discovered Giacometti’s work a decade earlier at the 1929 Salon des Tuileries exposition held at the Palais de Bois. Giacometti went on to design over seventy objects for Frank, including seventeen lamps, eleven foor lamps, thirteen vases, ten wall lights, and other small accessories. Giacometti assigned equal importance to his decorative works and sculptures. As he explained in a 1962 interview with André Parinaud, “For my livelihood, I accepted to make anonymous utilitarian objects for a decorator at that time, Jean-Michel Frank. […] it was mostly not well seen. It was considered a kind of decline. I nevertheless tried to make the best possible vases, for example, and I realized I was developing a vase exactly as I would a sculpture and that there was no diference between what I called a sculpture and what was an object, a vase!”
The present lot in situ in Jorge Born’s villa in Buenos Aires, circa 1939. Artwork © 2018 Alberto Giacometti Estate/Licensed by VAGA and ARS, New York. Photograph by François Kollar. Image: Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, p. 190
Property of a Private European Collector ∆
8. Alberto Giacometti and Jean-Michel Frank 1901-1966 and 1895-1941 “Bird,” mounted on box circa 1939 Ebonized wood, gilt-bronze. 3 1/4 x 7 1/8 x 4 3/8 in. (8.3 x 18.1 x 11 cm) Together with certifcates of authenticity from the Comité Giacometti and the Comité Jean-Michel Frank. Estimate $25,000-35,000 Provenance Jorge Born, Buenos Aires, circa 1939 Private collection Christie’s, New York, “Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design Including Magnifcent Tifany,” December 14, 2012, lot 56 Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2012, p. 343 for a similar example Emmanuel Guigon, ed., Bijoux d’Artistes: une collection, Milan, 2012, p. 92 for the bird
The present lot is registered by the Fondation Alberto and Annette Giacometti in the online Alberto Giacometti Database (AGD) under the number 2203.
9. Jean Royère
Rare wingback armchair circa 1950 Oak, coated canvas. 27 x 24 3/4 x 32 in. (68.6 x 62.9 x 81.3 cm) Estimate $120,000-180,000 Provenance Private collection, Beirut Thence by descent Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2000 Literature Lucien Farnoux-Reynaud, “Jean Royère,” Mobilier et Décoration, May 1937, p. 142 for a similar example Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean Royère, Paris, 2002, p. 53 for a similar example
The present armchair is documented in the Jean Royère papers held by the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris in the grands fauteuils fle as tracing plan no. 3.480.
10. Luigi Caccia Dominioni
Rare table lamp circa 1953 Painted aluminum, painted wood, brass. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm) high Manufactured by Azucena, Milan, Italy. Underside with manufacturerâ€™s paper label printed AZUCENA/ AZ/MOBILI E OGGETTI. Estimate $8,000-12,000 Provenance Private collection, Milan Literature Maria Antonietta Crippa, Luigi Caccia Dominioni: Flussi, spazi e architettura, Turin, 1996, p. 87 for a similar example Giuliana Gramigna, Repertorio Del Design Italiano 1950-2000: Per Lâ€™Arredamento Domestico, Turin, 2003, p. 33 for a similar example Alberto Bassi, Italian Lighting Design: 1945-2000, Milan, 2004, p. 53 for a similar example
Property from a Private Miami Beach Collection
11. Carlo Mollino
Unique pair of wall-mounted bedside tables from Casa Orengo, Turin circa 1949 Maple, glass, brass, painted steel. Each: 5 x 19 x 14 in. (12.7 x 48.3 x 35.6 cm) Executed by Apelli & Varesio, Turin, Italy. Glass produced by Vitrex, Italy. One glass shelf acid-etched VITREX. Estimate $150,000-250,000 Provenance Marquis Vladi Orengo, Turin, circa 1949 Acquired from the above Phillips, London, “Design,” September 26, 2013, lot 147 Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature “Casa verso la collina,” Domus, no. 265, December 1951, pp. 16-22 for images of the commission “The Baroque Spirit in a Modern House,” Interiors, no. 112, December 1952, pp. 88-91 for images of the commission Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, The Furniture of Carlo Mollino, New York, 2006, illustrated pp. 194, 225
The present lot is registered in the library of the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, as number CM 400. Phillips would like to thank Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari from the Museo Casa Mollino for their assistance cataloguing the present lot.
Carlo Mollino designed the present pair of bedside tables for the residence of Vladi Orengo, an Italian flmmaker and publisher of art books. For this interior Mollino eschewed foor-to-ceiling walls in favor of open transoms and folding doors. Long trough-like ceiling lights, reminiscent of architectural beams, ran from one room to the next, leading the eye across the space, while furniture, such as an audaciously cantilevered cabinet, subtly divided the main entrance from a seating area. The sum of these elements created a sense of unifed space; as Interiors noted in December 1952, “This single body, frmly bound by continuous elements which belong to the construction itself, is a composition to live in without any need for change.” Perhaps this theatrically organized space, divided by moving partitions and fooded with light, was also an homage to Orengo and his work in flm. A number of Mollino’s most iconic designs, such as his trestle dining table, his maple plywood “Arabesque” tables, and his adjustable daybed (sold at Phillips, New York, “The Collector: Icons of Design,” December 16, 2014, lot 17) come from this important interior. All of the furniture, which was executed by the Turin joinery frm Apelli & Varesio, played an integral role in the overall composition of the space and related to the other pieces. For example the swivel element on the bedside tables recalls the larger cabinet cantilevered at the entrance with rotating doors. Both pieces feature the combination of tempered glass with natural varnished maple, which he also used for the desk in the study, the dining table, and the “Arabesque” tables.
The living room of Casa Orengo, showing the cantilevered cabinet and the adjustable daybed. Domus no. 265, December 1951. Copyright Editoriale Domus S.p.A., all rights reserved.
While Casa Orengo was carefully planned as a continuous space, the dynamically poised furniture, from the tightly curved bentwood “Arabesque” tables to the cantilevered cabinet and even the diminutive swiveling bedside tables, also lent a sense of frisson to the interior that is so characteristic of Mollino’s furniture. Mollino achieved this dynamism by pushing materials and structures to their absolute limits. Mollino demonstrated this efect, though more subtly, with the present pair of bedside tables. The tables’ glass tops were designed to be fxed into the wall, efectively inverting the typical structure of a glass-topped table. That is, whereas typically a glass top rests on the underlying structure, in this case the glass becomes the structural component that supports the wooden base. Mollino’s inventive design relied on the strength of the tempered Vitrex glass, a material he experimented with widely. A photograph from the later 1930s shows Mollino standing on a piece of furniture to test, or perhaps demonstrate, the strength of tempered glass. The design also lends a sense of lightness and magic, as though the tables are hovering in space. Several other carefully considered details round out these miniature masterpieces: the varnished maple drawers pivot inwards on a brass pin, making it easier to access the contents while in bed, while a gently carved recess allows for easy access without disrupting the organic, pared-down form.
Carlo Mollino in the second half of the 1930s in Casa Miller, a studio designed by Mollino for himself. Mollino is shown here standing on top of a piece of furniture which he did not design, testing the strength of the tempered glass. Image courtesy of Museo Casa Mollino.
Property from a Brazilian Collection
12. Gio Ponti
Large covered vase designed 1925, executed 1929 Glazed and gilt porcelain. 26 1/4 in. (66.7 cm) high Produced by Richard-Ginori, Doccia, Italy. Underside of vase printed under the glaze RICHARD/GINORI/29 = 7. Further marked in enamel RICHARD-GINORI/ PITTORIA/DI DOCCIA. Top of rim printed 22 2C (partially obscured). Estimate $60,000-80,000 Provenance Private collection, Argentina Thence by descent to the present owner Literature Mario Labò, “Un renouveau de la céramique italienne: porcelaines et faiences de Richard-Ginori,” Art et Décoration, June 1926, p. 138 Paolo Portoghesi and Anty Pansera, Gio Ponti alla manifattura di Doccia, Milan, 1982, p. 40 Gio Ponti, ceramiche 1923-1930: le opere del Museo Ginori di Doccia, exh. cat., Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, 1983, p. 121 Gian Carlo Bojani, Claudio Piersanti, and Rita Rava, eds., Gio Ponti ceramica e architettura, exh. cat., Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, et. al., Florence, 1987, p. 21 Ugo La Pietra, ed., Gio Ponti, New York, 2009, p. 26 Laura Falconi, ed., Gio Ponti: Interiors, Objects, Drawings, 1920-1976, Milan, 2010, p. 37 Dario Matteoni, ed., Gio Ponti: il fascino della ceramica, fascination for ceramics, exh. cat., Spazio Eventi Grattacielo Pirelli, Milan, 2011, p. 136 for a drawing, p. 154
Preparatory sketch for the lid of the large covered vase. Artwork © Salvatore Licitra, Gio Ponti Archives. Image: Dario Matteoni, ed., Gio Ponti: il fascino della ceramica, fascination for ceramics, exh. cat., Spazio Eventi Grattacielo Pirelli, Milan, 2011, p. 136.
Artwork © Salvatore Licitra, Gio Ponti Archives. Image courtesy of Gio Ponti Archives.
In 1923, the young architect Gio Ponti was appointed the creative director of Richard-Ginori, one of Italy’s foremost ceramic manufacturers, with the objective to modernize the company’s production. The position, which Ponti held for nearly a decade while concurrently establishing his architectural studio, provided a signifcant opportunity early in the architect’s career to develop and promote his ideas of uniting art and crafsmanship with industry. Ponti’s inventive work for Richard-Ginori, whose porcelain production was based in Doccia and earthenware in San Cristoforo, extended from design to promotion, and refected his ambition to establish high-quality mass production within the decorative arts. During this period, Ponti shaped the foundation of his multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to design, developing his own highly profcient and imaginative ideas, realized through the frm’s economic and industrial resources and Ponti’s own facility for forming fruitful relationships with fellow artists, designers and artisans. Ponti presented designs for Richard-Ginori to both public and critical acclaim at the frst Monza Biennales in 1923 and 1925, the latter of which included the exhibition of the present model. Ponti’s designs for the frm also received the grand prize in the category of ceramics at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925. The markings on the present example indicate the porcelain blank was executed in July 1929, however the decoration could have been added later. Ponti’s designs for Richard-Ginori combine classicism with modernity, revealing his aspiration to renew the spirit of Italy’s rich cultural heritage—an impetus that can be traced throughout his prolifc career. Inspired by archaeology and classical architecture, Ponti reinterpreted the frm’s neo-classical iconography using a playful language, ofen imposing an element of humor and irony into his pictorial designs. Invigorating the frm’s characteristic Empire style, which he studied in RichardGinori’s archive, Ponti retained a simplicity of form and enriched the smooth surface of the porcelain with elegant, yet distinctly modern, decoration. Exemplifying his skillful ability to bring historical styles to life, Ponti surmounted the present vase’s classically-inspired bell-shaped form with an expressive fgurative design. Two mirrored fgures, whose theatrical, exaggerated outlines are entwined by their drapery and the surrounding stylized rinceau motif, form a synthesized composition suggestive of movement. Through the lightness and symmetry of the vase’s sinuous, pierced ornamentation, Ponti achieved an overall sense of balance and proportion, enhanced by the gilt decoration and simplicity of line, creating a dialogue between past and present, and art and industry.
Property from a Private Miami Beach Collection Σ
13. Gio Ponti
Illuminated “Parete Organizzata” circa 1955 Brazilian rosewood-veneered wood, painted wood, painted metal, glass, brass. 82 1/4 x 116 1/4 x 18 1/4 in. (208.9 x 295.3 x 46.4 cm) Executed by Giordano Chiesa, Milan, Italy. Glass produced by Vitrex, Italy. Each glass shelf acidetched VITREX. Reverse of two shelves impressed ARREDAMENTI/CHIESA/VIA MORTARA 17/MILANO (ITALIA). Together with a certifcate of expertise from the Gio Ponti Archives. Estimate $60,000-80,000 Provenance Primavera Gallery, New York Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell, New York, acquired from the above Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, “Moss: Dialogues Between Art & Design,” October 16, 2012, lot 8 Acquired from the above by the present owner Exhibited Ferdinand Lundquist, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1955 Literature “Mobili a Göteborg,” Domus, no. 307, June 1955, illustrated pp. 48-49 Ugo La Pietra, ed., Gio Ponti, New York, 2009, illustrated p. 188
The present lot exhibited at Ferdinand Lundquist, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1955. Artwork © Salvatore Licitra, Gio Ponti Archives. Image courtesy of Gio Ponti Archives.
Gio Ponti developed the concept of the “Parete Organizzata” (organized wall), a system for assembling shelves, lighting, and objects all within a single panel, in the late 1940s. The present version, created for an exhibition at the department store Ferdinand Lundquist in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1955, features two shelves for books of diferent sizes, a four-sided shelf for books and objects, a row of tempered glass shelves for magazines, and an illuminated niche. The Ferdinand Lundquist exhibition came on the heels of two major American exhibitions that Ponti participated in as part of a larger post-war promotional blitz on the part of Italy following World War II. Italy at Work: Her Renaissance in Design Today opened at the Brooklyn Museum in 1950 before going on a three-year tour to twelve other museums. The other exhibition, which took place in 1954 and was initiated by James Plaut at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston, was a solo show devoted to Ponti and also traveled to several diferent venues in the United States. In Gothenburg,
Ponti continued the momentum of the American tours, presenting his furniture designs alongside photographs of recent work by the studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Rosselli. Ponti also presented his industrial designs for Krupp Italiana and, ever the tireless promoter of Italian artisans, he included ceramics by Fausto Melotti and Guido Gambone, as well as Venini glass and enamels by Paolo de Poli. The “organized wall” served as the ideal promotional piece for these wares; it is a piece of furniture that inspires the collecting and display of treasured objects and books. The magazine shelves, made of the Vitrex glass so favored by Italian architects and designers of the era, ofered the perfect place to display infuential design journals such as Ponti’s own publication Domus. The “organized wall” was, in sum, an exhibition-ready, Italian-design-promoting machine and it served Ponti’s purposes so well that he made similar versions for subsequent exhibitions, such as the XI Milan Triennale.
14. Hans J. Wegner
“Peacock” easy chair, model no. JH521 circa 1953 Oak, fabric, leather. 39 1/2 x 34 3/4 x 34 1/4 in. (100.3 x 88.3 x 87 cm) Executed by cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Estimate $60,000-80,000 Provenance Private collection, Copenhagen, acquired circa 1955 Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2018 Literature Johan Møller Nielsen, Wegner en dansk møbelkunster, Copenhagen, 1965, p. 61 Grete Jalk, ed., Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 aar, Volume 3: 1947-1956, Copenhagen, 1987, pp. 245, 325 Jens Bernsen, Hans J. Wegner on Design, Copenhagen, 1995, p. 13 Noritsugu Oda, Danish Chairs, San Francisco, 1996, p. 106 Christian Holmsted Olesen, Wegner: just one good chair, exh. cat., Design Museum Denmark, Copenhagen, 2014, p. 107
The present model armchair, which later became known as the “Peacock,” belongs to Hans Wegner’s modernized “Windsor” series, which was executed by master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen. Wegner had always admired and was fascinated by the Windsor chair and he referred to it as “a simple construction, something the people of England were able to make 200 years ago. But it is also a distinctive design, precisely because it expresses what it is so naturally.” Wegner designed the original wooden “Peacock” chair in 1947, which had a magnifcent fanned and radiating back with ergonomically fattened spindles. The present model “Peacock” was celebrated by a critic for being “beautifully formed” when frst exhibited at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition in 1953. Mimicking the original “Peacock” the present model is an example of Wegner developing forms, but due to its complicated construction it was therefore too expensive to produce, so only a few were ever executed making this a rare production by Johannes Hansen. In 1955 the present model was shown again at the prestigious Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition where the stand was greeted with even more praise: “This year there was a strong note of masculinity and robustness in Wenger’s interior as well as in the individual pieces of furniture.”
15. Hans J. Wegner
“Roman” armchair circa 1960 Oak, leather. 28 1/4 x 29 1/4 x 19 5/8 in. (71.8 x 74.2 x 50 cm) Executed by cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Estimate $30,000-50,000 Provenance Private collection, London Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2005 Literature Johan Møller Nielsen, Wegner en dansk møbelkunster, Copenhagen, 1965, p. 77 Grete Jalk, ed., Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 aar, Volume 4: 1957-1966, Copenhagen, 1987, p. 123 Jens Bernsen, Hans J. Wegner on Design, Copenhagen, 1995, p. 23 Christian Holmsted Olesen, Wegner: just one good chair, exh. cat., Design Museum Denmark, Copenhagen, 2014, p. 143 for a similar version
The “Roman” chair belongs to Hans Wegner’s round chair series in which the designer collaborated with the master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen to produce a group of seating with tremendous top rails and of bovine nomenclature: the “Cowhorn,” “Bufalo,” and “Bull” chairs. These three designs were the antecedents to the “Roman” but all four were the descendants of the revered “Round” chair designed in 1950, which was immortalized by John F. Kennedy when he sat in one during a televised presidential debate. Designed in 1960, the “Roman” chair is the culmination of a decade of great design. In the same year the present model “Roman” chair was designed, it formed part of Wegner’s impressive stand at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition, where one critic stated: “it has the natural masculine appeal which is the hallmark of the master.” Another master and a contemporary of Wegner was Finn Juhl, the international Danish architect who was the progenitor of the harmonious top rail. His 1944 design for the “FJ 44” chair was a distinguishing infuence upon Wegner’s round chair series, but it was antiquity that had the greatest infuence as they were both inspired by the klismos chair from ancient Greece, hence the title “Roman” chair.
Property from an Important Private Collection, Colorado
16. Eugene Schoen
Important table from the Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) Roxy Theatre at Rockefeller Center, New York circa 1932 Monel metal, nickel, Duraluminum, glass. 29 1/2 x 60 3/8 x 30 1/4 in. (74.9 x 153.4 x 76.8 cm) Executed by Valentine Kromm, New York. Impressed with artist’s ES cipher within rectangle, further impressed with manufacturer’s cipher VK/NEW/YORK within rectangle. Estimate $60,000-80,000 Provenance Christie’s, New York, “Important 20th Century Decorative Arts,” December 15, 1984, lot 496 Acquired from the above Christie’s, New York, “Masterworks: 1900-2000,” June 8, 2000, lot 244 Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Alan Balfour, Rockefeller Center: Architecture as Theater, New York, 1978, illustrated fg. 265 Eva Weber, American Art Deco, London, 1985, illustrated p. 75 Karen J. Rigdon, “Eugene Schoen: Designs for Furniture 1927-1936,” (master’s thesis, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 1986), pl. 62 Dan Klein and Margaret Bishop, Decorative Art 1880-1980, Oxford, 1986, illustrated p. 207 Stephen Neil Greengard, “Interview: Alan Moss and the Revival of American Modernism,” The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Spring, 1989, illustrated p. 88
An Important Table by Eugene Schoen from the R•K•O Roxy Theatre Rockefeller Center was conceived shortly before the stock market crash in 1929 but survived despite diminished confdence in its ultimate proftability. Construction costs were low, and the need for employment opportunities transformed the endeavor from one of the nation’s largest capitalist projects to a privately funded presage to The New Deal. Now considered one of the most important developments in New York City’s planning history, Rockefeller Center was planned as an arts and entertainment destination (it was originally intended to house the Metropolitan Opera), a now familiar concept in New York real estate whose potential infuence was noted by Philippa Gerry Whiting in a February 1933 article in The American Magazine of Art: “This tremendous efort to make the arts an integral part of a great city building development cannot but have its efect upon their place in the country as a whole.” The planned opera house never materialized, and instead John D. Rockefeller Jr. joined forces with RCA to develop a diferent kind of performance complex that would include two theaters: the International Music Hall for vaudeville performances, and the Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) Roxy Theatre at Rockefeller Center, a smaller venue for flm. Donald Deskey won the competition to design both interiors, but due to the size of the project he subsequently contracted Eugene Schoen for the interior of the RKO Roxy Theatre. As a leader and advancer of American Modernism and a supporter of the manufacturing industry during a challenging period, Schoen was well-equipped for the job. He was once described as the “American Ruhlmann” by R. Craig Miller, as his furniture was ofen praised for its superior quality and similarly elegant interpretations of classical styles. There are further aspects of his successful career that parallel Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s, and elements of his designs strongly refect the infuence of French Art Deco and the Wiener Werkstätte. But notably, the two designers had very diferent production models: Ruhlmann oversaw his own ateliers while Schoen contracted production to diferent workshops and manufacturers of varying specialties for multiple markets. Maybe this is owed more to the fact that Paris and New York presented diferent contexts for design businesses. Skyscrapers might have been a popular motif in American interior design in the late 1920s, but they were also manifestations of the same changing economy that informed industrial and interior design in equal measure. Schoen also must have seen himself and his business
diferently than Ruhlmann did. He took a leadership role in the advancement of modernism in the United States through engaging the most talented designers and artisans in the commission for the RKO Roxy Theatre and others, his participation in infuential exhibitions such as The Metropolitan Museum’s “The Architect and the Industrial Arts” in 1929, and his patronage of so many manufacturers who created furniture for a diverse clientele. The present table was created for the ladies’ powder room on the second mezzanine of the RKO Roxy Theatre. The design of the room followed a formula typical of American modernist interiors of this period, where modular veneeredwood case furniture and upholstery would line the perimeter and delineate sections of the room. Colored and patterned wall coverings, upholstery fabrics and carpets set the stage for table lamps, cocktail sets, tea and cofee services, ashtrays and other decorative and functional objects. These objects were typically designed in metal or glass, refective
Exterior of the RKO Roxy Theatre, circa 1932. Photograph by Fay S. Lincoln. Used with permission from the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Penn State University Libraries.
The present table in situ in the ladies’ powder room in the RKO Roxy Theatre, circa 1932. Photograph by Fay S. Lincoln. Used with permission from the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Penn State University Libraries.
distinctly American approach to modernism who was able to amalgamate various inspirations, and who had the latest manufacturing technologies and materials at his disposal.
surfaces that would stand out against their cohesive surroundings. The model interiors of this period (those documented in department store and museum exhibitions) would ofen feature at least one metal table, usually in a central or highly visible location. A 1933 article in The Metal Arts describes the particular use of metal (specifcally Monel or other white metals) in this context, reasoning “frst that a white metal is required for its color in carrying out many schemes of interior treatment in the Modern Style, and second, that the comparative plainness of modern interiors calls for a note of accent that is so well supplied by the gleam of this metal as distinct from the efect of metals that tone-in with their surroundings.” The ladies powder room of the RKO Roxy Theatre was hardly reserved in its decoration, with tan and blue Rodier fabric-covered walls, burnt orange upholstery and large circular mirrors. And yet the present table was unmistakably its centerpiece and features prominently in the period photographs by Fay S. Lincoln. The table design brings together several points of infuence to striking efect. The more classically inspired strand of French Art Deco is demonstrated by its oval form and lower decorative stretcher. The exposed construction of the visible screws introduces a machine age vocabulary. In her thesis “Eugene Schoen: Designs for Furniture 1927-1936,” Karen Rigdon points out that the table displays aeronautic motifs in the glass wing-like form of the legs and the circular stretcher, which she likens to the nose cone of an airplane. Rigdon describes this feature as representative of a turning point in the aesthetics of Schoen’s work: “from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s Schoen’s designs turned from a vertical orientation, characterized by the city sky line, to the impersonal sleek contours associated with high speed vehicles.” And yet for all these characteristics familiar to the period, the table was neither limited by dogmatic principles of international style modernism, nor was it born of an avante-garde movement. It was designed by a proponent of a
The fnest expressions of American modernism can be found in the metalwork of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and the metal architectural ornament, public sculpture, furnishings and interior fxtures of Rockefeller Center have come to defne the aesthetic of the period in New York. The innovative combination of diferent types of metals in the present center table is refective of recent advancements in metalwork which were behind many of Rockefeller Center’s most famous features. The table was executed by Valentine Kromm, who has been connected with the William O. Chapman Company that is believed to have produced the recently re-discovered cocktail table designed for “The Architect and the Industrial Arts” exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the same year (sold at Phillips, Design Evening Sale, December 12, 2017, lot 225) and the famous étagère designed for Henry Root Stern circa 1929 (now in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art). On the basis that his productions for Schoen are so distinguished by their elegance and precision, Kromm is believed to have produced these two related earlier works during his tenure at the William O. Chapman Company. It may seem surprising that perhaps the fnest piece of furniture in the entire theater, arguably of Schoen’s entire career, was secluded in the ladies’ powder room. The only other examples of Schoen’s work that are comparable in quality of design and construction are those he specifcally designed for important private collections or museum showcases, such as the aforementioned étagère and cocktail table. Schoen was a talented designer, but he was also a pragmatic businessman and a savvy marketer. His decisions about where to place these rare examples were intended to advertise his services and the fne crafsmanship available from his manufacturing partners. It is no coincidence that his contribution to the 1929 show at the Met was a “show window and sales alcove.” In his essay in the accompanying publication he details his lighting schematic, in service to “[enabling] the merchant to show his goods in a dynamic way, as changing interest plays an important part in display.” And so it is understandable why he chose to include this masterwork in a room designed for women to congregate, where they might be able to pause to admire the furnishings in an intimate environment. The RKO Roxy Theatre was his most elaborate showcase, and this room aforded the maximum visibility for pieces designed to attract potential patrons. Into this context Schoen placed a table of unparalleled design and construction. While the RKO Roxy Theatre was sadly the only building in the original Rockefeller Center to be demolished, luckily it is survived by this table so wholly representative of its time and place.
Property of Cristobal Egerstrom
17. Luis Barragán
Pair of stools from the Cuadra San Cristóbal, Mexico City circa 1966 Pine, leather. Each: 18 x 18 1/4 x 14 in. (45.7 x 46.4 x 35.6 cm) Estimate $20,000-30,000 Provenance Folke and Anne-Marie (Ami) Egerstrom, Atizapán de Zaragoza, Mexico City, circa 1966 Thence by descent to the present owner Literature Antonio Riggen Martínez, Luis Barragán: Mexico’s Modern Master, 1902-1988, New York, 1996, p. 215 Federica Zanco, ed., Luis Barragán: The Quiet Revolution, Milan, 2001, pp. 9, 215 Lily Kassner, Chucho Reyes, Mexico City, 2001, p. 125
Luis Barragán seated in his studio on the present model stool. Artwork © 2019 Barragán Foundation, Switzerland/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image: Esther McCoy papers, 1876–1990, bulk, 1938–1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Since its completion in the late 1960s, Luis Barragán’s Cuadra San Cristóbal has featured prominently in the imagination of disciples of 20th century modern architecture. Its extraordinarily photogenic vistas of pink and earth-tone walls, sculpted trees, and horses cooling of in the fountain, are unforgettable images. Yet photographs rarely capture the true vastness of the courtyard and the ranch is an even more magical experience in real life than these iconic images suggest it to be. Barragán’s spaces and graphic compositions demand to be captured in a frame, while at the same time provoking an emotional response that cannot ever be fully described in two dimensions. In recent years the Cuadra San Cristóbal has been the site of contemporary art installations and fashion advertising campaigns. With that exposure has come revived interest, and the current owners have graciously opened its gates to increasing numbers of visitors. It has steadily become the ultimate destination for architectural historians and infuencers alike. Commissioned by Folke Egerstrom to design a home for his family of equestrians and their horses in the early 1960s, Barragán completed the Cuadra San
Cristóbal in 1968, the same year as the Mexico City Summer Olympics. Barragán worked with his frequent collaborator Andreas Casillas on a plan for the family’s house; the grounds and the stables had already been completed. Notably, Barragán did not design the interior of the home, deferring to the family’s preference to create their own environment. And so the sole furnishings produced for this important project were for El Albardonero, a room at the far end of the stables, which was used for informal social gatherings and decorated with antique Mexican saddles. All of the furniture that Barragán had made for the room was delivered together in 1966, before the larger project was fnished. The design of the stools undoubtably originates from a traditional Mexican “milking stool,” likely specifc to the ranches of Guadalajara, Barragán’s birthplace. Scholarship on Barragán continues to develop in exciting ways, and his seating designs pose fascinating, and at times challenging, questions for historians. Some designs for chairs, particularly the more formal or upholstered examples, are considered solely his authorship, some were acquired readymade from local artisans, and others were most
The Cuadra San Cristobal stables and horse pool photographed in 1976 by Rene Burri. Artwork © 2019 Barragán Foundation, Switzerland/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Rene Burri/Magnum Photos. Image courtesy of Magnum Photos.
likely born of the kind of collaboration or points of infuence that defne his larger body of work. Barragán used the present model in various projects, perhaps most famously in his own home and studio. An early photograph of him at his drafing table shows him perched on a similar stool, and an example can be found in Casa Barragán, on the second foor in a room ofen referred to as the music room. Perhaps the earliest documentation of the form is in the home of one of his most frequent collaborators: the artist, antiquarian, collector and colorist, Jesus “Chucho” Reyes. It is possible that Reyes, or another member of Barragán’s circle, such as Clara Porset, might have infuenced the design of these stools and other seating, given their shared interest in traditional Mexican furniture forms. Barragán’s collaborations with Casillas, Reyes and Porset as well as with other important fgures, such as Mathias Goeritz and Ricardo Legorreta, played a crucial role in the creation of his greatest masterworks. His integrative approach to architecture and furniture design is also found in his merging of the vernacular, Catholicism and international style modernism. This unique formula is evident in the present pair of stools, with their familiar form in a proportion that could only have been drafed by an architect.
Important Design from a Private New York Collection
18. Ron Arad
“Blo Void 4” 2006 Polished and anodized aluminum, aluminum mesh. 48 1/4 x 18 3/8 x 76 1/2 in. (122.6 x 46.7 x 194.3 cm) Produced by the Gallery Mourmans, Maastricht, the Netherlands. Number 1 from the edition of 6 plus 2 artist’s proofs. Incised Ron Arad 1 / 6. Estimate $70,000-90,000 Provenance Barry Friedman, New York Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2006 Literature The Dogs Barked, exh. cat., de Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich, 2006, n.p. Sophie Lovell, Limited Edition: Prototypes, One-Ofs and Design Art Furniture, Basel, 2009, p. 180
Phillips would like to thank Caroline Thorman from Ron Arad Associates for her assistance cataloguing the present lot.
Ron Arad’s “Blo Void 4” belongs to a family of seating in which the London-based, Tel Aviv-born designer explored the design potential of high-tech and sometimes unconventional materials. The dimensions and proportions of each version from the group vary but all adhere to the same basic form: that of a rocking chaise longue composed of two joined ellipses. For the frst version, created in 2003 as part of the “Paperwork” collection, Arad used carbon fber. He then experimented with Corian—a hard-wearing plastic more ofen associated with kitchen countertops than high-design furniture—layering the material with an adhesive tinted in a contrasting color, which, when carved into the chaise form, achieved an undulating wood grain pattern not unlike Japanese mokume. With other versions Arad alternated layers of clear and opaque acrylic, creating fascinating patterns of light. For the “Voido” chair, which is manufactured by the Italian frm Magis and is the only version that is not a limited edition, Arad chose rotational-molded polyethylene.
Despite these wide-ranging explorations into new materials, metal has always been central to Ron Arad’s practice as a designer, from his earliest creations in welded scrap steel, to the present lot, “Blo Void 4,” which is composed of superplastic aluminum, a state-of-the-art aluminum alloy frst developed for the aeronautics industry. When heated superplastic aluminum can be stretched to several times its original size and can be mold-blown into an infnite variety of shapes and sizes, all the while maintaining the desirable characteristics of aluminum such as strength and lightness, as well the ability to achieve a high polish and to take on a tinted color through anodization. Arad took advantage of these characteristics with “Blo Void 4,” a volumetric form that almost appears to hover weightlessly in space, the blue anodization gracefully outlining the shape under a fne layer of aluminum mesh.
19. Scott Burton
Pair of “Perforated Metal Chairs” 1989 Aluminum. Each: 33 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 34 in. (85.1 x 62.2 x 86.4 cm) From the edition of 5 plus 2 artist’s proofs. Estimate $60,000-80,000 Provenance Dorothy and Lewis Cullman, New York Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 2010 Literature Ana Maria Torres, Scott Burton, exh. cat., Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, 2004, illustrated p. 233
Among the best-known examples of works that bridge the ethereal divide between art and design are the seating sculptures of self-proclaimed “public sculptor” Scott Burton. Aesthetically aligned with Minimalism, Burton’s pieces found infuence in the socially utopian ideologies of the international movements of de Stijl, the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism. Burton sought to democratize art and encouraged the audience’s physical engagement with his creations, and, through a series of collaborations with architects, corporations and private clients, Burton’s goals came to fruition as he secured several commissions for public seating sculptures nationwide. The move made Burton’s work available and accessible to anyone, sat upon and experienced by anyone, and still viewed and elevated as fne artistic output. Burton’s seating sculptures were ofen made from just one single, self-supporting material. While he worked in a variety of materials including granite, steel and wood, from 1980-1981, Burton designed “Aluminum Chair,” a sculptural seating design made of sharp-angled aluminum sheet with large perforations—a sort of homage to nineteenth-century and 1930s burgeoning modernist industrial design—and synthesized it into a contemporary object. The present lot, created nearly a decade later, is the result of the refnement of this concept. The pair shown here comprises two sheets of aluminum formed as sinuous ribbons, with smaller perforations to again show the plasticity of the design and suggest movement. The chairs are meant to be both sculptural and functional and refect and highlight the purpose and beautiful simplicity of the design. Burton once quipped: “I want to get some social meaning back into art. And I’d like to help change art into some kind of design.” Achieved in such a short career, the present lot is an excellent manifestation of these aspirations.
Wendell Castleâ€™s Environment for Contemplation
Property from an Important American Collection ○◆
20. Wendell Castle
Unique and important “Environment for Contemplation” 1970 Stack-laminated oak, fock-covered fberglass, fockcovered wood, fabric. 49 3/4 x 137 3/4 x 65 1/4 in. (126.4 x 349.9 x 165.7 cm) Estimate $250,000-350,000 Provenance Acquired from the artist by the present owner, 2007 Exhibited “Contemplation Environments,” Museum of Contemporary Crafs of the American Crafs Council, New York, January 20-March 8, 1970 “Wendell Castle,” Gallery Gimbels East, New York, February 1972 “AutoPlastic: Wendell Castle 1968-1973,” R 20th Century, New York, April 20-June 15, 2004 “Wendell Castle Wandering Forms—Works from 1959-1979,” The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefeld, October 19, 2012-February 20, 2013 and then traveled to Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, September 27, 2013-February 2, 2014 “Wendell Castle Remastered,” Museum of Arts and Design, October 20, 2015-February 28, 2016
Literature Paul Smith, Contemplation Environments, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Crafs of the American Crafs Council, New York, 1970, illustrated p. 25 “Some New Dodges or Rooms to Ponder,” New York, January 26, 1970, illustrated p. 58 “Time for Spaces,” Time, February 2, 1970, illustrated p. 43 “Environment: Tune-Out, Turn-In, Take-Of,” Architectural Forum, March 1970, illustrated p. 20 Gamal El-Zoghby, “Designed for Contemplation,” Craf Horizons, March/April 1970, illustrated p. 15 Barbara Plumb, “The Space Shapers,” American Home, May 1970, illustrated p. 38 Davira S. Taragin, Edward S. Cooke, Jr., and Joseph Giovannini, Furniture by Wendell Castle, exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts, et. al., New York, 1989, illustrated fg. 8 Donald Albrecht, AutoPlastic: Wendell Castle 1968-1973, exh. cat., R 20th Century, New York, 2004, illustrated pp. 5, 14-16 Wendell Castle: Rockin’, exh. cat., Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, 2010, illustrated p. 10 Alastair Gordon, Wendell Castle Wandering Forms— Works from 1959-1979, exh. cat., Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, New York, 2012, illustrated pp. 4-5, 182, 207-10, pp. 184, 205 for sketches Emily Evans Eerdmans, Wendell Castle, A Catalogue Raisonné 1958-2012, New York, 2014, illustrated p. 78 Glenn Adamson et. al., Wendell Castle Remastered, exh. cat. Museum of Arts and Design, New York, 2015, illustrated p. 59
In the Zone: Wendell Castle’s Environment for Contemplation, 1970 by Glenn Adamson
In the dead of winter, 1970, the Museum of Contemporary Crafs invited its visitors to take a trip. The destination was Contemplation Environments, curated by the museum’s director Paul J. Smith1 Designed by the architect Gamal el-Zoghby, the show included sixteen artist-designed spaces;2 ticketing was limited, in order to ensure that each visitor could experience the exhibition “in relative isolation and quiet.”3 Collectively, Contemplation Environments encompassed everything that the counterculture was ever meant to be, and more. References to Tibetan Buddhism mixed freely with space age novelties. There were meditation chambers—one of woven fber, one of fresh turf, one outftted with an oscilloscope and a “negative oxygen ion” emitter. One booth, lined with stones and moss, featured an interactive, electronic I Ching. Plastic was much in evidence, in the shape of water-flled spheres, fberglass chairs with soundtracks, and two vertical columns with an “air shower” and a “stroboscopic crystal waterfall.”4 What can I say? I’m sorry you missed it. Right at the heart of the show, up on the mezzanine, was Wendell Castle’s Environment for Contemplation. It must have stood out in a show of immersive, immaterial experiences; this was an object, albeit a big one that you could crawl inside. Made using Castle’s signature stack lamination technique—in which boards are individually shaped, glued together, and then carved to fnal form— its ample curves could be those of some previously undiscovered beast, the ofspring of a small dinosaur and a Bactrian camel. One side opens up via a biomorphic door, revealing an interior upholstered with black shag carpet. Up top, fanking an orifce-like skylight, are two domes (they were abbreviated from a single curved, handle-like form that Castle had initially envisioned for the design). They are covered in black focking. So is the cloud-like fberglass tail, which extends from one end of the pod; its undulating contours would not be out of place in a Peter Max poster. Sit down inside, and a pressure-sensitive plate is activated, turning on the exposed bulb: Do not disturb. Enlightenment in progress.
Castle, we should remember, was no hippie. Born and raised in Kansas, he was the hardest working man in the furniture business. By 1970, he was already at the height of his powers. Private commissions were fowing in, and he was riding high on the success of Objects: USA, the omnibus exhibition orchestrated by Castle’s New York dealer, Lee Nordness (with considerable assistance from Smith). The massive show had opened in Washington DC the previous year, and was at that moment on its national tour, with Castle ofen singled out as one of the most exciting exhibitors. Meanwhile, he was pushing the boundaries of his own practice. He had recently launched one of America’s frst lines of injection-molded plastic furniture, as well as a collection of hand-fabricated fberglass lamps, which bear more than a passing resemblance to the EfC’s lighting element. Castle’s forms were radically unfamiliar, but also warm and approachable; he was able to appeal to many diferent audiences simultaneously. At the same time that he was showing in Contemplation Environments, he was working on large-scale corporate commissions. The emerging scholar Kayleigh Perkov has recently argued that this popularity was partly due to his fusion of individualism and systems thinking—both highly respected virtues at the dawn of the Information Age, for companies and counterculture alike.5 Thus, Castle was very diferent from the other exhibitors in Contemplation Environments, both by context and disposition. He was plenty tuned in, but it is difcult to imagine him dropping out. And though he had a tremendous capacity for fights of fancy—an imaginative intensity that stayed with him throughout his life—he also drew upon deep wells of Midwestern pragmatism. So, as far as psychedelia was concerned, he was an onlooker, not a participant. The EfC is consistent with this. If the other displays in the exhibition were meant to blow your mind, Castle ofered a gentler provocation, inviting visitors to consider what an ideal “environment for contemplation” would be. Would it really look like this? A womb with a view? Yes, you could get inside and close the door. But mainly, the EfC is something to look at, and wonder about: a sculptural meditation on the theme of inner voyage.
Wendell Castle at work on Environment for Contemplation. Artwork © The Estate of Wendell Castle. Image courtesy of American Craf Council Library & Archives.
Wendell Castle, sketch for Environment for Contemplation, 1969. Artwork © The Estate of Wendell Castle.
Each element of the work plays a part within this playful symbolism. The main stack-laminated body suggests a primordial cavern, translated into a contemporary idiom. Its bulbous, slightly tapered shape is determined by the interior seating space— room to stretch out—while also evoking the streamlined, “teardrop” stylings of 1930s industrial design. Those objects had seemed to hurtle forward in space even while standing still, an idea that was faintly ridiculous when applied to radios and toasters, but totally appropriate here. The two black domes lend the work a sci-f favor; they could be receiving some transmission from another dimension. Most dramatic is the illuminated, muscular black conduit that stretches out of the form, curving downwards to fatly meet the foor. It’s as if the whole object were plugged in to some subterranean wellspring, and energy were pulsating up into it. Interestingly, during the same months that Contemplation Environments was on view at the Museum of Contemporary Crafs, the Museum of Modern Art (just next door on 53rd Street in Manhattan) was also presenting a series of immersive environments. Simply entitled Spaces, this pioneering exhibition of minimalist and conceptual art included such luminaries as Michael Asher, Larry Bell, Dan Flavin, and Robert Morris. The editors of Craf Horizons drew an interesting distinction between the two shows. The MCC’s own project, they wrote, was an antidote to the hectic environs of New York City. A kind of public service, it was meant to “lead the participant to a personal
serenity and self-awareness as a relief from the sensory tensions of urban life.”6 MoMA’s exhibition, by contrast, was intended “not to soothe the visitor, but to compound the tensions inherent in artworks.” This juxtaposition between two museums—one seeking to relieve unspecifed “tensions,” the other to heighten them—perhaps speaks to the stereotypical opposition between craf and fne art that prevailed at that time. But there was also truth in the comparison. Spaces was austere, intellectually challenging. Contemplation Environments was spectacular, eager to please.
Neke Carson, Moon Man Fountain, 1969, another work included in the 1970 exhibition “Contemplation Environments” at the Museum of Contemporary Crafs, New York. Artwork © Neke Carson. Photograph by Philippe Halsman. Image courtesy of Halsman Archive.
In his visual essay on the theme of meditation, Castle met the artists at MoMA halfway. Assertively material and entirely accessible, the EfC could not have been mistaken for conceptual art; yet it also a sophisticated intellectual proposition, an object good to think with. Looking back at the confuence of exhibitions, it is striking how they mirror a fundamental divide in perceptions about the counterculture. Did geodesic domes, communes, mind-altering drugs, and free love amount to one big escapist fantasy? Or were they a genuinely transformative force, with the potential to reshape society for the better? The answer, of course, is a little of both; and the brilliance of the EfC is how it bridges these seeming oppositions. Depending on one’s point of view, it could come of as a spiritual vehicle to a higher plane, or a humorous send-up of that very idea. It is both cartoonish and profound, a thought bubble and a hand-crafed monument. In its contradictions, it seems to encapsulate America at the dawn of the 1970s: a moment absurd and inspiring in equal measure. Amazingly enough, none of this makes it feel dated. Indeed, the EfC was far more visionary than the more explicitly futuristic projects in Contemplation Environments. In the show, and indeed in America, Castle was unique in forging a synthesis of technical experimentation, handcraf, and speculative thinking. Today, fve decades on, that is essentially the formula for advanced design. In the EfC, Castle responded to the cultural winds that blew his way, while remaining steadfastly himself; in the process, he pointed toward a new frontier for design. That, in itself, is something to contemplate.
1 Smith, a reliably sensitive antenna for cultural currents throughout his tenure at the museum, recalls that at the time he had become interested in yoga and Transcendental Meditation, and had come to know many artists who shared these interests; author’s interview with Smith, 5 September 2018. 2 Born in Egypt, El-Zoghby was based in New York and though still relatively young, had begun establishing himself with residential spaces (including his own) featuring multiplatform, “totally coordinated living environments.” He was for many years a professor of architecture at Pratt Institute. See Rita Reif, “It Wasn’t Easy Selling People on the Idea,” New York Times (13 January 1971). 3 Press release for “Contemplation Environments,” January 1970. American Craf Council archive. 4 Contemplation Environments (New York: Museum of Contemporary Crafs, 1970). 5 See Kayleigh Perkov, “Recurring Aesthetics, Emergent Traditions: Wendell Castle’s Continued Relevance to Corporate Culture,” Journal of Modern Craf 11/1 (March 2018), p. 3-15. 6 “Designed for Contemplation,” Craf Horizons 30/2 (March/April 1970), p. 13.
Wendell Castle with Environment for Contemplation during construction, 1969. Artwork © The Estate of Wendell Castle. Image courtesy of The Estate of Wendell Castle.
Property from an Important American Collection ○◆
21. Wendell Castle
Unique “Chaise Rocker” 1962 Oak, leather. 34 1/4 x 28 3/4 x 60 in. (87 x 73 x 152.4 cm) Interior of runner incised W.C. 62. Estimate $100,000-150,000 Provenance Acquired from the artist by the present owner, 2005 Exhibited “Please Be Seated: Masters of the Art of Seating,” Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, February 4-March 12, 1995 Literature Alastair Gordon, Wendell Castle Wandering Forms— Works from 1959-1979, exh. cat., Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, New York, 2012, illustrated pp. 56, 58-59 Emily Evans Eerdmans, Wendell Castle, A Catalogue Raisonné 1958-2012, New York, 2014, illustrated p. 87
Property from an Important American Collection ○◆
22. Wendell Castle
Unique “In God We Trust” chair 1964 Oak, leather. 42 1/2 x 28 x 46 in. (108 x 71.1 x 116.8 cm) Underside incised W.C. 64. Front stretcher inscribed IN GOD WE TRUST. Estimate $60,000-80,000 Provenance Acquired from the artist by the present owner, 2006 Exhibited “The American Crafsman,” The Museum of Contemporary Crafs, New York, May 22-September 12, 1964 “Crafsmen Beyond New England,” Addison Gallery, Phillips Andover Academy, Andover, November 13-December 27, 1964 “1965 Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition,” Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, May 14-June 13, 1965 Literature Paul Smith, The American Crafsman, exh. pamphlet, The Museum of Contemporary Crafs, New York, 1964, listed p. 4 1965 Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition, exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York, 1965, illustrated p. 6 “The New American Crafsmen: First Generation,” Craf Horizons, June 1966, illustrated p. 19 Alastair Gordon, Wendell Castle Wandering Forms—Works from 1959-1979, exh. cat., Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, New York, 2012, illustrated p. 55 Emily Evans Eerdmans, Wendell Castle, A Catalogue Raisonné 1958-2012, New York, 2014, illustrated p. 91
Property from a Private Collection, Detroit
23. Jun Kaneko
Untitled 1988 Glazed ceramic. 38 in. (96.5 cm) high Estimate $20,000-30,000 Provenance Hilberry Gallery, Ferndale, 1989 Private Collection, Detroit Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Jun Kaneko, â€œOn Being an Artist,â€? Ceramics Monthly, June-August, 1988, illustrated p. 57
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection
24. Harry Bertoia
Monumental “Sonambient” sounding sculpture circa 1977 Inconel, brass. 85 x 12 x 12 in. (215.9 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm) Together with a certifcate of authenticity from the Harry Bertoia Foundation. Estimate $100,000-150,000 Provenance Fairweather Hardin Gallery, Chicago, acquired from the artist, 1978 Hokin Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1981 Literature June Kompass Nelson, Harry Bertoia Sculptor, Detroit, 1970, fg. 72 for similar examples Nancy N. Schifer and Val O. Bertoia, The World of Bertoia, Atglen, 2003, throughout for similar examples Gilberto Granger, ed., Harry Bertoia: Decisi che una sedia non poteva bastare, Milan, 2009, pp. 37, 40, 71, 114, 119, 185-87 for similar examples Celia Bertoia, The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia: the Man, the Artist, the Visionary, Atglen, 2015, throughout for similar examples
During the early 1960s, Harry Bertoia moved away from furniture design and began focusing on more sculptural works. His exploration into sound sculpture, a process he called “Sonambient,” added a new dimension to his fuency in materials. These bold and dynamic sculptures, ranging from a few inches to twenty feet tall, incorporate a fat drilled metal base ftted with metal rods made from bronze, beryllium copper, aluminum, Monel, or in the present example, Inconel and brass. The musicality of the sculpture is embedded within the dexterity of the materials when they are moved together. Each sculpture has a unique reverberating tonal quality. Adjacent to his studio in Bally, Pennsylvania, Bertoia created a Sonambient Barn, which was a space dedicated to arranging and experimenting with his sounding sculptures. In addition to using his hands to stretch, bend and strike the sculptures, he was also interested in how they responded to natural elements. “I build sculptures that can move in the wind, or that can be touched and played,” Bertoia said. The material and scale of each piece creates a distinctive emotion Bertoia described as, “Joy, sufering, happiness, sorrow—if you happen to have a bit of metal in your hands, you just shape it.” Through his investigation of various dimensions and materials Bertoia taught himself to play these sculptures like an instrument, which eventually led to his creation of Sonambient orchestras. He later released a series of albums that have since become renowned in the world of experimental sound art. The experiential and physical nature of Bertoia’s “Sonambient” sculptures, in addition to their elegant aesthetic, add to the meditative sounds created by this monumental designer and artist.
Harry Bertoia with a group of his sounding sculptures, late 1960s. Artwork © 2018 Estate of Harry Bertoia/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image: June Kompass Nelson, Harry Bertoia Sculptor, Detroit, 1970, fg. 72.
Property from a Private Miami Beach Collection
25. Tifany Studios “Wisteria” table lamp circa 1905 Leaded glass, patinated bronze. 28 1/8 in. (71.4 cm) high, 18 1/4 in. (46.4 cm) diameter Designed by Clara Driscoll (1861–1944). Interior of shade with three tags impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS, NEW YORK, and 342-1, respectively. Mounting post on underside of shade crown impressed 7879. Underside of base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/ NEW YORK/342. Estimate $450,000-650,000 Provenance Private collection, Europe Christie’s, New York, “Important Tifany,” December 15, 2010, lot 241 Acquired from the above Phillips, New York, “Design Masters,” December 11, 2012, lot 26 Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature Margaret Hofer, Martin Eidelberg and Nina Gray, A New Light on Tifany: Clara Driscoll and the Tifany Girls, exh. cat., New-York Historical Society, London, 2007, cover, p. 48 Alastair Duncan, Tifany Lamps and Metalware, Sufolk, 2007, p. 67 Margaret Hofer with Rebecca Klassen, The Lamps of Tifany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, pp. 86-87
The wisteria fower is deeply associated with Louis Comfort Tifany through his home, Laurelton Hall, as well as through his leaded glass windows in which they ofen appeared as a framing device, a glittering background or the main event. Tifany anchored himself within the artistic trends of the time through his impressionistic interpretation of the fowering vine native to East Asia. Emblematic of Tifany Studios’s fnest productions, the “Wisteria” lampshade design is in fact one of his lead designer Clara Driscoll’s most noted artistic and commercial accomplishments. Produced from 1901 to 1910, it was the most popular and expensive of the four lamps with irregular edges that were intended to pair with tree bases. The “Wisteria” lamp design held so much opportunity for artistic expression and indeed the form has been interpreted in a myriad of color schemes. The present example displays a highly naturalistic glass selection refecting the true colors of the wisteria fower. On a ground of sofly mottled pink, oyster white and pale, silvered lavender, its deep purple blooms are punctuated by lower cerulean petals. The slender tapered shapes of individual blossoms are delicately modeled within individual pannicles. This painterly depiction of the various types of wisteria calls to mind the tunnels of the Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu, Japan with its alternating arcs of wisteria in variegating colors. A crown containing emerald green and striated amber leaves forms a crisp composition as it descends over a delicate foral curtain. With this thoughtful treatment sky blue hues drif over the shade, a dynamic efect created by the light from the purple glass shining through the more translucent pannicles.
A Fine Collection of Marvelous and Early Important Masterworks by the Martin Brothers
Diversity and Intensity by Malcolm Haslam
All pieces of pottery made by the Martin brothers are distinctive, most are excellent, some outstanding. The four pieces on ofer here are the crème de la crème. They all owe much of their brilliance to the genius of Robert Wallace Martin (1843-1924), the eldest of the four brothers, the founder of the pottery, and an artistic talent to rival any other Victorian sculptor. His eccentric imagination, combined with mental determination and prodigious manual skill, created an œuvre which is awesome, both in its diversity and its intensity. These four pieces represent a microcosm of that diversity. The clock case is architectural, a functional object, decorated with mostly fat pattern. Then there are the two birds, slyly humorous, pretending to be tobacco-jars but patently impractical as such. At several further degrees of remoteness from the utility of the clock case, comes the crab with a human face, a surreal monster which is totally nonfunctional, pure sculpture created to amuse but also to terrify. It is this diversity of style which has drawn in over the years so many collectors who themselves, perhaps, have only one thing in common—an aesthetic appreciation beyond the conventional. The intensity of Wallace’s creations is revealed in each of these four pieces. A dramatic intensity is achieved not only through the sheer scale of the clock case, but also through the density of its ornament. The bird made in 1883 also impresses through its size; it wears an expression so intensely human, yet remains so irrefutably avian, that one is forced to
laugh without being quite sure what one is laughing at, which is the essence of true humor. The caricature of Sir Edward Clarke regards you with such an intensely inquisitorial eye that one feels oneself quaking in the witness box before a barrage of searching questions, only able to give a series of contradictory answers. The crab is, quite simply, intensity itself, realized in stoneware; the reality of its intensity seems to be almost the only thing about the creature which is real. To create such a monster takes the extreme imagination that its maker possessed—or, rather, which possessed its maker. Between them the four pieces reveal two primary sources of infuence which helped to mold Wallace’s imagination. Like so many minds, then and now, his fell under the spell of Christopher Dresser’s ideas. Wallace was precisely the sort of under-privileged art-worker at whom Dresser aimed his writings; Principles of Decorative Design (1873) was based on a series of lectures which Dresser had “prepared especially for those noble fellows who, through want of opportunity, have been without the advantages of education, but who have the praiseworthy courage to educate themselves in later life, when the value of knowledge has become apparent to them.” He adopted two slogans, “Knowledge is Power” and “Truth, Beauty, Power,” and his insistence on power as an important ingredient of art may well have helped to raise the level of intensity in Wallace’s work. In Studies in Design (1874-1876), Dresser wrote: “The drawing of all grotesques must be vigorous and energetic.
Human caricatures as birds, drawing from the Martin Brothers studio, circa 1895. Image: Malcolm Haslam, The Martin Brothers Potters, London, 1978, p. 89.
Grotesques must be expressed with such force and power as will give to them apparent reality, however impossible their formation may be.” The signifcance of this passage to Wallace’s grotesque animals and birds is clear, although his sculpted fgures are very diferent to Dresser’s two-dimensional designs, usually conceived in rational, geometrical terms. Alongside Dresser’s tenets, Wallace’s mind held another artistic creed: a Ruskinian belief in nature and the art of the Middle Ages. This too had a profound infuence on his imagination. He probably read much of John Ruskin’s literary output as it was issued, but when he went to work as an assistant to the sculptor Alexander Munro in 1861 he might well have come face to face with the great man himself, who was godfather to one of Munro’s children and a frequent
visitor at the sculptor’s studio in Buckingham Palace Road. Many other visitors called at the studio; Rossetti, Lewis Carroll, and George MacDonald, the author of Phantastes (1858) were all intimate friends, and Edward Lear sometimes dropped by. How much of the medievalism and surreal humour which laced their talk was absorbed by Wallace can only be a matter of conjecture, but it was apparently enough to act as an antidote to Dresser’s rationalistic formalism. Robert Wallace Martin’s pottery is a cocktail of these and probably other theories about art held by progressive Victorian thinkers. Somehow, into this mix was poured a large measure of religious fanaticism. The magnifcent results of this alchemy can be seen in the diversity and intensity of the work which remains with us today to be cherished and enjoyed.
Property from a Private Collection
26. R. W. Martin & Brothers Exceptional and monumental mantel clock case January 1878 Salt-glazed stoneware. 28 1/2 in. (72.5 cm) high Reverse incised R Wallace Martin/Southall/ Middlesex/1-1878 and 70, and interior clock face incised R W Martin/Southall/12 1878. Estimate $30,000-50,000 Provenance Sotheby & Co., London, “Nineteenth and Twentieth Century English, Continental and Oriental Ceramics and Works of Art,” June 15, 1971, lot 86 Roy Aitken, Esq. Sotheby’s Belgravia, “A Large Collection of Martin Brothers Stoneware: The Property of Roy Aitken, Esq.,” April 19, 1978, lot 20 Richard Dennis, London John S. M. Scott, Esq., London, 1978 The Fine Art Society, London Sinai and Sons, London, 2014 Acquired from the above Exhibited “The Martin Brothers Potters,” Sotheby’s Belgravia, London, September 16–October 14, 1978 “The John Scott Collection: Decorative Arts from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries,” The Fine Art Society, London, June 11–20, 2014 Literature The Martin Brothers Potters, exh. cat., Sotheby’s Belgravia, London, 1978, p. 5, no. 81 Malcolm Haslam, The Martin Brothers Potters, London, 1978, illustrated p. 12 The John Scott Collection: British Art Pottery, Volume 3, exh. cat., The Fine Art Society, London, 2014, illustrated p. 26
The Martin brothers had arrived at the site of their new works near Southall in April 1877. They had quickly built their kiln, but the frst three frings had been unsuccessful. In October they had almost completely relined the kiln, and another fring had been carried out in December; this time, much better results had been achieved. So January 1878, when this clock case was made, must have been a time of jubilation for the brothers, particularly for Robert Wallace whose dream of an independent working pottery had at last been realized. The future was bright, and, he hoped, proftable. This clock case, 28 1/2 inches tall and decorated all over with incised and carved ornament, has a distinct air of proud celebration. It makes a statement: “We’ve arrived, and we’re open for business!” It is formally signed on the back in a large framed panel—almost poster-like. The whole piece it seems to proclaim what the Martin brothers are capable of doing. Size? No problem; ornament, incised, carved or modeled to order; architectural features a specialty; and everything carried out to the highest technical standards and in the most up-to-date styles.
If the piece can be read as a proud, almost boastful, manifesto, it also represents a summation of Wallace’s artistic career up to that time. His frst job as a stonemason working at the Palace of Westminster in the later 1850s is recalled by some of the Gothic ornament and architectural features. The clock case might be seen as a sort of curvaceous Big Ben, and perhaps childhood memories of the great clock tower rising into the sky, practically on the doorstep of the house in Bridge Street where he was born, were in his mind’s eye as Wallace diligently constructed this elaborate piece. The profound infuence of Christopher Dresser’s theories and designs, which afected Wallace’s work during the 1870s, is clearly recognizable in the profusion of geometrical ornament which covers just about every surface. Even the foral ornament on the front of the case suggests Dresser’s example, although it might equally portend the new decorative style known as “canal bank” which was to characterize so much of the Martin brothers’ production at Southall. The clock case is a transitional piece, at once a proud review and a confdent forecast, an important document indeed in the history of the Martin brothers’ pottery.
Christopher Dresser, detail of Library ceiling, Allangate, Halifax, England, circa 1870. Photograph by Alastair Carew-Cox. Image courtesy of Alastair Carew-Cox.
Property from a Private Collection
27. R. W. Martin & Brothers Massive mendiculus aquatic bird jar and cover January 1883 Salt-glazed stoneware, ebonized wood. 21 1/8 in. (53.5 cm) high Collar incised Martin London + Southall. 1. 1883 and body incised R.W./Martin/London/1.1883. Underside of base inscribed MARTIN BRO/LONDON. Estimate $100,000-150,000 Provenance Allen Harriman and Edward Judd, Los Angeles Sotheby’s, New York, “The Harriman Judd Collection: British Art Pottery,” January 22, 2001, lot 300 Jonny’s Antiques (Jonny Kalisch and James Bisback), Ontario Judith Morgan, Canada Wilkens Auction, Toronto, “Fine & Decorative Arts,” November 30, 2016, lot 2109 Sinai and Sons, London, 2016 Acquired from the above Literature Garth Clark, The Potter’s Art: A Complete History of Pottery in Britain, London, 1995, illustrated p. 125
One of the largest “Wally-birds” ever made, this rather meditative example testifes to an unusually fourishing period in the history of the Martin brothers’ pottery. A measure of commercial success in the early 1880s gave Robert Wallace Martin the opportunity to develop his grotesques and experiment with tobacco jars in the form of strange—but very human—birds. An account of the Martins’ work, written by Holbrook Jackson for T.P’s Magazine in 1910, discusses Wallace’s bird-jars and proposes humor as their chief motivation and achievement. He comments: “Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear thought along the same lines as Wallace Martin; they dreamed similar dreams, only Wallace Martin has dreamt them in clay.” But did Wallace have a hidden agenda? When, as a young assistant, he had worked for the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Alexander Munro in the early 1860s, he might well have met both Carroll, one of Munro’s intimate friends, and Lear who sometimes dropped by the studio. He might too have become aware of, perhaps even browsed through, Thomas Wright’s book A History of Caricature and the Grotesque, published in 1865, which contained a lengthy chapter on medieval carvings. It was also in 1865 that Wallace joined the Plymouth Brethren who totally rejected any sort of ecclesiastical organisation. So he would have read with delight Wright’s assertion that medieval grotesque art ofen carried an anticlerical message, either overt or hidden. “The popular feeling against the clergy,” Wright stated, “was strong in the middle ages, and no caricature was received with more fervour than those which expressed the
immorality or dishonesty of a monk or a priest.” Moreover, at Munro’s studio, Wallace would have heard, if he had not already known, about an instance of such lampooning in modern times, for amongst the ornament of the new Oxford Museum (for which Munro made statues of several leading scientists) the stonemason O’Shea had caricatured members of the university Convocation as parrots. Some of Wallace Martin’s birds are modeled as tonsured monks, while others caricature pillars of the establishment such as judges or generals. There is, more ofen than one had perhaps realized, a subversive element in these tobacco jars, an element Wallace would have been loathe to disclose to the mostly middle-class readers of T.P’s Magazine. Who knows which parson, magistrate or major-general has been morphed by Wallace into this magnifcent, giant bird?
The Central Hall of the newly opened Natural History Museum, London, circa 1882. © Natural History Museum, London/Science Photo Library. The present lot, possibly a whimsical interpretation of a penguin, was produced by the Martin Brothers shortly afer the opening of London’s Natural History Museum in 1881. Leading the momentous project, the natural scientist Sir Richard Owen sought to house the British Museum’s natural history collection in what he described as a “cathedral to nature” that was accessible and free to the public. The Romanesque building, designed by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, features extensive ornamentation throughout, illustrating extinct and living animals in sculpture and relief carving, and fora and fauna, including the 162 botanically-decorated tile panels of the museum’s Hintze Hall. The collection of the museum refected the expanse of the nineteenth-century British Empire and the accompanying new discoveries from this global exploration, which captured the attention of the British public, and seemingly that of Robert Wallace Martin.
In Good Company by Glenn Adamson
Picasso and the Cubists. Diana Ross and the Supremes. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The annals of history are flled with singular fgures who were surrounded by lesser talents, those supporters who are essential to the success of a genius but nonetheless eclipsed by it. So it was with Robert Wallace Martin (1843–1923) and his hardworking brothers. Even among ceramic specialists, Wallace’s role as the visionary of “Martinware” is underappreciated. The pottery was a team efort, but it was he, and he alone, who made it extraordinary. By rights, he should be seen as one of the most original sculptors of the nineteenth century.
Wallace’s idiom is so distinctive as to seem sui generis, but it is possible to make comparisons to other fgures of the era. Most directly, his menagerie of zoological characters recalls the iconic illustrations that John Tenniel and Henry Holiday provided for the works of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll (who would have met Wallace when the future ceramist was a teenager, assisting sculptor Alexander Munro). His works were keen political caricatures, in the tradition of Punch or even the satirical works of Honoré Daumier. And readers of A. S. Byatt’s recent novel A ChildrenÕs Book may have seen something of this obsessive potter-sculptor in the fctional character of Benedict Fludd.
Robert Wallace (seated sculpting), with Edwin, Walter and Charles Douglas Martin, circa 1910. Image: Malcolm Haslam, The Martin Brothers Potters, London, 1978, p. 128.
But if there is one person to whom Robert Wallace Martin ought to be compared, it is George E.Ohr (1857– 1918). At frst, the comparison may seem an odd one. The “mad potter of Biloxi” was a generation younger than Wallace Martin, and an ocean apart. Wallace’s greatest skill was as a fgurative artist; Ohr was an experimental abstractionist. Martinware is generally muted in tone, with a traditional stoneware palette of blue, gray and brown. Ohr did make bisqueware (all the better to show of the speed of his throwing) but he delighted in thinly applied jewel tone glazes. Wallace modeled his creatures by hand, while Ohr always began with the wheel as his form generator. Yet beyond these obvious diferences, there was a remarkable similarity between the two men.They had their key creative periods simultaneously, in the 1880s and ‘90s (Ohr, though younger, was quicker of the mark). Both were supremely driven, with challengingly eccentric personalities: Wallace, a devout but idiosyncratic spiritualist; Ohr, a fervent believer in his own surpassing virtuosity. Neither ft neatly into the idiom of “art pottery” then being established on the continent, instead charting a wholly original pathway. In particular, they anticipated the key dynamic of modern studio ceramics, in which serial production is made to serve the exigencies of constantly varying invention. Most important of all—and unsurprisingly, given that they were so ahead of their time—neither was properly understood in their own day.
The story of Ohr’s long-delayed discovery is the stuf of legend; it was not until an enormous trove of his pots was found in 1968 that his achievement, utterly neglected for decades,became known. The tale of Martinware is slightly less extreme. Several examples—albeit in the safer historicist and Japonist idioms—had entered the South Kensington Museum collection by 1888. The pottery attracted the attention of periodicals, and of early collectors such as Sydney Greenslade, Frederick John Nettlefold, and Ernest Marsh—who eventually acquired nearly 1,000 examples. Selections from these collections were published in the 1930s and ’40s. Yet as Malcolm Haslam has noted, Martinware was by then well out of favor, singled out for disapproval by infuential fgures such as Bernard Leach and Wingfeld Digby. Arguably, it is only in the past decade or two that Wallace, like Ohr, has really come to be appreciated. The present high standing of Martinware in the secondary market is an indication of this, of course; but as ever, the highest proof of relevance is the interest of living artists. Just as Ohr has inspired daredevil manipulation among today’s ceramists, such as Kathy Butterly and Anne-Marie Laureys, the inspired grotesquerie of Martinware seems an obvious precedent for the burgeoning forms of Kate Malone, or even the pots of Grayson Perry. Indeed it seems probable that the reappraisal of Robert Wallace Martin is still in its early stages. His conceptions fairly burst with imaginative life. They are still amongst us; it will be interesting to see what they get up to next.
Property from a Private Collection
28. R. W. Martin & Brothers Sir Edward George Clarke QC caricatured as a tall distinguished fantastical bird jar and cover February 1898 Salt-glazed stoneware, ebonized wood. 15 1/8 in. (38.4 cm) high Collar incised Martin Bros/London + Southall/2-1898, base incised 2-1898/Martin Bros/London + Southall, and frm’s printed paper label MARTIN BROS./ POTTERS,/16. BROWNLOW ST.,/HIGH HOLBORN,/ LONDON and James Bourlet & Sons Ltd. printed paper label. Together with period photograph signed and dated E.C 7.11.1925. Estimate $150,000-250,000 Provenance Sotheby’s, Belgravia, “Studio Ceramics,” November 8, 1973, lot 487 Dr. Washington, 1973 Richard Dennis Gallery, London Sotheby’s, Belgravia, “Studio Ceramics,” July 12, 1979, lot 219 William E. Wiltshire, London Sotheby’s, London, “The William E. Wiltshire Collection,” November 18, 1991, lot 80 John S. M. Scott, Esq., London The Fine Art Society, London Sinai and Sons, London, 2014 Acquired from the above
Exhibited “The Martin Brothers Potters,” Sotheby’s Belgravia, London, September 16-October 14, 1978 “The John Scott Collection: Decorative Arts from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries,” The Fine Art Society, London, June 11-20, 2014 “Fantastique,” Sinai and Sons, Masterpiece, London, June 25-July 1, 2015 Literature The Martin Brothers Potters, exh. cat., Sotheby’s Belgravia, London, 1978, p. 19, no. 333 Malcolm Haslam, The Martin Brothers Potters, London, 1978, illustrated p. 132 The John Scott Collection: British Art Pottery, Volume 3, exh. cat., The Fine Art Society, London, June 11 - 20, 2014, illustrated cover, pp. 34-35 Timothy Brittain-Catlin, “Full House, Every Inch of John Scott’s Notting Hill Home...,” The World of Interiors, July 2014, illustrated p. 103 Fantastique, exh. cat., Sinai and Sons, London, 2015, illustrated pp. 48-49
Robert Wallace Martin may have felt some sort of kinship to Sir Edward Clarke (1841-1931). They were born in the City of London, less than half a mile apart, and within two years of each other, Clarke being the older man. Both had shown a ferce independence of spirit and a determination to succeed in their chosen, albeit very diferent, careers. Wallace’s caricature of the famous barrister emphasizes the narrowness of Clarke’s eyes (whether that was a natural feature or a forensic gimmick) and has not spared his victim’s tendency towards corpulence as he had grown older and more successful. Sir Edward had stood for the defense in several high profle cases, including the so-called Royal Baccarat Case, in which he had famously crossexamined the Prince of Wales, and, most notably, the three trials of Oscar Wilde in 1896. There is a contemporary photograph of this bird along side another bird with a note on the verso of the print, in Clarke’s handwriting, that identifes this piece as a caricature of himself, and the other as a caricature of the Liberal prime minister William Gladstone. Wallace always kept abreast of the major news topics of the day and sometimes drew on them as a source of inspiration for items of pottery. For example,
when the public was avidly devouring newspaper stories about polar expeditions, Wallace made several of his so-called “Eskimo” jugs. As well as bird-jars caricaturing Clarke, Gladstone, and Disraeli, there were low-relief portrait plaques of Queen Victoria, commemorating her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. At the height of the political debate over tarif reform, in the early years of the twentieth century, Wallace modeled a face-jug with Arthur Balfour caricatured on one side, and Joseph Chamberlain on the other. It should be remembered that one of the many jobs Wallace had afer abandoning his formal education was working as an ofce-boy for a parliamentary reporter in Westminster. Wallace maintained a keen interest in current afairs right up to the end; Sydney Greenslade, visiting the pottery during WWI, found Wallace (then in his seventies) modeling a three-handled mug commemorating the destruction of a zeppelin, and carving an allegorical group with personifcations of Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and Turkey riding a grotesque beast. By then, of course, Walter and Edwin were dead and the pottery virtually defunct. Fortunately, this bird-jar caricature of Sir Edward Clarke was sculpted, colored and fred when the Martin brothers’ skills were at their zenith.
Period photograph illustrating the present work and inscribed on the reverse by Sir Edward George Clark, Sent me by Mr. Arthur May who says he was told by the late Mr R. W. Martin that they were caricatures of me (lef) + Mr. Gladstone and signed E.C 7.11.1925.
Chromolithograph of “Sir Edward”’ by “Spy” (Sir Leslie Ward). Image: Vanity Fair, June 11, 1903.
Property from a Private Collection
29. R. W. Martin & Brothers Colossal and extraordinary grotesque grinning crab June 1880 Salt-glazed stoneware. 8 1/4 x 16 1/8 x 18 1/8 in. (21 x 40.8 x 46 cm) Incised RW Martin + Brothers/London/6.80 and RW MARTIN. Estimate $250,000-350,000 Provenance Private collection, UK Richard Dennis Gallery, London John S. M. Scott, Esq., London, 1985 The Fine Art Society, London Sinai and Sons, London, 2014 Acquired from the above Exhibited “Masterpieces from the John Scott Collection,” The Fine Art Society, The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, March 13-23, 2014 “The John Scott Collection: Decorative Arts from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries,” The Fine Art Society, London, June 11-20, 2014 “Fantastique,” Sinai and Sons, Masterpiece, London, June 25-July 1, 2015 Literature “Martinware and ‘The Middleman’,” Pall Mall Gazette, February 4, 1890, p. 3 for a drawing Masterpieces from the John Scott Collection, Volume 1, exh. cat., The Fine Art Society, London, 2014, illustrated p. 33 The John Scott Collection: British Art Pottery, Volume 3, exh. cat., The Fine Art Society, London, 2014, illustrated p. 11 Fantastique, exh. cat., Sinai and Sons, London, 2015, illustrated pp. 45-46
At frst sight, just the physical presence alone of this grotesque delivers a powerful shock, which needs to be absorbed before its other qualities can be appreciated. Then the technical mastery of the carving and modeling will immediately be recognized, and no less a crafsman than the seventeenth-century potter John Dwight comes to mind. Robert Wallace Martin was well aware of Dwight’s work; he made a copy of Dwight’s stoneware portrait of his deceased daughter Lydia, and Wallace, working in the 1870s at Fulham, where Dwight’s pottery had been located, probably felt himself part of the Dwight inheritance. He would have made the quality of Dwight’s virtuoso carving the benchmark for his own work, and he would surely have studied the small statuettes of ancient gods made by Dwight which were on view at the British Museum. But it is not only technical virtuosity which makes Dwight’s work outstanding; the expressive power of his stoneware cultures is just as notable. The feeling of grief and loss conveyed through Lydia’s portrait, and the sense of autocratic power which characterizes his stoneware portrait of Prince Rupert, invest Dwight’s
work with an emotive force that Robert Wallace Martin has succeeded in emulating in this fgure of a crab with a human face. The emotions which the human crab shows in its eyes and mouth, and in the gesture of its claws, are complex, and they refect the troubled spirit of the age. The arrival of the machine as the predominant means of production, together with an exponential growth of scientifc knowledge, had become a thorn in the fesh of nineteenth-century morality. The feeling that humanity had lost its natural superiority over the rest of creation gnawed at the intellectual consciousness of the Victorian mind, an uneasiness ofen made apparent in works of art and literature. This fgure of a human face trapped and distorted in the body of a crustacean belongs to a tradition which has its roots in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), was continued in such later manifestations as H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), and has persisted into our own era in movies such as David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). The human face that Wallace has locked within the body of a crab wears an expression of faux jollity mingled with embarrassment and even terror. That Wallace has managed to convey such a subtle mix of human emotions, in the context of a grotesque composition, is a tribute not only to his awareness of the philosophical angst besetting contemporary intellects, but to his technical ability to translate this angst into common stoneware.
Opposite page: The present lot illustrated in “Martin-ware and the ‘Middleman,’” Pall Mall Gazette, February 4, 1980. Afer seeing the play “The Middleman” by Henry Arthur Jones at Shafsbury Theater, London, the contributor to the Pall Mall Gazette, founded 1865, was inspired to seek out an authentic experience of a real potter’s fery kiln, which was so masterfully depicted on stage. The author of the Pall Mall Gazette article, eponymously titled the “The Middleman”, gives a vivid and incantatory account of his experience when visiting the kiln of the Martin Brothers to see how it compared to all of the theatrics and blandishments that were adorned at Shafsbury Theater. Not only does the article have a wondrous illustration of the present lot, it also depicts two of the brothers, Charles and Walter, at work and contextualizes two contemporaneous cultural and artistic events, while favorably promoting the Martin Brothers: “Martin-ware is a unique and successful revival of the old Grès de Flandres and Grès Céramique—that splendid industry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is unique because there has been no “middleman” concerned in it. From the frst these four brothers have designed, thrown, modelled, decorated, fred, and sold their pottery themselves; and it is successful because of its intrinsic beauties, and not in consequence of persistent advertisement.” In his 1936 book on Frederick John Nettlefold’s revered collection of Martinware, Charles R. Beard notably makes reference to the Pall Mall Gazette article, recounting the contributor of the paper’s visit to brothers’ Southall kiln and the afrmation of Jones’ accuracy in his theatrical staging of “The Middleman”.
Sale Information Design Sale Auction and Viewing Location 450 Park Avenue New York 10022 Auctions 13 December 2018 Day Sale Auction 2pm Lots 101–214 Evening Sale Auction 5pm Lots 1–29 Viewing 9 – 13 December Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm Sunday 12pm – 6pm Sale Designation When sending in written bids or making enquiries please refer to this sale as NY050218 or Design Day Sale and NY050318 or Design Evening Sale. Absentee and Telephone Bids tel +1 212 940 1228 fax +1 212 924 1749 firstname.lastname@example.org
Auction License 2013224 Auctioneers Hugues Joffre - 2028495 Sarah Krueger - 1460468 Henry Highley - 2008889 Adam Clay - 2039323 Jonathan Crockett - 2056239 Kaeli Deane - 2058810 Samuel Mansour - 2059023 Rebecca Tooby-Desmond - 2058901 Catalogues Amy Pokora +1 212 940 1324 email@example.com $35/€25/£22 at the gallery Client Accounting Sylvia Leitao +1 212 940 1231 Michael Carretta +1 212 940 1232 Buyer Accounts Dawniel Perry +1 212 940 1371 Seller Accounts Carolina Swan +1 212 940 1253 Client Services 450 Park Avenue +1 212 940 1200 Shipping Anaar Desai +1 212 940 1320 Photographers Kent Pell Byron Slater Matthew Kroening Jean Bourbon Marta Zagozdzon Ben Anderson
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Front cover Eugene Schoen, Important table from the Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) Roxy Theatre at Rockefeller Center, New York, circa 1932, lot 16 (detail) Back cover Jean-Michel Frank, Table lamp, circa 1925, lot 4 (detail) Property from an Interior Designed by Muriel Brandolini In situ photography: Pieter Estersohn
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Design 21 March 2019, London Berkeley Square, London W1J 6EX Public viewing 15–21 March 2019 Monday to Saturday, 10am–6pm Sunday, 12pm–6pm Enquiries Madalena Horta e Costa firstname.lastname@example.org
George Nakashima ‘Minguren I’ cofee table, circa 1976
Index Aalto, A. 157
Garouste, E. 172
Arad, R. 18
Gatard, D. 134
Giacometti, A. 7, 8
Baas, M. 209
Holl, S. 174, 175
Niemeyer, O. 179, 180 Parisi, I. 111, 112, 121 Pearson, R.H. 186
Bertoia, H. 24
Poli, F. 116 Ponti, G. 12, 13, 103, 105, 106,
Barragán, L. 17 Ingrand, M. 101, 120
113, 114 Price, K. 178
Blomstedt, M. 155 Bonetti, M. 172
Jeanneret, P. 128, 132, 135,
Prouvé, J. 124, 126, 127, 129,
Bonner, J. 166
136, 139, 140
Burton, S. 19
Jensen, A.M. 182
Puiforcat, J. 196, 197
Jensen, R. 208 Campana, C. 181
Johansson-Pape, L. 183
Quarti, M. 110
Campana, F. 181
Jolain, M. 137, 138
Quinet, J. 125
Castle, W. 20, 21, 22, 168, 169
Jouve, G. 141
Chale, A. 150
Judd, D. 177
Rasmussen, K. 208 Rietveld, G.T. 176
Chareau, P. 198 Cloutier, J. 151
Kaneko, J. 23
Royère, J. 3, 9, 143, 145, 146, 147,
Cloutier, R. 151
Kuroda, T. 161, 162
148, 149, 201 Ruhlmann, É.J. 195
Comte 187 Cormier-Fauvel, C. 200, 202 Delisle, R. 163, 164
Lauritzen, V. 158 Le Corbusier 136
Saxe, A. 171
Lelii, A. 104, 118, 123
Scarpa, C. 122 Schoen, E. 16
Dickinson, J. 152 Dominioni, L.C. 10
Malmsten, C. 159
Sottsass Jr., E. 165
Donat, I. 193, 194
Maloof, S. 184, 185
Stilnovo 107, 109, 119
du Plantier, M. 153
Martin, R. W. & Brothers
Szekely, M. 203, 210, 211, 212
Durenne, A. 188
26, 27, 28, 29
Ernst, M. 182
Massier, C. 190
Tifany Studios 25
Matégot, M. 133
Tynell, P. 154
Mayodon, J. 192 Fedora Design 214
McKie, J.K. 166, 167
Van Der Straeten, H. 204, 206,
Fornasetti, P. 115, 117
Meister, H. 173
Frank, J.M. 4, 5, 6 , 189
Mendini, A. 170
Vautrin, L. 1, 2, 144
Frankl, P. 191
Miotte, J. 142
Fukami, S. 160
Mogensen, B. 156 Mollino, C. 11
Wegner, H. 14, 15
Moltzer, K. 205
Wright, F.L. 199
26. R. W. Martin & Brothers
175. Steven Holl
170. Alessandro Mendini
176. Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
167. Judy Kensley McKie
Phillips presents the Design Evening Sale on 13 December 2018 in New York.