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“Obsession is a Virtue”

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“TAKE THE RIDE. LET THE OBJECTS TOTALLY POSSESS YOU” Looking back on his retail days, Moss, now 71, says: “I understood I was on a conveyor belt, which is why I called the store Moss. Once you call it ‘20th-century design’, you can’t ever sell anything else. To be on brand, it simply needed to be in my head. Barry [Friedman] was very much like that. I took courage from him.” “I’ve always been a collector,” says Friedman, whose passion was sparked by a purchase he made in 1966 – a vase by Loetz, a Bohemian glass manufacturer from Austria that flourished in the early 1900s. That exchange revealed the thrill of buying and selling, and the young accumulator was hooked. “I usually collected first, then studied it. Collecting gives you knowledge. I seldom took things on consignment,” Friedman adds. The Loetz transaction inspired Friedman to continue with his new obsession by renting a booth at a New York antiques center on the Upper East Side. In 1970, he was prompted, along with two partners, to open Primavera Gallery on Madison Avenue, specializing in Art Deco furniture, jewelry, and decorative arts. Several iterations followed, including Barry Friedman Ltd, which opened in 1975, staged in his apartment-cum-showroom and installed with stunning, soon-to-be-discovered treasures. An early adopter, Friedman helped establish a market for iconic 20th-century designers such as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Wiener Werkstätte disciple Josef Hoffmann, and architect Jean Prouvé, to name a few. In the mid-1980s, Friedman partnered with photo dealer Edwynn Houk to exhibit vintage images by Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy

(Above) Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, Red, blue, and yellow Schelling high chair, 1918, executed in the early 1920s (Opposite) Barry Friedman. Photo: Erwin Olaf

Profile for Sanford L. Smith + Associates

Salon - The Intersection of Art + Design