Art market

Fair report: International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, New York. “Haute Modernism” and antiquities at the forefront

With American classical furniture and decorative arts in close second place


Fair organisers Brian and Anna Haughton have again proved their success with top international dealers, showing them off in the stylish surroundings of the Seventh Regiment Armory. By the second day of the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, several exhibitors had already found their stands close to being sold-out.

First-time fair participant, London dealer Richard Philp sold a 1600 portrait of two young sisters in intricate green dresses, for $100,000 and a fourteenth-century wood carving of St John with its original polychrome intact for $60,000. He also sold a painting by the Anglo-French artist Edward Le Bas (1904-66) for $37,000.

Brussels dealer Philippe Denys sold 70% of his booth that included a vast array of silver by Hoffman, Jensen and Puiforcat. Two Hoffman champagne flutes once owned by Andy Warhol went for $60,000. “What’s different this year is the demand for later silver, such as that by the Italian Albini, as well as the unglazed pottery of the Danish Patrick Nordstrom (1870-1929),” reports Mr Denys. Pottery, with fine lids by the royal bronze-maker Knud Anderson (1875-1940), sold for $6,000-9,000 apiece. Philippe Denys also sold an Art Deco mahogany and aluminium bar by Jean Desny from 1930 for $55,000.

“Usually we find that either important furniture or pretty decorative objects predominate in any particular year,” said Mallett director Henry Neville, “but this time, both are selling briskly.” Examples at the fair included a large mahogany bookcase with a gilded brass grill doors made for the Prime Minister of Ireland, Sir Hugh Gratton, in 1815, with a price of $275,000 and a pair of 1810 mahogany dumb waiters with brass fretting for $150,000. Also sold were a pair of English nineteenth-century stone elephants at $70,000, in line with the current craze in New York for garden ornament. Mallett also sold a large number of cut crystal containers. “Ninety percent of the sales were to New Yorkers,” adds Mr Neville.

If there is a furnishings trend, it is what Americans refer to as “haute Modernism”. Bob Vallois, who has just opened a gallery in New York with Barry Friedman, sold two thirds of their works at the fair. Within hours of opening night, he had disposed of an unusual pair of plaster lamps by Alberto Giacometti: a trio of tapering spherical forms, the lamps went for a stunning $113,000. Also sold were a pair of Rateau bronze table lamps in Giacometti’s typically elongated form, a highly unusual lacquered lamp by Jean Dunand, plus two pedestal tables by André Groult, one with a shagreen top, were picked up by American clients. Vallois also sold a desk by Ruhlmann in brushed stainless steel—the ultimate power statement—priced at $420,000, as well as a daybed by Ruhlmann in macassar ebony with delicate ivory elements and silvered bronze rectangular feet ($310,000).

Stylish sales took place at Ciancimino, where a gilded brass console with a travertine top by Jean Royère sold for six figures (in the region of $100,000-120,000) on the first day of the fair. This sale demonstrates American enthusiasm for Royère’s simple designs. According to gallery spokesperson, Heike Hamacher, Ciancimino also sold a macassar table with a shagreen top in a sunburst design by Louis Jallot. The stand also featured a set of small nesting tables with rectangular legs in gilded bronze at $55,000, setting new benchmarks in pricing for Royère.

Classical American furniture sold well for New York dealer Carswell Rush Berlin. Among the items at his stand which went quickly were a typical dining table, chairs and a girandole mirror, carved with an eagle and four dragons, the last priced at $60,000.

Paintings dealers were not in abundance at this year’s fair, but Paris gallery Philippe Cazeau-Jacques de la Beraudière witnessed spirited interest. On reserve were a still-life by Pierre Bonnard, “Nature morte à la bouteille de vin rouge”, in burnt orange, deep yellow, grey and white palette, which was priced at $1.5 million. In addition, a small Bonnard gouache of a bouquet of flowers ($110,000) and a famous Max Ernst, formerly in the Filipacchi collection, “La nuit sans Ende”, a surrealistic landscape from 1940 ($1,250,000), were on hand.

Antiquities were particularly strong this year. Sales of Egyptian hand axes from the upper paleolithic period appear to be the power tools of the moment. Frederick Schultz sold four priced at less than $5,000 each. “They were deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1940s,” he says. “Today, clients look on them as sculpture.”

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘“Haute Modernism” and antiquities at the forefront'