Archive for April, 2014

Auction | Architect-Built Furniture

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Ettore Sottsass
Bookcase, 1994

Plastic-laminated wood.
Produced by Galerie
Mourmans, the Netherlands.
Estimate £6,000 > 8,000



The Architect
Phillips
Exhibition 23rd > 29th April 2014
Sale 29th April 2014
London | UK

Some 400 works designed by an august pantheon of international architects – among them, Michael Thonet, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Eliel Saarinen, Gerrit Rietveld, Poul Henningsen, Arne Jacobsen, Gio Ponti, Oscar Niemeyer, I M Pei, Buckminster Fuller, Ettore Sottsass, Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid and Shiguru Ban – encompassing items from the mid-19th century up to the 21st, will be auctioned next week in London.

For this inaugural event, uncompromisingly entitled The Architect, the auction house Phillips chose architect Lee F Mindel FAIA, of the New York-based multi-award-winning Sheldon, Mindel & Associates Inc, as curator. SM&A, who, since establishing their company in 1978, have designed numerous lofts and private homes – including one for musician Sting and his actress/producer wife Trudie Styler – were also responsible for the interior of the gallery/sales office for Herzog & deMeuron’s prestigious 56 Leonard Street development of luxury condominiums. The company have designed furniture and lighting as well as interiors for ocean liners and at least one Gulf Stream jet. They believe that ‘Simplicity is the most complicated thing to pursue, but when all elements synthesise, they transcend mere enclosure and become an art form.’ The latter is a quote from the magazine Architectural Digest, which has recognised SM&A as one of the top 100 design firms of the last century. On Phillips’ website Mindel himself quotes American architect Louis Kahn as having said: ‘Design is not making beauty. Beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.’ But, enough of this high-minded proselytising and sentimental stuff – so clearly intended for the unconverted. Let’s take a look at a selection of the inspiring array of objects on offer, which, hopefully, speak for themselves.



Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
Maquette, for the ‘Danish’ chair,
circa 1950>1956
Cardboard.
Estimate £4,000 > 5,000

Oscar Niemeyer
Pair of ‘Aran’ lounge chairs,
circa 1975
Leather, stainless steel.
Made by Aran Line, Italy.
Estimate £15,000 > 20,000

Arne Jakobsen
Designed for the American
Scandinavian Foundation,
New York, 1952

Leather, chromium-plated
steel, ebony, painted wood.
Made by cabinetmakers
Rud Rasmussen A/S, Denmark.
Estimate £40,000 > 60,000

I M Pei
Double-sided clock, from
the John Hancock Building,
Boston, circa 1976
Steel, acrylic
Estimate £6,000 > 8,000

Zaha Hadid
Ordrupgaard bench,
model no PP995
for the Ordrupgaard
Museum extension,
Charlottenlund, Denmark,
circa 2006.
Ash. Produced by
PP Mobler,
Denmark
Estimate £35,000 > 45,000

All images courtesy of Phillips


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Art | Sigmar Polke in or at Another Place

Friday, April 18th, 2014
Modern Art (Moderne Kunst), 1968
Acrylic and lacquer on canvas
Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart





Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963 > 2010
Museum of Modern Art
New York | USA
19th April > 3rd August 2014

The Blog is on holiday this week. If we were in New York, we’d be going to this retrospective exhibition at MoMA, covering the five decade career of German experimental artist, Sigmar Polke (1941-2010). As it is, we’re in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and will be going to see Eduardo Paolozzi’s Bunk! at the city’s Hatton Gallery.


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Books | Dankeschoen Karl Blossfeldt

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Bryonia alba
White bryony, tendrils
Photogravure




Karl Blossfeldt
The Complete Published Work
By Hans Christian Adam
Hardcover, 544 pp
13.97 x 19.558 cm / 5.5 x 7.7 ins
Multilingual edition: English, French, German
Published by Taschen, 2014

I happened to be living in Munich, in 1996, when Taschen published an earlier, slightly larger format, softback predecessor of this book that ran to only 96 pages. A German friend, aware of my interests in both plants and gardens, as well as photography, kindly gave this little gem to me as a present. However, I made the dreadful faux pas of blurting out that I had just bought a copy myself only the day before. While I sat there wishing that the ground beneath me would open and swallow me up, my friend, crestfallen and humiliated, took back the present with a rueful smile saying that perhaps it would make a valuable addition to her own book collection.





Polypodiaceae Aspidieae
Polypody, young unrolling leaf
Photogravure




Bryonia alba
White bryony, tendrils
Photogravure




Karl Blossfeldt, (1865 > 1932) was not a photographer. His plant photography was a by-product of the teaching philosophy he developed over thirty years and intended to publish. However the publishing project never came to fruition, nor did his plan to create an archive of plant photographs.

Growing up in the central mountains of Germany, Blossfeldt began his working life as an apprentice modeller in an ironworks before he was granted a scholarship for a drawing course in Berlin. By 1890, having won another drawing scholarship to study nature, he found himself travelling throughout southern Europe, collecting plant specimens, and using Rome as a base. Influenced by his Professor, Moritz Meurer, who was already using his own photography as reference for drawing, Blossfeldt began systematically photographing plants.

Back in Berlin in 1898, by now assistant to the director of the Kunstgewerbeschule and giving drawing lessons, he soon became a permanent instructor teaching ‘Modelling from Plants’. He was appointed professor of the school in 1921. His photographic work having come to the attention of a prominent gallerist, Karl Nierndorf, in 1925, Blossfeldt had his first exhibition the following year, as a result of which his pictures were widely published in periodicals and books on design theory and architecture. Nierndorf having taken over the management of Blossfeldt’s photographic output, arranged to have a book of his prints published under the title Urformen der Kunst / Art Forms in Nature. It received enthusiastic acclaim and quickly became recognised by critics as a major work of photography, leading to a second edition the same year. Wundergarten der Natur / The Magic Garden of Nature, his second book, a continuation of the same theme, was published in the year of his death, 1932. Both books are much sought after by collectors.

A product of the arts and crafts movement of the 19th century and scientific in their presentation and purpose, Karl Blossfeldt’s carefully-lit and simply arranged photographic plant portraits are never clinical; his compelling images of leaves, stems and flowers reveal their subjects’ tactile qualities, their intricacies and often almost magical forms. Pioneering an artistic approach to image-making that would be enormously influential on twentieth century photography – from the still lifes of Irving Penn, the white background portraits of Richard Avedon, to the houses and water towers of Berndt and Hilda Becker – his legacy is one of the most important and most beautiful collections of plant photography ever created.





Aesculus parviflora
Bottle brush, tips of twigs
Photogravure




The book I had bought in 1996 had only the photographer’s name, Karl Blossfeldt, as its title and contained a short, succinct and well-written text by Professor Doktor Rolf Sachsse, who currently teaches History and Theory of Design at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste (Fine Arts Academy) Saar in Saarbrücken. Moving around a fair bit during the intervening years, somewhere along the line I mislaid my copy. I remember that it had cost me around 20 Deutschmarks, equating to about £8.27 or €10, in today’s money. The original price of Taschen’s bumper Karl Blossfeldt. The Complete Works was £24.99 / €30, however this new 544 page edition is available at a mere £12.99, about €16.00. Its author, Hans Christian Adam is a specialist in historical images, and has published numerous articles and books, including titles on travel and war photography, is the author of Taschen’s Edward Sheriff Curtis: The North American Indian, Eugène Atget: Paris and Berlin, Portrait of a City.

In 2002, my time in Germany drawing to an end, I was justly repaid for my earlier insensitivity and social clumsiness when, having bought another Taschen book Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts / Art of the 20th Century as an auf wiedersehen – and thank you for your patience – present for my German teacher, an art history student, she promptly handed it back to me with a smile and a Dankeschoen, but telling she already had a copy.





Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Design | Italy in Paris

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Osvaldo Borsani
Model at16 coatstand
in leather, brass and walnut
Produced by Tecno, 1961
Est €6,000 > 8,000



Italian Design
PIASA Rive Gauche
Paris | France
Exhibition: 10th April > 14th April 2014
Sale: 15th April 2014

In the 1980s London fell in love with design. It was cool to kit out your home with slick and beautifully made contemporary Italian furniture and lighting from Zeev Aram and newly-established shops, such as Atrium, and The London Lighting Company. From its launch in 1983, the names of architects and designers Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni, as well as that of Ettore Sotsass, figured regularly and prominently in the British magazine Blueprint. At about the same time, and although I and other like-minded Londoners spoke no Italian, we began subscribing to, and each month poring over, great-looking Italian architecture and design magazines. Domus was one, Abitare another – the latter art directed and edited by the legendary Italo Lupi (former art director of Domus) in which the work of the designers mentioned above would also feature, alongside that of Carlo Mollino, Gio Ponti (Domus’s founder) and Piero Fornasetti – each still relevant but more representative of an earlier era. However the list of lots in PIASA Rive Gauche’s forthcoming auction, reveals other important Italian figures, who are perhaps less familiar, or were lost in translation, and also includes anonymous pieces.

After training as an architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911 >1985), see image top, joined the family furniture-making business Atelier Varedo (later Arredamento Borsani). Very prolific as a designer of storage furniture and seating, in 1953 with his brother Fulgencio, Osvaldo founded the technology based company, Tecno, which still exists and is a well-known producer of innovative furniture for offices and public buildings.

Unknown designer
Sofa in wool and brass, c 1950
Est €18,000 > 25,000

Ico Parisi
Suite of six chairs
in painted wood
and leatherette
c 1955
Est €6,000 > 9,000

Ico Parisi’s (1916 > 1996) style epitomised the modern Italian look of the 1950s. Trained as architect, he spent time in the 1930s as a film-maker and went on to design everything from interiors to jewellery, sometimes working with his wife, Luisa, a former student of Gio Ponti.

Pucci de Rossi
Rocking chair
in steel, prototype, 2001
Est €10,000 > 15,000

Born in Verona, Italy, artist, sculptor and designer, de Rossi (1947 > 2013) lived and worked in Paris from 1979. Post-modern by nature, rather than producing useful functional objects and furniture, he sought to imbue his creations with imagination, humour and irony.

BBPR
Trolley in metal and wood
One-off piece, designed for a
Milanese apartment, 1959
Est €4,000 > 6,000

Set up in Milan in 1932, BBPR was a studio of modern movement architects, planners and designers, composed of Gian Luigi Banfi, Ludovico Barbiato di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers, who were responsible for the post World War II reconstruction of the city. They produced chair designs for Arflex – now back in production – and BBPR’s Olivetti showroom on Fifth Avenue, New York City (1954), is regarded as among the most innovative small-scale projects of the period.

Pierre Cardin
Table lamp in metal and glass
Produced by Venini c1970
Est €3,000 > 4,000

Significantly, because the Italian approach to production of furniture and lighting has always been crafts-based – which attracted designers from around the world to produce work for or with Italian companies – the PIASA Rive Gauche Italian Design sale features pieces by non-Italians, including, appropriately – it taking place in Paris – Frenchman Pierre Cardin (1922 >), who happens to have been born in Italy.


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin