By Laura Beach
New fairs in New York, London and other global capitals are putting the art market on notice. But rather than undergo radical revision, the 63-year-old Winter Antiques Show, befitting its grande-dame status, is instead opting for a subtle nip and tuck.
“We are holding fast to what has been successful for the Winter Antiques Show for over six decades, which is the sense of discovery. Each year, we build this in by expanding the range of material while focusing on quality,” executive director Catherine Sweeney Singer said of the fair benefiting East Side House Settlement.
Led by a team headed by show co-chairs Lucinda C. Ballard, Arie L. Kopelman and Michael R. Lynch, the 2017 event previews at the Park Avenue Armory on Thursday evening, January 19, continuing through January 29. Fran O’Brien of Chubb is serving as the show’s honorary chair. Honorary design chairs are Jamie Drake, Caleb Anderson, Celerie Kemble and Miles Redd.
A notable contingent of the show’s 70 exhibitors specialize in American fine and decorative arts. The balance handle a range of English, Continental, Asian and other non-Western art, ancient to modern. In keeping with the times, the Winter Antiques Show is gradually adding contemporary material to a mix that remains unapologetically historicist.
“Exhibitors across all 32 disciplines want to engage new and younger buyers. Everybody is talking about cross-collecting. Our version of cross-presenting material is a natural extension, because many of our dealers have expanded into new areas in their galleries,” said Sweeney Singer.
The liberalizing trend extends to datelines. “For 2017, our Dealers Committee proposed that we allow dealers with contemporary programs to show more of their artists’ work. The dealers who already have contemporary programs, meaning they are giving an artist a group or solo exhibition on a regular basis in their gallery or are presenting an artist’s work at fairs, can show more of this material. We extended datelines to include contemporary works in 2016,” Sweeney Singer explained. Exhibitors in this category include the Japanese art authority Joan B. Mirviss, who for her 36th East Side outing will array Modern and contemporary Japanese ceramics unified by the theme of “ao,” a term used to convey both blue and green. Others who mix historic and contemporary material in one discipline are Elle Shushan, Paul Donzella, Hostler Burrows, Todd Merrill and Michael Goedhuis.
Sweeney Singer elaborated, “Ten exhibitors will display older material-which their gallery was first invited to exhibit at the show-with contemporary work by their gallery artists. We generated a lot of interest when we extended the datelines last January.”
Continuing with another successful innovation, exhibitors without a contemporary line have been invited to exhibit, with prior permission, not more than five works by a living artist working outside of the exhibitor’s primary specialty. The artist must be represented in multiple museum collections. At the 2016 Winter Antiques Show, for instance, Michele Beiny, an expert in Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century English and Continental porcelain and faience, offered a few pieces of contemporary American studio glass, a personal interest. The synergy between old and new proved attractive to buyers, said Sweeney Singer.
Organizers have also given the green light to collaborative displays on specific themes. “We expect in the future to have five to seven such booths. One benefit of the collaborations is to show how works from different disciplines can be displayed together,” said Sweeney Singer.
One of two collaborations in the 2017 show is being staged by Peter Fetterman, a California dealer in classic Twentieth Century photography, and Jonathan Boos, a New York dealer in Twentieth Century American paintings and sculpture.
“The collaborative booth will be located directly across from our individual booths, which neighbor each other, and will juxtapose important pieces of different mediums -photography versus painting – from both galleries,” explained Fetterman’s Douglas Marshall. One pairing, he said, would consist of landscapes by two great observers of the American West, Albert Bierstadt and Ansel Adams.
New exhibitor David Gill Gallery and the veteran Winter Show dealer Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz are mounting the second collaboration. Gill, who is based in London, commissions limited-edition furniture and accessories by prominent artists, architects and designers. David Gill Gallery was recruited into the Winter Show by Thibaut-Pomerantz, who has embarked on a series of imaginative collaborations at TEFAF Maastricht, TEFAF New York Fall and the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris in recent seasons. In their first joint display at the Winter Show, Thibaut-Pomerantz and Gill are pairing furniture and lighting – including a pair of “Congo” chairs, cabinets, a desk, floor lamp and sconces – by the Parisian artist and designer Mattia Bonetti (b. 1952) with historic wallpaper panels, Thibaut-Pomerantz’s speciality. Headquartered in New York and Paris, the foremost expert in her field has even commissioned a new paper from Bonetti. Christened “Carolle” in her honor, it will cover the walls of the Thibaut-Pomerantz and Gill Gallery booth. Of the paper, Thibaut-Pomerantz says, “It is very simple, neutral and classy. Mattia was inspired by Art Deco stripes.”
“Nina Fletcher Little and Helen Kellogg came to me in a dream and told me I should do the Winter Antiques Show,” said the only new exhibitor in Americana, Stephen Score. Known for his superb taste and talent for display, the longtime dealer in American folk art invoked the names of two departed friends and mentors, both passionate advocates for American primitive painting.
“My wife, Eleanor, and I are approaching this with great excitement, a surprising amount of equanimity and with the reassuring back-up of a number of beautiful objects that have been off the market for a long time,” said Score, who began his career as a private dealer in the early 1970s and now keeps shop at 73 Chestnut Street in Boston.
Returning exhibitor Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts briefly did the show once before. The New York dealer in early Twentieth Century American art plans a booth built around a collection of Samuel Yellin ironwork commissioned for the Sabin estate in Southampton, N.Y., confirmed gallery manager Ken Sims.
New dealer Lebreton Gallery of San Francisco specializes in Twentieth Century French fine and decorative arts. The firm represents Modern and contemporary masters, from Pablo Picasso and Diego Giacometti to Ingrid Donat. It handles a full line of art furniture, ceramics and textiles.
Robert Simon Fine Art, a New York-based private dealer in Old Masters pictures, is also participating for the first time. Gallery director Lydia Melamed Johnson said the company is bringing a major Sixteenth Century portrait by Lavinia Fontana, plus works by Antonio Campi and Ottavio Vannini. A Nineteenth Century Port of Havana view by Fritz Sigfried Georg Melbye is another highlight.
Founded in 1979 by Maureen Zarember, Tambaran Gallery specializes in primitive art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Zarember will be the first exhibitor to offer Northwest Coast material since the departure of Canadian dealer Donald Ellis. “I’m planning to bring a number of American Indian pieces, plus Polynesian and Alaskan objects,” said Zarember.
Nine exhibitors are leaving the show, at least for now. The departures allowed management to make changes to the show’s floor plan.
“We have at least six exhibitors who were desperate for more space, including longtime dealer Rupert Wace. Some booths are extended by a few more feet in their current locations. Donzella moved next door and his space is much larger. Most of the new exhibitors have large booths,” noted Sweeney Singer.
Joan Brownstein, a dealer in American folk paintings, and her husband, Peter Eaton, a specialist in early New England furniture and accessories, are taking a leave of absence. Each was recovering from back surgery when commitments were due.
“We had a great show in 2016,” said Eaton, who sold well in three previous years, as well.
“We are basically taking a break from shows altogether,” said Todd Prickett of C.L. Prickett Antiques, specialists in Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century American furniture.
“Fair fatigue,” acknowledged Joel Rosenkranz of Conner Rosenkranz. The American sculpture expert also withdrew from November’s American Art Fair.
Historical Design is leaving the Winter Antiques Show to concentrate on HD Jewels. Its new shop in New York’s Carlyle Hotel features wearable works of art by Place Vendome jewelry houses such as Boucheron, Cartier, Mauboussin and Van Cleef & Arpels. “We just thought it was a bit too much to handle the demanding hours of the Winter Antiques Show and keep our new place running smoothly,” explained Daniel Morris.
Kagedo Japanese Art in Orcas, Wash., is also withdrawing. Bill Knospe said via email, “The organizers offered us the same stand, which seemed much too small for what we needed to exhibit considering all of the costs associated with mounting a stand long-distance.”
Two exhibitors, Les Enluminures and De Jonckheere Gallery, participated in the inaugural TEFAF New York Fall fair at the Park Avenue Armory in October but are taking a pass on the 2017 Winter Show. Les Enluminures founder Sandra Hindman said, “We now have a gallery in New York and for the first time it is staffed full-time. We are participating in Master Drawings New York, which coincides with the Winter Antiques Show, with a great selection, and catalogue, of Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century drawings.”
Also out are Sylvia Powell Decorative Arts, an English and Continental art-pottery specialist, and the Fine Arts Society, which is refocusing its efforts on its New Bond Street gallery in London.
The 2017 Winter Antiques Show loan exhibition celebrates the 60th year of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, a division of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. The display will feature ceramics, sculpture, drawings, paintings, fraktur, furniture, weathervanes, utilitarian objects, needlework, quilts and toys from AARFAM’s collection.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948), wife of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960), was one of the first female collectors of American folk art and one of the few whose holdings became the nucleus of an influential museum. Opened in 1957, AARFAM is home to more than 5,000 examples of American folk art from the 1720s to the present.
“It has been a privilege to work with Colonial Williamsburg again. Our 2001 loan exhibition celebrated the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s 75th anniversary,” noted Sweeney Singer.