Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“Modern” Love: A wealth of 20th Century readies for June 4 auction

.May 19, 2009
Posted by Noah

I am pretty much the classic example of a Liberal Arts education. I am well-rounded enough in enough diverse subjects that I can speak with a modicum of knowledge on just about any subject. Wanna try me? Shoot me an email (NoahF@HA.com) and I’ll try to dazzle you with the wealth of trivia stashed in the storehouse of my skull. I have no particular desire to be this way; it’s simply the fashion in which my particular skill set – which allows me to do this wonderful job – has evolved. What can I say? Nature of the beast, and all that.

I mention this because there are so many people at Heritage who can say the same, but who have a much greater institutional knowledge of their specific specialty – coins, comics, sports, etc. – than I could ever hope to have, and who also possess an impressive generalist knowledge as well, and also because there is one area of this business I love above all others, and about which I feel I know just about nothing despite – literally – hundreds of hours spent in its pursuit. That specialty is 20th Century Design, and to say that this stuff makes me ecstatic like my 3-1/2-year-old when she’s chasing bubbles is an understatement.

It also just so happens that we have what is really a spectacular 20th Century Design auction coming up here at Heritage. I kid you not. If you’re an aficionado of Modern design, and you’ve watched as Heritage has made its way in the category, then this is the one that you’ve been waiting for.

Depth? You bet. Variety? Unquestioned. Style? Where to even begin?

All I can say is that our new Director of 20th Century, the multi-faceted Christina Japp, (click here and scroll down for her bio) has done an expert’s job of assembling as deep a selection of 20th Century as has ever been offered here, and one that will certainly make the main players in the category sit up and take notice.

My focus has always been on “Modernism” as a form between roughly 1940 and 1980, give or take a few decades on either end with a healthy nod to Biedermeier, the Vienna Secessionists, Arts & Crafts, Mission and Deco. So, basically, everything. I would give my left foot for an original Charlotte Perriand bibliotheque, anything original by Nakashima, Bertoia, van Der Rohe, Prouve, Miller, Eames or any of 30 or 40 designers I know I am forgetting, which is exactly what is so amazing about the pursuit of 20th Century design.

Fortunately for a Modern-o-phile like myself, this auction has a little bit of everything, and a little bit of dozens of designers. There’s amazing Tiffany, a superb Ruhlmann cabinet, a classically modern Sotsass cupboard and a simply astounding array of other great stuff I simply don’t have the time to write about. There’s even an iconic New York Keith Haring painted leather jacket.

I know that I will finish this post, get it online and kick myself for not doing this auction, or my passion for Modernism, justice, but that is the nature of this particular bug. The very best minds on the form have forgotten way more than I will ever possibly know about Modernism, and they would say the same of their teachers. It is an infinite, intricate pursuit; one that fills a lifetime and makes you wish you had just a little more time.

A good place to start is here at Heritage on June 4, or at the online catalog for the event, linked here as well.

Click on the title of this post to leave a comment.

-Noah Fleisher

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