October 26, 2012 7:20 pm

Unexpected but keenly collected

Brief takes on the market for blue-chip Art Deco items, the French in New York and Sofa Art
Armoire Chinoise by Vincent Dubourg at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery©DesignMiami/

Armoire Chinoise by Vincent Dubourg at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Art Deco devotees are salivating at the blue-chip classic items available in the Christie’s sale of the Steven A. Greenberg collection, due to take place in New York on December 12 and 13. Greenberg, who died in February, was an investor who built a nightclub empire made up of legendary Manhattan hotspots such as the Palladium and the Roxy. The market for sought-after 20th-century designers such as Jean Dunand, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Jean Dupas will be tested, with all eyes on a striking eight-panel brown lacquered screen by Eileen Gray from 1921-23, with an estimate of $1.5m-$2.5m. Such prestigious Art Deco items rarely come on to the market and the 210-lot sale is expected to realise well in excess of $15m.

'Linelight' by Johanna Grawunder at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery©DesignMiami/

'Linelight' by Johanna Grawunder at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Buyers are already lining up to try to secure the top lots. “The estimates for the Ruhlmann and Gray pieces reflect the current market, as evidenced in previous auctions like the YSL Christie’s sale [in 2009] and the Château de Gourdon sale at Christie’s in Paris last year,” said Adriana Friedman, director of New York’s DeLorenzo Gallery. “Many of the pieces being offered were purchased from us ... [we are] eagerly awaiting this sale and will be aggressively bidding for these important works.”

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'Emotional Series No 5' by Edmond Byrne©DesignMiami/

'Emotional Series No 5' by Edmond Byrne

The design fair landscape is redrawn this month with the launch of The Salon: Art+Design event in New York, set up by the veteran fair organiser Sanford Smith (Park Avenue Armory, November 8-12). Last November Smith presented the inaugural edition of the Paris-based Pavilion of Art+Design (Pad) at the Park Avenue Armory but clashed with the French fair’s co-founder Patrick Perrin, reportedly over issues such as expenses and advertising. Pad NY nonetheless seemed to give New Yorkers an appetite for high-end art and design.

For his new 53-exhibitor Manhattan fair, Smith has teamed up with the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, the French antique dealers’ association, with at least 22 Gallic dealers set to descend on the city, creating new markets for their material and checking in with existing US clients. The leading modern design gallery Galerie du Passage is part of the French onslaught. The Paris dealership will show a 1973 “Brochet” (silver sculpture of a pike) by François Xavier-Lalanne, priced at $300,000. “Our main supporters are European interior designers who purchase for their New York clients; I’ll tell you on November 13 [when the fair is over] if the market is healthy,” said Nathalie Peters of Galerie du Passage.

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Nucleo-Nickel Fossil Table 2012 at Gabrielle Ammann©DesignMiami/

Nucleo-Nickel Fossil Table 2012 at Gabrielle Ammann

A veteran US design fair, Sofa Art & Design Chicago, hopes to bounce back with its 19th edition (November 2-4, Navy Pier’s Festival Hall) after its sister fair, Sofa West: Santa Fe, which was scheduled to launch in New Mexico in August, was scrapped because of a drop in gallery participation. “[In Chicago] there are more international galleries this year [17 in total] and we have more European dealers than we’ve had for a few years – including a strong presence of UK galleries, with four dealers who have never exhibited at Sofa Chicago before: the London-based galleries Erskine Hall & Coe, Flow gallery and Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, along with Craft Scotland of Edinburgh,” said Donna Davies, director of Sofa.

Flow gallery, which also participated in the New York version of the fair in April, will show works ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to $22,000 for a 15-piece installation by Henk Wolvers. “In New York, we saw both emerging and established collectors. It is really interesting to see collectors with a business card bearing the title ‘collector’,” quipped Yvonna Demczynska, the founder of Flow. Sofa West: Santa Fe, meanwhile, is not scheduled to relaunch in 2013.

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Eight-panel screen (c1921-23) by Eileen Gray©Christie's

Eight-panel screen (c1921-23) by Eileen Gray

Chinese contemporary art soared and then slumped during the global economic downturn but is the market for Chinese contemporary design just as jumpy? “Since there has not really been a supply until now, a new market is just being created,” says Liliane Fawcett, who has organised what she describes as the first major selling exhibition of contemporary Chinese design in London at her Notting Hill venue, Themes & Variations (Chinese Design Today, November 8-December 8, see “Spreading their wings in style”). Works by 16 established and emerging practitioners, such as Shao Fan and Li Jia, are priced between £900 and £80,000. “We feel that the upcycling works [made using salvaged material] could run in parallel with the market for the Campana brothers who made pieces from wood found in the favelas,” said Fawcett. In a canny move, the gallery is targeting Chinese contemporary art collectors who may cross over into design.

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Mutation Series by Maarten de Ceulaer©DesignMiami/

Mutation Series by Maarten de Ceulaer

The Asian contemporary design market, meanwhile, continues to expand; the art and design specialist Pearl Lam plans to open a third gallery next year in Shanghai, in the city’s French quarter, while rumours swirl that the organisers of the DesignMiami/ fair will join Art Basel and launch a new event in Hong Kong (there’s “toe-dipping” behind the scenes, says a source). “While we are very interested in expanding our activities to Asia, we do not have immediate plans for a Hong Kong edition of DesignMiami/,” said director Marianne Goebl. The eighth edition of the Miami fair opens on December 5.

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