I really enjoyed seeing the Salon Art + Design fair at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC about ten days ago. I want to share a few highlights, five favorite things that really stood out and grabbed my attention and admiration. These items below are not in any particular order in the sense that I’m not ranking them; I just wanted to share some things that I thought were really cool and – if money and space were not an issue – I could imagine myself enjoying these things.
Check out these light sculptures by the design team known as Klove. Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth are the designers who “seek to redefine the way luxury lighting is crafted, perceived, and produced.” They are inspired by the skills of traditional Indian craftsmen, combining that knowledge with contemporary practices and forward-thinking ideas. I have honestly never seen anything like these – they have a commanding presence. These two are from a series called “Totems Over Time,” and the piece below left is titled “Beauty Totem.” It measures 9’4″ tall and 5’4″ wide, made with handblown glass, metal with an antique brass finish, and onyx. The piece below right is titled “Protection Totem” and measures 7’5″ tall and 5’9″ wide. It is made with handblown glass and metal with a gun metal finish. You can see more of their work here.
I saw this space-age table (below) at the David Gill Gallery booth and was mesmerized. The shape and especially the finish had a huge “wow” factor. On the one hand, perhaps it should just be displayed as a piece of sculpture, but on the other hand, how fun would it be to set it for a dinner party and have your friends gathered around? I didn’t see a label for this piece at the show, but as I’m doing my research today, learning who made it took it to a whole new level for me … scroll down for more.
The piece is titled “Dune,” and was created by Zaha Hadid (1950-2016), an Iraqi-British architect, artist and designer, who is recognized as a major figure in architecture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It makes sense that I would be drawn to this table, as I am infatuated with Zara Hadid’s 520 West 28th Street (pictured below), also known as the Zaha Hadid Building, which is her only residential building in New York. Since it’s in the Chelsea neighborhood where I go see art gallery shows on a regular basis, I watched with fascination over the years as it was being built. One of these days I’ll collect all of my photos of this building as it was being built to show you the evolution of it, but I digress – back to the table: it’s made with aluminium and polyurethane lacquer, and is from a limited edition series of 8, available in black or white in addition to this color. See more about Zaha Hadid’s “Dune” here.
This next collection of five sculptures from around the world was on display at Phoenix Ancient Art, a business with galleries in Geneva and New York. All of them individually are gorgeous objects, but it was the decision to put them together to showcase an international style of sculptures, busts and masks that really stood out. It’s like a mini-survey of how civilizations around the world have made symbolic figurative art.
From left, we have:
- A Songye Female Mask (Kifwebe), from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, late 19th to early 20th century, made with wood and pigment.
- Head of a Bearded Man, Christ or Apostle, from Northern Spain, second half of the 12th century, made from limestone.
- Mummy Portrait, Egyptian, Roman Period, 1st Century A.D., made with plaster, polychrome, and gilding.
- Head of a Divinity, Syrian, circa 1st – 4th Century A.D., made with basalt, from the former private collection of Nelson A. Rockefeller.
- Head of a Youth, Roman, second half of the 1st Century A.D., made with marble.
This next piece, a shelf in painted steel, designed and made by Serban Ionescu, was on view at R. & Company. Titled “Star Dust,” it was made in 2022 by Ionescu, who is known for boldly-colored, playful, anthropomorphic forms that blur the boundaries between the sculptural and functional. I was not familiar with this artist/designer before, but after seeing his work at Salon Art + Design (there was much more in the same booth), and seeing more of his work here, I’m very intrigued and would like to learn more about him. It might be a little hard to see from this picture, but the item on top of the shelf is not part of the shelf, but rather a new book on this artist titled “A Thing On A Table In A House.” This book surveys the last five years of the artist’s colorful steel works and is accompanied by a play written by the artist James English Leary. You can learn more or buy this book here.
Last but not least, I was quite taken with this large-scale tapestry by Bernard Cathelin titled “Katsura Black and Green Harmony,” 1998. It has imagery like a painting, yet has a very tactile and three-dimensional presence as it is a French wool tapestry, measuring 78 x 118 inches. It was on view with Boccara Gallery, located in New York City. I was not previously familiar with Cathelin either, but learned that he was born in Paris in 1919 and was a painter and lithographer in addition to being a tapestry designer. That would certainly explain the painterly nature of this tapestry, and an interesting anecdote that I picked up was that he worked with Matisse in 1951, who “gave him lessons and advice,” as noted on the Boccara wall tag for this piece. This is an artist that I would like to learn more about, and one can start with his Wikipedia entry here.
While this wraps up my overview of five favorite things from Salon Art + Design, I could easily showcase another dozen more, if not more than that. I really enjoyed this fair compared to a typical art fair (which might focus only on paintings and sculptures), because I was introduced to so many new artists and designers who don’t fall under the umbrella of the New York contemporary art galleries and fairs that I usually visit. If you find these type of works as interesting as I do, make sure to check back as I’ll cover more in the near future.