The Salon: Art & Design in NYC

taj tableIncluding the opening day, The Salon was held for the first time at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Ave) from November 8 -12, 2012 providing a large range of art objects, painting, sculpture, furniture, and decorative items which met for most the objectives of the show, museum –quality works of art.

The show was organized by the New York based Sanford L. Smith & Associates and the French Syndicat National des Antiquaires. They selected 56 galleries from Paris (27), New York (14), London (six) and other cities presenting in 53 booths more about 700 art objects. All work chosen for the salon were vetted and organized into categories:

The Salon included a fund raiser for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. Several panels sponsored by the SCENE magazine were offered covering respectively design value creation in real estate and through the social media as well as on the Vanderbilts bringing “French Grandeur” to America and Deconstructing Modern Design.

The breadth and quality of the Salon was astounding covering hundreds of years of art and design creations and presenting many galleries who were never in New York before. Only comparatively few decorative objects from the contemporary design period were puzzling and difficult to ascertain, yet they found their audience too. Certainly the art, genre, style and period preferences of the well clad upscale audience were readily met by the exhibits in well arranged spaces.

It would be difficult to identify a single established 20th century artist whose work was not shown. Further, this first salon was not crowded during my two visits as Armory art shows frequently are, thus allowing for undisturbed talks of exhibitors and collectors, an advantage pointed out by visitors and staff, in short, as one visitor put it, the salon was a collector’s paradise.

Apart from an overall compliment for this well managed show it is difficult to do justice to all exhibitors and the plethora of objects on view. Among my favorites were the Carpenters Workshop Gallery (London) with its astounding upside down Taj Mahal table, the unending attraction of Rene Lalique’s work mounted by the DJL Lalique gallery (Glen Cove, New York) and kindred art nouveau objects arranged by the Jason Jacques Gallery from New York.

Among the most notable pieces of furniture was DJO Bourgeois’s desk in steel and Bakelite from the Galerie Marchilhac (Paris). Their Zürich counter part, the Gallery Gmurzynska featured the suprematist PROUN portfolio of prints of which only three copies are known to exist, one held by MOMA. For the artist El Lissitzky the Russian Proun stands for 'Project for the Affirmation of the New'. Zlotowski (Paris) devoted all of its space to showcase paintings by Le Corbusier offering an amazing contrast to his style in architecture. And the German-American artist Richard Lindner had two of his eroticizing paintings on view at the Galerie Pascal Lansberg (Paris) exhibit.

As noted the work shown spanned centuries with the oldest paintings on display presented by the Paris and Geneva based De Jonckheere gallery specializing in old masters and specifically Flemish painting. The darkened exhibit space featured The Harvest painting by Pieter Brueghel, a panel by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and the magnificent “Temptation of Saint Antony in a panoramic landscape” by Jan Mandijn. At least for this writer, the picturesque landscapes, village scenes and portraits by the other masters shown in this booth were not as intriguing as Mandijn’s imagination of St. Anthony’s temptations. Following Hieronymus Bosch’ imaginary creations Mandijn demonstrates superb craftsmanship with surreal and detailed scenes. Masked people and bizarre creatures are leaving caves surrounded by strange insects, birds and other fantastic objects against the background of a seemingly peaceful landscape. What he presents transcends our imagination.

If you have missed the show you may want to visit two galleries across from the Armory on East 67th Street. At Friedman & Vallois the focus is on the French artist Rachid Khimone selecting totems and masks created over the last five years using bronze, iron, wood and mixed media. The objects evoke Africa and her traditions. Jumping into 21st century, the Lohner-Carlson Silences exhibit at the Erik Thomsen's gallery of Asian art presents Active Images 1990-20, combining the best of moving images and photographic approaches. The images are shown on a series of high resolution video panels and provide a poetic and elegant glance at seemingly normal scenes. Yet they succeed in unframing our structured visual perception of reality and moving us out of that perception box, if we look closely enough embracing a meditative patience.

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