Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Spring Show NYC

BB with designer Lars Bolander and his son Christopher (this photo by Ann Watt; click on photos to enlarge)
You may remember I attended a luncheon in March to preview the Spring Show NYC, a brand new antiques show in New York mounted by the Art and Antique Dealers of America in the Armory on Park Avenue. Well, last night was the big event, the opening night of this inaugural show which was sponsored by 1stdibs. Sixty top dealers in fine and decorative arts are now presenting their best there through Sunday, May 2. Tickets are $20.

At the door I ran into Lars Bolander, the Swedish designer who I visited with in January. Lars designed the look of this show, lighting up the vast arched ceiling of the Armory, removing curtains so that you could see through galleries, and adding seating covered in yellow zebra stripes. The whole effect made the environment lighter and airier. "It can be very stuffy in here," Lars said.

Close to the front door was Carlton Hobbs who always has the most amazing things. He describes them with wonder in his English accent so it sounds like you're listening to a fairy tale. This huge Italian painting from the early eighteenth century was owned by a son of Malcolm Forbes. The fantasy landscape scene depicts a pair of castles on matching hills. Dreamy.

This very large tile painting is from a 1770's kitchen in Valencia, Spain, and is the only thing like it in existence on the marketplace.

Both of these paintings are approximately $220,000 each. But even if you are not a serious collector, it's fun to browse the offerings and get ideas. I walked with Mario Buatta a while and we looked at some dealers.
Folk art and antiques from Yew Tree Antiques in New York:

Ancient Chinese horses paired with modern art at Iliad on East 57th Street:

This was my favorite painting; Comte Oscar de Ranchicourt Leaving for the Hunt, painted by Theodore Chasseriau, and offered at Jack Kilgore & Co.

I love his gold-buttoned green jacket (I guess that's hunter green?), beige jodhpurs and tall leather boots. The wonderful play of green and gold in the painting and frame make this a treasure. Take in this show if you can and see what you like.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter: Say It With Flowers

A blaze of tulips (click on photos to enlarge)
Even though I was wearing leather gloves today in the chilly weather, spring is tiptoeing forward in time for Easter with its attendant blooms. We have been picking up flowers at the Union Square Farmer's Market which is slowing coming to life after a brutal winter.
A field of ranunculuses at the Farmer's Market

and cut tulips in the living room

Anemones in the sunlight

and a pot tulips at dusk

Flowers plus candles is a winning combination

so buy some flowers
and celebrate the joy of the weekend

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Colorful World of Deborah Buck

Deborah Buck in her garden at Buck House on Madison Avenue
"I call it emotional decorating," says art and antique gallery owner Deborah Buck when asked to explain her style mantra. "Pick things that make your heart sing. Then they will all speak to one another and it will be very personal. You are the thread that holds it together."

The lively proprietress of Buck House, on upper Madison Avenue in Carnegie Hill, is currently infatuated with the work of Indian-born sculptor Haresh Lalvani, which she is showing now through April 29. The stainless steel sculptures, which are laser-cut, jet-washed, and manipulated to look like soft waves, hang at the intersection of art and science.

I recently visited the bright and buoyant Buck House, run by Deborah Buck who is unafraid to mix styles, colors, or periods when decorating. She likes mixing people too, and operates the gallery as a design lab and salon where people in the worlds of design and art can gather and meet.
The window of Buck House:

Originally from Baltimore, Deborah trained as an artist. "I painted my brains out for twenty years," she says. When she designed her family's apartment – she's married to philanthropist Chris Buck and they have a 17-year-old son – she realized "it didn't have to be paint. I teach at the School of Visual Arts and I tell my students, 'You think you're a photographer but what you are is an artist.' Then you are free to make whatever you want, whether it's a beef burgundy or an oil painting."
Out into the garden at Buck House:

Buck decided to start a gallery and was in negotiations to open on September 11, 2001. "No, it really sucked," she recalls. But she forged ahead and now regularly heads to destinations including London, Paris, Antwerp and Amsterdam to stock her gallery with art, antiques and jewelry. "I travel, shop and ship," she quips. But she buys only things that she really likes. "It has to feed my head."
The view from the garden back through the gallery to Madison Avenue:

That approach has worked for her gallery. Now she is producing Buck House furniture, fabric and wallpaper. "I'm using my sensibility as an artist to create a business. I've made a lot of things in my life as an artist and one of the funnest is money." She figures that her valuable mix of entrepreneurial spirit and artistic talent came from her grandparents. Her grandfather was bleach baron John Wylie Jones of Jones Chemical, and her grandmother was an artist who painted rocks and made necklaces out of chicken bones. "I come from a witch's brew of eccentrics," allows Buck.
On the way out we stop at the door.

A silver stainless steel sculpture by Lalvani hangs over a live bed of shocking pink carnations and an antique Italian bench which has been upholstered with a woolly sheepskin rug. "I told you," said Deborah Buck, "I'm fearless."

Friday, April 15, 2011

At-Home Art Project

When TD and I moved to 15th Street we discovered that the art work that we have by artists, family and friends that had previously been spread around looked good when it was arranged together on one wall in the light green living room. We selected art work that was similar in type – colorful and clear. Their frames turned out to be similar too, either white or pale wood tone. We did a similar exercise in the library/office over my desk but there the collection is largely of old family photographs and the frames are dark wood on a grey painted wall.
In the living room though three of the frames on the wall were black and stuck out visually. I walked over to the frame store AI Friedman on 17th Street and looked for some replacements but they didn't have the proper sizes in white or light wood. So I came home and painted the three black frames white with some paint we had in the closet – a trick I learned from TD. And now I think the arrangement looks better – airy, pleasing, bright.

A blog reader emailed to ask me what became of the watercolor TD bought at the Greene Art Gallery in Connecticut and here is the answer:

It is at home on the living room wall towards the left side. To its right is a watercolor of a Jeep by TD's mother who is a good artist.
I love how these white tulips tinged with red complement the art. The whole set up is pretty clean and simple, and it makes my eye happy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dreams in the City

BB with artist Lulu de Kwiatkowski

Last week we were invited on one night to two artists' openings here in New York City. We were just back from a trip to Florida so the cold rainy weather was a bit of shock, but never mind. First stop was 1stdibs. You may remember my visit to the new 1stibs showroom at the New York Design Center on Lexington Avenue which features more than fifty antique dealers. That space also includes a gallery where now on display through April 15 is an exhibition of the work of photographer Greg Lotus which was curated by Charles Churchward. 1stdibs founder Michael Bruno hosted the opening along with model Molly Sims. “I chose to present Greg Lotus’s work as our first photography exhibition because it is thought-provoking, sensual and graphic,” Michael told me.

Dividing his time between New York City and Miami, Greg Lotus shoots for a range of top flight magazines and advertisers, most notably Italian Vogue. Cinematic and surreal, his work presents his own polished, personal dreams. Whether it's a woman walking a giraffe

or striking shadows on a nude,

the images evoke a glamorous world of fantasy and imagination.
Your correspondent with photographer Greg Lotus –

Then it was on to dreams of another sort downtown at the Clic Gallery on Centre Street in Soho where Lulu de Kwiatkowski is exhibiting her collages now through May 8. Flowers, birds, lollipops, beach umbrellas and more make up the whimsical visions of the artist.

Two years ago Lulu published a book of her work, and she is also a successful textile designer with a good blog. Lulu is the daughter of Henryk de Kwiatkowski who famously was imprisoned and escaped from a Nazi Siberian labor camp, made a fortune in New York as an aeronautics financier, and became a world class breeder of thoroughbred horses. His wife, Lulu's mother, Lynne de Kwiatowksi Russo, encouraged her daughter's artwork and introduced him to horses and the world of breeding. His second wife, Barbara Allen, the model and Andy Warhol confidante, is Lulu's stepmother.

Lulu told me she's been with her husband, whom she met in Paris when she was 21, for nineteen years. They have twin sons, and she said she just had another baby son exactly three months ago. The family now lives in L.A.
Talking with Lulu –

"The collages are about family, life, death, travel," said Lulu. "There are even love letters in some."

Many people hold an idealized vision of their childhood in their head, and Lulu has created hers through collage. "They are a visual autobiography of my life," she said.

The work is colorful, bright, sparkling, warm, like Lulu herself.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Paris in the Fall

Dries Van Noten Fall 2011 (photos from
The fall fashion shows recently ended in Paris and I thought that Dries Van Noten presented a great collection. You know I'm a big fan of the Belgian designer, as I've written about him here, here, and here. It was a particularly turbulent season in Paris with the terrible crash and burn of the wildly talented John Galliano who was fired at Dior after being videotaped making shocking anti-semitic remarks in a bar in the Marais, which was historically the Jewish working class of neighborhood of Paris and where Galliano lives. And at the end of the Balmain show, designer Christophe Decarnin, who I have admired here on the blog before, failed to appear. It's said that he was in a hospital having suffered a breakdown. An issue perhaps was the fact that Emmanuelle Alt, who had been his chief stylist and muse for his sexy swaggering looks, was not able to work with Decarnin on this collection as she had been promoted to editor in chief of French Vogue after Carine Roitfeld quit.

In the drama, Dries Van Noten presented a striking collection that looks so chic and wearable. He said in his show notes that he was inspired in part by the style of the Ballets Russes. The result is a creative collage of fabrics which flow together like brush strokes of paint on a canvas. Streaks, swirls and color blocks of cloth make up these artistic compositions.

His use of fabric is asymmetrical so you can see the designer's eye at work, a dash of black and white here, a slash of red and white there.

On the dress below a swath of blue cuts across earthy tones like a wave on a sandy beach.

Below is a close-up detail of the dress at the top of this post. A bright blue field is surrounded by a clash of abstract prints.

This dress has wide kimono sleeves and a line of blue down one side which defines the curve of the body.

In this close-up, the big, slouchy bag doesn't match exactly but still looks perfect. This is an easy elegance.

Here is the long evening version – the same simple t-shirt shape, the collage of pattern, the asymmetrical mix, and a deep leg slit added. It's such a relaxed way to be dressed for evening and also super-chic.

The golden front glimmers against the contrasting patterns in a happy ode to textiles.

And here is Dries at the end of his show.

Beautiful, no?