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The Inaugural Spring Masters Show

Julie Schlenger Adell | April 30th, 2014

Osborne Samuel Gallery, London, displayed Back to Venice by Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003), small version II, 1988, bronze, edition of nine. Asking price was $375,000 for the 25" x 30" x 21" sculpture. The gallery mounted a retrospective in May and June to celebrate the cen-
tenary of Chadwick’s birth. Spindle Piece (pictured right), 1968, by Henry Moore (1898-1986), bronze, edition of ten, 33" x 26¾" x 26¾", was $1 million.

Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts, New York City, displayed this collection of Grueby Faience Company vases, various heights, 1901-05. The collection was $200,000. The early 20th-century Arts and Crafts oak table was $45,000. The three leaded-glass windows designed by architect George Washington Maher, from the music room of the Edward and Nellie Parmelee house, Kenilworth, Illinois, 1897-98, were $105,000. Each measures 52" x 26".

Phoenix Ancient Art, New York City and Geneva, Switzerland, displayed this 4th century B.C. Greek bronze situla (a bucket-shaped vessel) and asked $125,000 for it.

The new design for Spring Masters by architect Rafael Viñoly changed the exhibitor layout, adding hexagonal-shaped booths with pops of color on the walls. Showgoers could meander through the show as if walking the streets of a European village.

Espasso, a gallery in Tribeca featuring modern and contemporary Brazilian furniture, offered this pair of jacaranda and rosewood chairs for $29,000.

Carini Lang, New York City, showed street art wall hangings handwoven in Nepal. This one, by artist “Rae,” was $88,000.

These two paintings by Jean-Pierre Cassigneul (b. 1935) were offered by Galerie Rienzo, New York City. La Capeline Bleue, 36¼" x 28¾", was $168,000. Le Bouquet sur la Table, 39 3/8" x 31 7/8", was $220,000. Both were painted this year. 

New York City

April showers and May flowers came together in New York City to welcome the inaugural Spring Masters, a redesigned show that blended works of art from antiquity through the 20th century in a new visual experience.

The April 30-May 4 show had some unchoreographed drama. A fire broke out in the basement of the Park Avenue Armory during the last hours of the show on Sunday, prompting a few dealers standing on the sidewalk to proclaim “fire sale at Spring Masters.” On opening night a leak in the front of the building resulted in a dealer’s having to remove his masterpieces from the walls and close his booth. Nevertheless, the show must go on!

“This is the most beautiful show I’ve ever exhibited in,” declared one dealer. “This will be a standard of comparison.”

Gone were the booths lined straight up and down long narrow aisles. Instead, exhibitors’ booths were arranged in a floor plan design using interlocking hexagons in the middle (constructed like a honeycomb), and the booths along the sides had flat back walls with aisle-side walls mirroring the hexagons throughout the Park Avenue Armory.

“It’s fresh, and everything flows,” said John-Paul Bogart of Martin du Louvre, Paris.

“It’s spectacular. It’s open and exciting, and there’s a brand new level of excellence. These are phenomenal dealers with their best material,” said Richard Schillay of Schillay Fine Art, New York City.

Dealers agreed that the right people showed up during the four-day event. “There were seriously good people” attending. However, a few dealers said the show needed to have been advertised more.

Originally conceived in 2011 as the Spring Show by the Art and Antique Dealers League of America (AADLA), the fair was acquired last year by Artvest Partners. More than 60% of the 50 exhibitors this year were new participants. Dealers brought their top-tier collections of art, antiques, and design, all vetted by a committee.

“Connoisseurship is critical,” said Jeff B. Rabin, principal and cofounder, with Michael Plummer, of Artvest Partners. Furthermore, with the increase in prices in the contemporary sector, cross-collecting, i.e., mixing contemporary works with Asian art, for example, “gives collectors the opportunity to buy superlative works in other categories as well,” said Rabin. “The greatest collectors know how to mix and match.”

The drill space at the Park Avenue Armory was transformed to look like a European village by architect Rafael Viñoly, who has created civic and cultural spaces in the U.S. such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. “The design has gone from linear to a different dynamic. The addition of angles creates vistas from almost everywhere,” added Rabin, whose father-in-law, art dealer Bernard Goldberg, had three booths at the show.

“I love seeing Robert Simon’s tiger down there,” said Clinton Howell, pointing toward The River of Time (The Princeton Tiger), an oil painting by Charles R. Knight, displayed at booth D10-D11. Standing in front of his booth in spot A7-A8, Howell, who is president of the AADLA, said he was excited by the new design. He was involved in the sale of the show to Artvest Partners. “It’s a brilliant concept. You get pulled through the show by the things you see. The old concept wasn’t wrong. It’s tired,” the New York City-based 18th-century English furniture dealer said.

The interiors and decoration of the show were created by Viñoly’s wife, Diana, a residential interior designer. While walking a visitor through the show she explained, “I wanted people to walk through discovering something new…like going through a suk [market or bazaar].”

Her influence was seen in the terra-cotta planters that held copious, colorful flowers as well as by the presence of a few new exhibitors she knows from her design business. Containers held enormous displays of springtime blossoms, and the colors of the exhibitors’ walls were chosen to go with the flowers as well as the art. The eclectic mix of the dealers’ offerings, however, did not seem forced. “It’s gorgeous. It’s a knockout,” exclaimed one dealer.

Opening night, a benefit for the Brooklyn Museum, was affected by torrential rains, and the expected crowd of 900 was significantly reduced. Sales were made, however, including an illuminated terra-cotta sculpture by Pierre Bareff at Milord Antiques, Montreal, Quebec, as well as a large bronze sculpture (The Unicyclist) by Chaim Gross at Conner • Rosenkranz, New York City.

Other sales during the show included two ink drawings at Michael Goedhuis Gallery, New York City, which specializes in Chinese contemporary art; a mid-18th-century mahogany and rosewood Portuguese backgammon board as well as a Chinese export padouk table bureau, circa 1730, on a later stand, at Michael Pashby Antiques, New York City; and a pastel on paper by Everett Shinn, Steps between HousesParis Street, 1903, at Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts. Drucker Antiques, Mt. Kisco, New York, specialists in all things Georg Jensen, was consistently busy and “did well.”

There was an Arts’ Night Out event Friday evening for young patrons—fondly called “the cashless and the dateless” by one dealer—from a dozen institutions. Christie’s New York held lectures, panel discussions, and walk-throughs of the show through its education program.

Many dealers said they’d return next year for the second Spring Masters show. For more information, go to Web site (

This Venetian chinoiserie drop-front cabinet from the second quarter of the 18th century was shown at L’Antiquaire & The Connoisseur, New York City. On the right is a copy of a book on Italian furniture, written by owner Helen Costantino Fioratti, published in 2004. The cabinet, 87" x 43” x 21½", with original lacquered wood and period etched mirrors, had been owned by William Randolph Hearst. Asking price was $380,000.

Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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