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The New York Ceramics Fair 2014

Lita Solis-Cohen | January 21st, 2014

Cliff Lee (b. 1951) of Stevens, Pennsylvania, asked $40,000 for this piece of porcelain he called a Double Dragon vase. There is an incised dragon on the body of the vase and a dragon with ruby eyes on the lid. He said it was very difficult to put on the prickly parts. He sold multiple works but complained that everyone haggled over the price. Lee porcelains are in several museums, including the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This Flemish fantasy mantelpiece made by Katherine Houston of Boston was $20,000.

This Philadelphia platter by Paul Scott was $2500 from Ferrin Contemporary, Cummington, Massachusetts. In the fall of 2013, U.K. artist Paul Scott toured the U.S. and participated in an artist residency at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia and Project Art in Massachusetts. Scott created a body of work he called “American Scenery,” transfer-printing current American views on antique china he found at Brimfield and other markets. The chip is painted with gold.

Aytek USA, Istanbul and Carlstadt, New Jersey, offered this Turkish covered turkey platter made in Kutahya, Turkey in 2013. It was $4200. It is revival style of the traditional pottery of Kutahya, an hour’s drive from Isnik.

Figures by Jose Arias were priced from $1800 to $2800 by Martin Cohen of New York City. Several sold.

John Howard of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England said this large slipware charger with comb decoration was his favorite. It was $7500.

Five minutes after the show opened on a snowy evening London dealer Garry Atkins’s stand was full of buyers, and selling was brisk.

A.J. Warren is carrying on the tradition of her parents, Peter and Maria Warren of Wilton, Connecticut. She sold creamware, salt glaze, and a green glaze teapot.

New York City

The Ceramics Fair in New York City in January is where you see things you have not seen before and learn something at every turn.

For instance, Paolo Venini collected the best of the past while he and his designers incorporated the best of the new. Ian Simmonds, a glass dealer from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, offered a bottle from Venini’s own collection that was made around 1750. It had a vertical rib pattern and a bubble pushed in from both sides. It called to mind some of the Venini glass that was in the Carlo Scarpa exhibition at the Met.

Did you know that La Fucina degli Angeli was the name Jean Cocteau proposed for a group of artists who joined together to have a permanent point of sale and exhibition in Murano in the 1950’s? A glass blower named Egidio Costantini persuaded artists such as Arp, Calder, Picasso, Chagall, Ernst, Fontana, Le Corbusier, Leger, and Matta to design sculptural works made of glass. Some of the greatest glass blowers made sculptural pieces, and London dealer Sylvia Powell had some of them for sale. Prices ranged from $90,000 to $150,000.

A large bulbous tulip vase, inspired by Dutch examples, with chinoiserie decoration after Ming porcelain had never been seen before. The vase was snapped up by a collector from Garry Atkins during the first moments of the show. No one had seen a white English delft reticulated basket like the one Rodney Woolley brought from London, made in London in 1651. The asking price was high, and it did not sell.

The 2014 New York Ceramics Fair opened during a major snowstorm, and many who planned to come never got there on opening night, January 21; those who did brave the weather bought with gusto.

Curators were among those who found their way to the show during the week (the show ran through January 26) when the streets were plowed but the weather stayed frigid. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, bought one of Paul Scott’s transfer-printed platters from his “American Scenery”series. It had a transfer print of the Hudson River and Indian Point on a blue-bordered platter he found at Brimfield. It was offered by Ferrin Contemporary, Cummington, Massachusetts, which represents the English artist. Leslie Ferrin said she sold ten works from Scott’s “American Scenery”series, four to museums. The Brooklyn Museum bought two, and the Newark Museum bought one.

Colonial Williamsburg bought a salt-glazed basket from Paul Vandekar and a salt-glazed teapot from Martyn Edgell of Cambridgeshire, England. Edgell sold an anti-slavery plate to Ron Fuchs, curator at the Reeves Center at Washington and Lee University. Curators from the Yale University Art Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Newark Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the New Bedford  Museum of Glass, and Colonial  Williamsburg attended the show.

Glenn Adamson, the director of the Museum of Arts and Design, was among the notables, and a good number of decorators shopped. There were two presentations by designers. Mario Buatta called his talk “If You Can’t Hide It Decorate It,” and a panel of decorators moderated by Judith Gura discussed how to accessorize with ceramics. All of this resulted in sales.

The finest and rarest examples sold first. Alan Kaplan sold a rare Toby jug and a rare pottery dovecote, as well as Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre, English cameo glass, and paperweights. English dealer John Howard said sales were not as brisk as last year, which had been “fantastic,” but he sold a large Staffordshire spaniel, creamware, lusterware, pearlware figural groups, and Prattware to two museums and was happy to report he sold to six collectors he had not met before.

London dealer Roderick Jellicoe brought more English porcelain than he generally does and sold more than he ever had before. He sold a rare Bow shell-form centerpiece to a private collector and several pieces of Worcester  porcelain, tureens, and figures, some to museums.

Garry Atkins’s stand was crowded when the show opened, and after an initial hour of brisk sales he continued to sell at a slower pace all week, finding buyers for his most expensive pieces including his delft tulip vase and a Jackfield blackware bowl with gilt decorations in a Jacobite theme. He also sold several Portuguese faience chargers that match shards found by archeologists at Jamestown and some other delft and creamware.

Contemporary artist Cliff Lee, who works in porcelain, sold three pieces to private collectors and a yellow prickly melon to interior designer Kitty Hawks. Michelle Erickson said she takes orders for pieces that are based on earlier traditions in English and American pottery but express her concern about our dependence on fossil fuel and for gun control legislation. 

George Kingham of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England said he started a new collector on Martin Brothers face jugs, selling him two.

The Stradlings made more than a dozen sales ranging from Tucker porcelain to a Bennington book flask, a face jug, and a Liverpool jug. This is the only show these New York dealers do, and they don’t have a Web site. The Stradlings share a stand with Ian Simmonds, who has a Web site worth visiting.

A.J. Warren is carrying on her parents’ business, Maria and Peter Warren Antiques. Her father sold English ceramics at the Ceramics Fair until 2009. Now 93, Peter would have been there if the weather had been better. A.J. said she sold salt glaze, creamware, and a green glazed teapot. “We sent out tickets, and our clients came,” she said. “We reconnected with old customers and made new ones.”

When the show was about to close, Christopher Sheppard, a London dealer in early glass, said that a collector was about to arrive to see a goblet that was made by Ravenscroft in London in 1675. He also had sold some German glass, and he may have sold his Han Dynasty Chinese glass vessel to a museum; the asking price for this rare ancient vessel was $250,000.

The Ceramics Fair is a small show, just 29 dealers; there’s room for a few more. Weather kept the gate down this year, but the fair got new energy when it moved to the Bohemian National Hall in 2011, and now it seems to have a firm place on the January calendar. A loyal following came to daily lectures and shopped.

The first copies of Ceramics in America, the Chipstone journal, were hot off the press, reminding showgoers that what started out as china collecting is now a scholarly pursuit.

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


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