Fair  November 18, 2019  Angelica Frey

Bringing the Natural World Home at Salon Art + Design 2019

Angelica Frey

Salon Art + Design 2019

On a recent Thursday night at the Park Avenue Armory, the lights of the imposing chandeliers were dimmed and orbs of different sizes were casting a purple glow on the floor and staircases. This dramatic atmosphere was the backdrop for the eighth edition of the Salon Art + Design fair, a showcase of high-end collectible design items, contemporary art, and investment pieces.

Angelica Frey

The show featured bright and luminous displays of wealth brought to us by 56 galleries hailing from fourteen countries, in the form of furniture, objets, lighting fixtures, paintings, and statuettes.

Many exhibitors were prone to flights of fancy and imagination. New York-based R & Company featured chandeliers and mirrors that loosely resembled corals, and their illumination was reminiscent of bioluminescence. Similarly, Paris-based Maison Rapin had a set of mirrors by Goossens Paris, whose frames were adorned by gilded crowns of leaves, wheat, and corals, a choice that, instead of looking faux-antique or kitsch, gave the mirrors an ethereal appearance.

Angelica Frey

From Ayala Serfaty’s Soma Series, Wisteria, Maison Gerard at Salon Art + Design 2019

Angelica Frey

Wexler Gallery at Salon Art + Design 2019

Wexler Gallery, from New York, had more of a tropical aesthetic, presenting Heather Ujiie’s Endangered Species, a four-panel, screen-like artwork featuring tropical creatures such as lemurs, a snake, and a toucan interacting with their surrounding vegetation. Michael Hurwitz’s twelve-leaf resin table, whose symmetry is reminiscent of a mandala, complemented the artwork.

Todd Merrill Studio presented a quirky yet opulent selection of furniture and decor elements that paid tribute to butterfly wings, feathers, petals, and fish scales: Jean-Luc Le Mounier’s “Plume” cabinet, a cabinet covered in “fantastically scaled” silhouettes of black feathers and his “Papillon” cabinet, where outsized butterfly wings overtake the cabinet doors. Similarly, Teemu Salonen’s “Chinese Restaurant” ceramic lights were flower-shaped lamps whose petals are reminiscent of the acanthus leaves found on Corinthian columns.

Peter Baker

Todd Merrill Studio at Salon Art + Design 2019

On occasion, nature’s opulence was counteracted by geometric rigor—with a twist: WonderGlass, for example, presented a selection of colorful glass pieces, inspired by the tradition of Venetian craftsmanship, namely glass blowing or cast glass techniques.

Angelica Frey

Opera Gallery at Salon Art + Design 2019

Opera Gallery featured one of the neon constructions of Anthony James, which are kaleidoscopic creations that use neon, mirrors, and geometry to create an illusion of infinity. Hostler Burrows presented Crystal Atmosphere by contemporary Swedish artist and designer Frida Fjellman, a veritable ‘crystal forest’ made by a sequence of suspended hand-blown glass prisms laced to one another by a drooping chain. Designed, in Fjellman's words, to “impart a sense of calm as well as to intrigue and fascinate,” the experience is at once unabashedly romantic and quietly poetic.

Peter Baker

Hostler Burrows at Salon Art + Design 2019

Contemporary art was less represented compared to the high-octane display of design and luxury. Yet, highlights included works by George Condo, such as Seated Female Figure, a woman in the nude wearing one thigh-high boot and opera gloves. Italian Surrealist Giorgio De Chirico was present with L’animal mysterieux: le cheval de Bellerofonte, an anthropomorphic horse whose head contains a tightly-packed akropolis. German Expressionist Max Ernst was featured with an animal-inspired artwork as well: Colombe Blanche depicts a white dove casting what is, at best, described as a negative shadow. And, overshadowed by the statues and statuettes in the booth of Phoenix Ancient Arts was also a small artwork by Andy Warhol, an exemplar of the series Four Hearts.

Angelica Frey

Phoenix Ancient Arts at Salon Art + Design 2019

Some of the artifacts that were shown weren’t just, simply put, stunning: they also had history. Salon newcomer Moscow-based Heritage Gallery, which specializes in early-20th-century Russian and Soviet art displayed a hefty bureau whose legs were made with hunting rifles, and the actual counter is adorned with hammers and sickles. A table made of granite and marble was a great example of Soviet Empire style of the late 1930s -1950s, where architectural elements in decoration from semi-precious and ornamental stones.

Peter Baker

Heritage Gallery at Salon Art + Design 2019

With a few exceptions, such as the Heritage Gallery, in all, it looked like exhibitors were, with their displays, paying a tribute to nature in all of its forms. Pop-culture geeks would think back to Annihilation, Lord of the Rings and any Baz-Luhrmann production. Such outward displays of luxury might be uncomfortable to some, but underneath the “price upon request” tag, there is a wealth of craftsmanship and artistic vision that can’t be denied.

About the Author

Angelica Frey

Angelica Frey is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. She writes about art, culture, and food.

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