March 12, 2009 | Dealers, decorators, and clients came out in full force last night to raise a glass in celebration of Maison Gerard's thirty-fifth anniversary. Packed into the gallery's East 10th Street showroom, well-wishers got an intimate look at the firm's fine selection of art deco furniture—a marble-topped rosewood and burl cabinet by Louis Süe and André Mare, a macassar-ebony extension table taking up nearly the entire back room, and an exquisite burled elm vanity by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, among other treasures. Several stunning pieces by the relatively obscure designer from Nancy, Jules Cayette, were flown in and unpacked just hours before the gathering.
Founder Gerard Widdershoven and co-owner Benoist F. Drut spoke with the Magazine ANTIQUES about their history as pioneering dealers in French art deco. Widdershoven recalled that thirty-five years ago, "the neighborhood was filled with antiques importers who brought in pieces by the container load. Their fine 18th- and 19th- century accessories came wrapped in straw and the crates were art deco cabinets! That gives you some idea of what those dealers thought of my inventory." Since that time, art deco has become one of the most consistently popular and highly prized areas of antiques collecting, a fact most recently confirmed by the astounding prices achieved by art deco pieces in last month's Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé auction.
March 11, 2009 | A discreet entrance on East 57th Street leads to the new duplex gallery of Iliad Antik, an expansive emporium of elegant design from the neoclassical, Biedermeier, and art deco eras. To coincide with the firm's tenth anniversary last month the husband and wife team of Adam Brown and Andrea Zemel moved their antiques shop, formerly on 58th Street, to this glamorous new space with gleaming limestone floors and French-polished furniture. Soaring ceilings on the main floor and a dramatic cantilevered staircase to the lower gallery present a contemporary foil to the pieces on display.
An antiquarian and entrepreneur and a studio artist, respectively, Brown and Zemel came to the antiques trade though circuitous paths. After several years traveling abroad and a brief period in Philadelphia, they eventually came to New York City where they opened Iliad Antik. By that time this erudite pair had developed contacts throughout Eastern Europe-where they were known as "the Americans"—in their pursuit of top-notch Biedermeier pieces. Brown and Zemel, who were lenders to the Milwaukee Art Museum's recent exhibition, Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity, specialize in first period Viennese Biedermeier furniture (1815-1830), and these items take center stage in the showroom. One example, a sofa attributed to Josef Danhauser, shows an unerring sense of balance as well as drama, which, Zemer notes, makes it "seem to defy gravity."
[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi» View All