August 10, 2009 | We have grouped a promiscuous array of things in this issue under the broad umbrella of "folk art": schoolgirl drawings, trench art, manufactured advertising signs, as well as objects more conventionally agreed upon as "folky," such as carved walking sticks and weather vanes.
While it is common to worry about the vagueness of the term folk art, I am inclined to enjoy its dodgy ambiguity. Folk artists operate outside the rules of the academy and, most important, apart from the market forces that drive fine art. The way in which they work behind the back of "great" art gives their work the freedom that draws us in and grants us a certain liberty too. I know how I am supposed to think and feel about the sublimity of nature in a Hudson River school landscape; I don't have that certainty when I run across the large carved dog's head in Allan and Penny Katz's living room. Sometimes it's a thrill to be on your own just as that carver undoubtedly was.
July 17, 2009 | While withholding its authentic treasures for serious seekers, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, makes nostalgia bordering on kitsch easily available. Fortunately, when we embarked on our own West by Southwest migration in this issue we had the benefit of some clear-eyed guidance from Laura Beach, who comes from Santa Fe, and Frederick Turner, who has lived there for thirty years and written widely about American culture and landscape.
You need guides like these to capture the many senses of a place that has hosted major Native American settlements for two thousand years, Spanish settlements for over four hundred years, and only became a state less than a century ago.
Beach's guide to Santa Fe's galleries indicates a vibrant current scene where the ragged conjunctions of Spanish, Native American, and contemporary art have made that city the second largest art market in the country. Her article on the Juan José Prada house now owned by Nedra and Richard Matteucci, who live there with a collection of several centuries of art inspired by the region, is a nice example of how the local dynamic keeps artists and collectors moving forward.
June 24, 2009 | Like many visitors who enjoy unfamiliar cities I like to make my own discoveries. Guides cannot take me where I want to go because their job is to spoil the surprise of a chance encounter. Getting lost in Milwaukee, for instance, once brought me to a Greek Orthodox church by Frank Lloyd Wright on the city's edge. Vienna on foot turned up a well-stocked hat store with a thrilling indifference to any known fashion. You can still find botanicas and deep fried calzone in the Brooklyn that lies beyond the fashionable neighborhoods of Park Slope and Cobble Hill, but it is news to no one that it is hard to be a walker in the city these days if regional flavor is what you are after. Most downtowns have streets so dull there is no point in strolling them unless nationally franchised chains are your idea of a big adventure.
Luckily antiques shops survive and do their part to distinguish their cities and towns by reflecting the personalities of their owners and providing a local experienc…» More
May 8, 2009 | I sometimes stop during the day here and look back at early issues of ANTIQUES. Recently I have been dipping into articles from the 1920s when a passion for rescuing our cultural past from the march of progress swept through the country. The opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's American Wing in 1924 was only one sign of a new enthusiasm for things American. The beginning of this magazine two years earlier was another. Both the museum and Antiques were for the most part free of the prevailing boosterism that led one enthusiast to declare, "Americana is not a hobby, it is a creed." Still, there was a fascinating consensus back then about what was authentically American in the past and what was not.
April 8, 2009 | We have a new Web site here at The Magazine ANTIQUES and I am pleased to say that it is, in its webby way, almost as handsome as the print version. I have high hopes for themagazineantiques.com as the beginning of a genuine community for everyone in the field. Do I dare to dream that this new community will be a little more communal and slightly less quarrelsome than a gathering of dealers? I do, I do, but I would not be an editor if controversy were not at least a condiment on my plat du jour. And so, in addition to posting articles from the magazine, we will also welcome comments and opinions that spark some disagreement and debate.
See, for instance, our recent Web symposium on the $28.3 million sale of the early twentieth-century Eileen Gray Dragons chair at Christie's auction of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé's Collection in Paris. The talk for days has been about nothing except that price and how deeply cuckoo it seems. Maybe so, but most (though not all) of the dealers and curators we asked thought $28.3 million was a sign that the decorative arts were finally moving toward financial parity with the fine arts. Whether or not this is a healthy sign I leave to you to say, and I hope you will.
[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