May 9, 2012 | Nine leaders in the field discuss the changing antiques and fine arts market.
Jane Nylander, preservationist
The past speaks to Jane Nylander. She has been translating its messages for decades as curator at Old Sturbridge Village, director of Strawbery Banke, and former president of Historic New England.
Are we currently losing ground in our commitment to preserve and conserve our material culture? I certainly hope not. We may be seeing the editing and refinement of major collections, but we also see considerable expansion in terms of what is considered worthy of preservation and conservation. Collections now reflect a broader range of complex cultures as well as multiple hierarchies and longer time lines. Things in poor condition that lack interpretive potential, historical significance, or strong provenance may be, indeed should be, discarded while objects having rich meaning are added. Discovery is always entertaining. Thoughtful evaluation is more challenging. Preservation requires discipline.
In the marketplace there is less and less interest in the very ordinary pieces that were popular for home furnishing throughout much of the twentieth century, but more recent objects have gained in popularity or been re-purposed. How can we not be entertained by Steampunk? Does it destroy or enhance the value of its components?
Do you think the increasing presence of the digital, which by its nature eliminates the physical and the tangible, plays a role in making the antique less valuable? In some cases perhaps so, but digitization greatly expands the number of people who can enjoy and learn about specific objects and kinds of objects. It may provide a quick contact for some, but for others, it may open the door to richer and deeper exploration of the physical reality. It may stimulate pursuit of the "real thing."
You have always maintained that our cultural values are bound up in the materials of the past (our foodways, fabrics, shelter, and so forth). Is it not also possible that one part of the American cultural value system is equally invested in kicking over the traces of the past? Or are there always unpredictable oscillations in the relative prestige of past and present? Isn't it possible that people may cherish the past without being bound by it? For me tradition and historical consciousness are essential parts of the present. Knowledge of material culture enriches the understanding of historical experience. Over my fifty-year career, I have seen levels of interest in various types of things come and go. As time goes by, new groups of people rediscover things that have gone out of favor. They study them from new perspectives and gain new and different understanding. They apply new methods of conservation and preservation. They share information using new technologies and display techniques.
Perhaps you could be seen as a kind of life coach who is uniquely able to reassure people and institutions that being interested in the past will not consign them to the dustbin of history, that the antique is, in fact, a winner having survived the test of time. Is that how you see yourself? I hope so. Can we agree that an interest in the past can greatly enrich one's life by enhancing our ability to see and enjoy the beautiful, to strengthen significant values, and to identify with things and ideas that characterize common human experience in all ages? All too often I see people who do not recognize the elements of beauty or proportion, who see no value in durable goods or values, who thoughtlessly discard things that are useful and/or beautiful. It makes me very sad; they miss out on considerable pleasure and they often waste their money.
I noticed that you are on Facebook (though not by any means one of its oversharers). Do you think that Facebook, which is about the cultivation of communities, could revive and sustain a community whose priorities lie in the material culture? Let's change "lie in" to "include"- then, yes. As you've noticed I haven't made time for Facebook. I find it provides a fascinating insight into the lives of my grandchildren, but I am still busy studying aspects of New England history and trying to help people understand ways to interpret museum collections and exhibitions. I do worry that the short phrasing, abbreviations, etc. required by text messages will further erode people's ability to communicate richly and deeply in writing. Perhaps the academic thesis, the exhibition label, and the catalogue essay will be replaced by something short and sweet, but I wonder if it will provide the depth of understanding provided in recent times by really good writing, which, as you know, takes practice.
Jane Nylander. Bachrach photograph; Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough, NewHampshire. Originally known as Lucknow, the house built for Tom and Olive Plant in 1913-1914 is currently undergoing restoration for the Castle Preservation Society. Jane and Richard Nylander serve as advisors. Photograph by John W. Hession, New Millennium Studios.
May 3, 2012 | Last Chance: Shows Closing this Weekend
Crocker ArtMuseum: "Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey"; to May 6
District of Columbia
National Gallery of Art: "Picasso's Drawings, 1890-1921: Reinventing Tradition"; to May 6.
Smithsonian American Art Museum: "Something of Splendor: Decorative Arts from the White House"; to May 6.
Speed Art Museum: "Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color"; to May 6.
Muskegon Museum of Art: "1934: A New Deal for Artists"; to May 6.
New York City
Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York"; to May 6.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: "Van Gough Up Close"; to May 6.
Charleston Museum: "Fashion Plates: Illustrating History's Latest Styles, 1760s-1920s"; to May 6.
April 30, 2012 |
PHOTOGRAPHS SIGNATURE AUCTION- NEW YORK
Ukrainian Institute of America at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion
Auction Dates: May 1st at 9 am CT
Lot Viewing: FULL PREVIEW April 27 - May 1, 2012 New York, NY
Consignment deadline: February 28, For more information go to http://fineart.ha.com/common/auction/catalog.php?SaleNo=5098
THE AADLA SPRING SHOW NYC
Park Avenue Armory, NY
Auction Dates: May 3 - May 6
Opening Night Preview, Wednesday, May 2 sponsored by1stdibs.com to benefit the ASPCA. The Art and Antique Dealers League of America, the oldest association of fine and decorative art specialists in the United States, will bring together the very best dealers in fine and decorative arts for the second annual Spring Show NYC. Over 50 top dealers will present a sweeping array of fine and decorative art treasures, rare books, and tapestries, ranging from antiquities to 20th C. masterworks. Lectures by noted curators, scholars and designers are included with Fair admission…» More
April 24, 2012 |
April 27-30. Chicago, IL. The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair. The Midwest's premier exhibition of antiques and fine art will showcase more than 100 of the world's top dealers and a wide range of categories and genres, including 20th Century Design, Americana, Architectural Design, Asian Art & Antiquities, Barometers, Books, Ceramics, Clocks, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Glass, Jewelry, Paintings, Posters, Prints, Maps, Sculpture, Silver, Textiles and Tribal Art. For details including show hours, please visit www.merchandisemartantiques.com.
April 27-29. Philadelphia, PA. The 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show. Celebrating its 18th year anniversary in Philadelphia, 46 exceptional exhibitors will present room setting displays of 18th through early 20th century antiques, formal and country furniture, fine & folk art, early toys, marine art, Asian antiques, silver, Oriental rugs and accessories. Amenities include; convenient parking,…» More
April 16, 2012 |
April 19-22. Glencoe, IL. CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN ANTIQUES AND GARDEN FAIR. The best garden antiques from over 100 exhibitors from the United States and Europe. Indoor display gardens and exquisite floral booths. Hours: 10 a.m. til 5 p.m. Admission: $15 at the door, Parking: $20 per car. For more information: (847) 835-5440, www.chicagobotanic.org/antiques.
Apr 20 – 22. Chicago, IL. CHICAGO ANTIQUE JEWELRY & WATCH SHOW This inaugural event will bring 100 of the finest collections of antique, estate and vintage jewelry and watches together for the first time in the Mid-west. No other event can offer these highly sought, unique items to members of the public and trade in this region. Visit www.AntqueJewelryChicago.com for details.
Pickle Dish, American China Manufactory (Bonnin and Morris), Philadelphia, 1771-72. Soft-paste porcelain with lead glaze; height 4 3/16, width 4 1/2» View All