Current & Coming | By Wendell Garrett

Elinor Gordon, 1918-2009

July 30, 2009  |  Elinor Gordon of Villanova, Pennsylvania, the premier antiques dealer in Chinese export porcelain, died on Wednesday July 22, at her vacation home in Osterville on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She was ninety-one years old and had been in the business for more than half a century, helping to build some of the best public and private collections of China trade porcelain in the country. When she received the Antiques Dealers' Association of America Award of Merit for distinguished contributions to the antiques industry in April 2003, Arthur Liverant praised her as "one of the most highly respected dealers in the trade." He went on to name her "the matriarch of ethics and quality....A person dealers look up to." With her passing one thinks of a line in Macbeth: "More is thy due than more than all can pay."

Mrs. Gordon was born and raised on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the daughter of James A. and Helen McIntyre.  Her father was the general sales manager of the Marmon Motor Car Company,…» More

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| By Wendell Garrett

Editorial

April 13, 2009  |  Our tools are kind and gentle words,
Our shop is in the heart,
And here we manufacture peace
That we may such impart

---"Our Trade," Shaker song composed at Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts, 1872

During the first half of the nineteenth century more than a hundred utopian communities with notions of re-creating heaven on earth sprang up across the United States, including some two dozen-scattered from Maine to Kentucky-founded by the Shakers. In these Shaker villages, life was minutely regulated, duties were clearly assigned, and authority as well. Celibacy was the rule, and the sexes were separated so far as practicality would permit, although men and women worked and worshipped in close proximity.

Shaker religious practices attracted attention from American and European observers alike, most particularly the ecstatic, if not erotic, singing and dancing that earned them the sobriquet Shakers. But while the fundamental impulse behind Shaker life was religious, the sect has come t…» More

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Current & Coming | By Wendell Garrett

Editorial

March 6, 2009  |  So during the weeks that [President] Arthur lived in General Butler's old home he generally came to the Executive Mansion every evening after dinner, and made a thorough inspection of the offices and state apartments and living rooms above them. Night after night he would go from room to room...giving orders to change this and that according to his own taste.

---William Henry Crook, Memories of the White House: The Home Life of Our Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt, comp. and ed. Henry Rood (1911)

When James A. Garfield died some eighty days after he was wounded by an assassin's bullet in 1881, Chester Alan Arthur became president of the United States. Born in the Vermont farming community of Fairfield, the son of a Baptist minister, he graduated from Union College and taught school before moving to New York, where he was admitted to the bar in 1854 and entered politics. Six feet, two inches tall, heavily built but well-proportioned, he looked the part of a president. A dandy …» More

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The Market | By Wendell Garrett

Editorial

February 16, 2009  |  The real thing that I am talking about has purity and a certain severity, rigor, simplicity, directness, clarity, and it is without artistic pretensions in a self-conscious sense of the word. That's the base of it-they're hard and firm.

Walker Evans, "Lyric Documentary," lecture at Yale, March 1, 1964, in Walker Evans at Work (1982)

Walker Evans regarded every photographic image as essentially a reference, a ratification, a philosophy of authentication that led him to begrudge the artiness that he so disliked in the work of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. Certainly, the "real" effect conveyed by his photographs predisposes the viewer toward a purely documentary interpretation of his work. As John Szarkwoski observed, his was "another kind of photography that was so plain and common, so free of personal handwriting, that it seemed almost the antithesis of art: the kind of photography that was seen in newspapers and newsreels, on picture postcards, and in the windows of real estate dealers." But Evans's greatness lay in accepting and acquiring the complete knowledge of the paradox of the photographic document: the image as an imprint of reality and as an article of aesthetic meditation.

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Current & Coming | By Wendell Garrett

Ralph Emerson Carpenter Jr., 1909-2009

February 4, 2009  |  Ralph Emerson Carpenter Jr. of Newport, Rhode Island, died on Monday, February 2, in the middle of his ninety-ninth year. Known affectionately as "Mr. Newport" for his lifelong work on the historic preservation of Newport's architecture and for his research and writing on eighteenth-century Newport furniture made by the Townsends and the Goddards, Carpenter was a superbly elegant gentleman. His extraordinary accomplishments masked his sterling qualities as a human being: modest and sensitive, formidable of intellect, dry of wit, warm of heart, he was, as was said of Sir Thomas More, "a man for all seasons."

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NYG 2013

[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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