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.
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.
March 19, 2012 | The future of the art fair catalogue has arrived... and it is a TEFAF app for a smart phone. At yesterday's by invitation only preview for the European Fine Art Fair in Maasstricht, the most coveted accessory was a smart phone loaded with the new device. Interactive maps help visitors navigate their ways through the vast 265 exhibitor display. It also comes loaded with photographs of objects on offer, video clips, audio files and a curious "Try Out TEFAF" feature that lets you visualize an object in your own environment. The new app can be downloaded for free at www.tefaf.com/mobile.
March 16, 2012 | "The museum doesn't have a shopping list but I hope our collectors do," said MFA Boston director Malcolm Rogers, who accompanied a group of American collectors through the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) on its opening day, March 15.
"I could be tempted to collect Old Master pictures instead of contemporary art," Whitney Museum of American Art director Adam D. Weinberg confessed to Boston collectors Ted and Barbara Alfond, part of the MFA delegation to the show, organized annually in Maastricht, The Netherlands. TEFAF was founded as a showcase for Old Masters pictures but has grown to encompass 265 exhibitors in a range of specialities, from antiquities to contemporary art.
Wednesday, Netherlands Queen Beatrix made a private tour of the fair, which has pulled out the stops in celebration of its silver jubilee. "Her personal taste runs more to contemporary art but she did admire our Bosschaert the Elder painting of flowers," said the London-based Old Masters dealer Johnny …» More
January 1, 2012 |
We asked exhibitors at the Winter Antiques Show to highlight one exceptional object in their booths and describe it as they might to an interested collector. Here are the things they chose, along with some of their comments.
We are thrilled to be bringing a cache of extraordinary objects to the 2012 Winter Antiques Show, including this marble sarcophagus-form planter from the Hurstmont estate in Harding Township, New Jersey. Hurstmont, the country home of industrialist James Pyle and his wife Adelaide McAlpin Pyle, is an 1886 house rebuilt in 1902-1903 by the legendary Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White. The planter is presumed to have been purchased by White in Italy specifically for Hurstmont, along with an impressive marble bench and a replica of the Borghese Vase. According to noted sculptor and scholar Peter Rockwell (son of Norman Rockwell), the carving, which depicts the …» More
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