Editor’s letter, April 2009

Elizabeth Pochoda Opinion

We have a new Website 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.

The point is this: where we go and how we go forward on the Web will eventually depend upon our readers. A printed magazine is a one-way street while a Web site ought to be reciprocal. Ours should be the ideal location for the members of the antiques community—writers, curators, readers, collectors, dealers, and scholars—to convene, respond, inform, dispute, or simply loiter. If the world of antiques is as vital as I believe it to be, that spirit should be reflected on this site. So please use it to talk to us-and to each other.

But back to first loves-in my case, print and the city of Philadelphia. We are celebrating the April antiques shows in that city with a guide to its galleries; an article on portrait miniatures, the subject of the loan show at the Philadelphia Antiques Show; an Endnote on a mummer’s costume; and an essay on people and furniture in important Philadelphia paintings. As the author of that essay, Thomas Hine, reminds us, our furnishings speak eloquently about us and for us; as much as we think we choose them to express ourselves, they usually change us in just the way Tom Christopher describes a collection of Shaker furniture transformed the lives of a family of collectors.

What else? Much else: Pugin’s glassmakers in the United States; the last word on the glorious architecture and long history of Madison, Georgia; and, finally, hundreds of miles and many decades away, Columbus, Indiana, where the J. Irwin Miller House awaits the funds that will assure its place alongside Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House as a masterpiece of mid-century American modernism.