The International Fine Art and Antiques Dealers Show at the Park Avenue Armory is a wonderful spectacle, a treasure trove of beautiful things. The fair features dealer offering antiquities, old books, paintings, decorative objects, furniture, and fine jewelry. The show, in its 21st year, has welcomed new dealers this year due to the weak economy that has forced some dealers to stay home. However, inside the armory one would never know that there is a recession outside. Attendance has been overwhelming and judging by the happy smiles on dealers’ faces, sales are not a thing of the past. This year there is a strong presence from galleries specializing in twentieth-century decorative arts. New dealers such as Galerie Lefebvre of Paris, Primavera Gallery, Jason Jacques, and Bernd Goeckler Antique, all of New York, have brought the very best of what they have to offer. Primavera’s elegant booth is home to notable pieces such as the white onyx sculpture titled “Woman Bathing” by the French sculpture Pierre Traverse (ca. 1928-1930) and the equally breathtaking beauty of Jean Dupas’s “La Danse,” an early drawing for the renowned Art Deco artist, she is from 1920 and hints at the ensuing modern art movement that is to come during the next five years, culminating with the 1925 Paris exposition which gave the Art Deco its name. This drawing is also remarkable because it is a study for a larger work, “Le Pigeons Blanc” that has since been lost. Also of interest is the incredible sideboard by relatively unknown artist-sculptor Claude Santerelli made of solid macassar wood and decorated with brass panel reliefs (ca. 1960), a beautiful combination of smooth and rough textures. And an exquisite Philip Lloyd Powell carved walnut sideboard that hasn’t been seen in this country since the client, an American diplomat living in Paris, shipped it there shortly after Powell made it for him in the 1960’s. The walnut sideboard was one of the first pieces sold by the gallery on opening night.
The theatrical booth of “pot dealer” Jason Jacques is fabulous. Jason’s love for ceramics is evident in his artful displays and his enthusiasm for the subject is contagious. The Zsolnay snake called “Venom” (ca. 1900), which also doubles as a pitcher, comes from the collection of Yves Saint Laurent. This functional sculptor is incredibly beautiful and the shine on the scales of the snakes head is characteristic of the iridescent glaze, known as “eosin,” that the company has been famous for since 1853. As a furniture lover myself, I am taken by the large white sideboard and the dark vitrine on display. The white wooden sideboard (1909) with pigeons on the door handles are by the Swedish architect Ragnar Östman and the Jugendstil vitrine of wood and copper (1901-1902) is by Patriz Huber, who was one of the central figures of the Darmstäd Arts Colony.