Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Archive for the ‘Auction’ Category

Too meta

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Catching up after a long break from blogging. T Magazine is featuring its best stories in design for 2013, bringing us back to Chandigarh and the furniture of Jeanneret with a review of Amie Siegel’s Provenance, which follows Jeanneret’s furniture from the dumps of Chandigarh to the auction rooms of the West. Siegel’s video sold for a very meta $52,500 at Christie’s October Post-War and Contemporary sale, probably to another magnate who will enjoy it in his yacht.

Corbu and Pierre on a designer Yacht

Written by Alvar and I

December 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Chandigarh: The Auctioneer Replies

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Chandigarh’s treasures keep selling well. Several went several times above their estimate at the last Wright auction on 31 March (hammer price of $88,900 for the Pierre Jeanneret sofa below). Answering to the attempts by the government of India to have the items removed from the auction, and the controversy surrounding their sale, Wright has put a statement on their website.

The note is quite informative. According to Wright, and this is not really a surprise, the government of India just a few years back left the furniture decaying and sold it at local auctions. French dealers (we think Eric Touchaleaume is one of them) bought some of the furniture back and restored it. Wright also claim the moral high ground – a more dubious argument in our view – when arguing India did not take steps to recognize the furniture as art treasures, while collectors and auction houses actually support their preservation. The note does not say if there have been attempts by India to buy the furniture back at a fair price that would cover the costs incurred by those who salvaged the furniture.

The good faith of dealers does not seem in doubt, and the sellers may have the law on their side. You could argue the same of the Elgin marbles too, but is not the rightful place of the Jeanneret furniture in India rather than in the home of a billionaire?

Written by Alvar and I

April 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Le Corbusier’s Indian masterpiece Chandigarh is stripped for parts

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Chandigarh’s furniture again. A recent article in The Guardian reports the campaign led by Manmohan Nath Sharma, to preserve the capital of Punjab and Haryana and prevent the “removal” of artifacts, including furniture from the numerous public buildings. Sharma was the first assistant of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and later took over as chief architect of the city. A petition to support this effort can be signed here.

It’s true that emulating the success of dealers with salvaged Prouvé furniture from Africa and elsewhere, many of Chandigarh’s furniture, most of it designed by Jeanneret, have surfaced on the market. The forthcoming Philips de Pury & Company sale being the latest example. Atelier also reminds us of this Wallpaper* piece from about 2 years ago.

Some will view this as the market enabling the salvage of beautiful pieces of furniture that would otherwise be lost forever, others will see it as plundering of universal patrimony by unscrupulous merchants. In the absence of facts, hard to tell which is right. The case of Chandigarh is however specific in that there is the need to preserve the whole integrity of the place, its architecture and artifacts (including furniture).

Since there is an effort to draw the attention of Indian and international authorities to the preservation of Chandigarh, we believe this should be supported. Philips de Pury and others can make their profits on what is already and legitimately on the market.

Written by Alvar and I

March 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

James Zemaitis, Sotheby’s @ Big Think

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The man behind the Mark McDonald sale collects… glass insulators. See his interview on Big Think, 1st Dibs’ Eye on design feature, and an older profile on the NYT. Interesting throughout.

Written by Alvar and I

March 7, 2011 at 2:35 am

Posted in Auction

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From our 50’s couch – McDonald edition

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A collector’s dream: the immodestly titled Mark McDonald sale at Sotheby’s on 10 March, already featured on the ever interesting MONDOBLOGOThe North Elevation and Mid-Century Modern Interiors. Really great and instructive to see the beautiful pieces assembled  by a collector ahead of his time. Particularly nice to find a couple Nana Ditzel piece too, including this beautiful modular seating system below: pretty stiff competition for our very own 50’s couch!

Check also the Aalto Chair No. 31, a favorite around this blog. The estimate is pretty low: something wrong with it?

Let’s dream a bit of future blog posts written on this delightful desk by Charlotte Perriand. A similar table was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2004 for $7,200.

Finally check out the Anatomy of a Sale videos about the McDonald auction.

Written by Alvar and I

March 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm

From our 50s couch: Auction edition

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Two additional auctions coming soon. Scandinavian design at Pierre Bergé & Associés in Brussels on 28 March and 20th Century Decorative Arts and Design at Christie’s in London on 24 March. Click on the catalogs below to access the auction’s site.

Written by Alvar and I

March 17, 2010 at 2:12 am

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From our 50s couch

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Spring is coming and so are auctions in the United States:

1. Wright Modern Design, March 23rd, with a large selection of American designers. Some fine European pieces too. Since the chair is the emblem of this blog, these two Alvar Aalto Model 21 have caught our eye. Not in pristine condition, but clearly pre-war models sourced in the U.K. See also several pieces by Pierre Jeanneret from Chandigarh (Wright offered some already last year): it will be interesting to see how they fare compared to last week’s Artcurial auction.

2. For Eames lovers, Wright Eames Auction on April 8th. Given the size of Charles and Ray Eames production and the number of knock-offs, we always found it a challenge to identify good Eames vintage. A catalogue raisonné would definitely help. We can trust Richard Wright to assemble a great selection for us. Looking particularly forward to a nice vintage ESU model.

3. Treadway-Toomey Galleries Auction, March 7th,  with two fine lots of a K.E.M. Weber armchair by Lloyd Manufacturing. See our previous post on Weber.

4. Rago Arts is inviting consignements for its Modern Auction on April 25th.

5. LAMA is also inviting consignments for its Spring Auction.

Written by Alvar and I

March 1, 2010 at 2:14 am