New York Design Sales / June 2022
Five sales, one week, nearly 800 design works – TDE’s guide to some of the top lots at Christie’s and Sotheby’s this June.
DURING THE COURSE of this week, the two giant auction houses – Christie’s and Sotheby’s – will hold six sales, dispersing 754 works of 20th century and contemporary design. The Design Edits sifts the lots of interest.
This innovative and audacious style will take centre stage, as both auction houses offer a jaw-dropping selection of the most important designers of the period. In ‘The Spirit of Paris’, Christie’s presents a collection featuring 73 Art Deco masterpieces assembled during the last two decades by a private collector.
The Chairman of Design, Christie’s Paris, Sonja Ganne, explains the allure of pieces from that era: “The richness of extremely refined materials such as shagreen, vellum, mica, lacquer, rock crystal, straw marquetery, Macassar ebony, as well as the sleek elegance of carved oak … tells us about a certain art de vivre that prevailed in Paris for a short period of ten years, yet still remains unique and unequalled.” These creations will come at robust estimates, all guaranteed by the auction house.
The top lot is a splendid straw marquetry cabinet (Lot 4, estimate $500,000-700,000) by Jean-Michel Frank and a cubist carpet by Ivan Da Silva Brun coming from the Maharaja of Indore for his modernist palace Manik Bagh (Lot 16, estimate $500,000-700,000).
Together with the various owner ‘Design’ sale Christie’s will present an outstanding selection of works by André Groult, one of the most coveted ensembliers of the era.
Jean Dunand, meanwhile, is one of the best represented Art Deco designers of the week and should the collector not be in the mood for a four-panel screen (Lot 18, $180,000-240,000) they might find happiness in a vase in the various owner sale (Lot 202, estimate $25,000-35,000) or even fall for the game table from the Grand Salon of the iconic Paquebot Normandie (Lot 242, estimate $20,000-30,000).
At Sotheby’s, the collection ‘Zen by Design’ in the various owner sale features some rare works by Armand-Albert Rateau, such as the ‘Reading Stand’ (Lot 327, estimate $220,000-280,000) or an exquisite towel rack designed for Jeanne Lanvin (Lot 315, estimate $40,000-60,000).
The influence of modernism, however, will also be felt through works by Pierre Chareau such as the sculptural ‘Masque’ table lamp at Christie’s (Lot 167, estimate $30,000-50,000) and a rare sofa and side table at Sotheby’s (Lot 407, estimate $300,000-500,000).
On the 10th June Sotheby’s will disperse one of the most important groups of works of American Studio Design ever assembled, from the Pinnacle collection. “This is quite simply as good as modern crafts gets” declares scholar Glenn Adamson in the catalogue’s introduction. With barely a straight line in sight, this encyclopedic sale offers a comprehensive survey of the movement. The dramatic sense of expression emanating from the Wharton Esherick ‘Music Stand’ (Lot 525, estimate $20-30,000; originally created in 1960) seems to epitomise the sculptural, highly expressive and organic approach to furniture that will later become the trademark of the Studio movement. You would not be surprised to see it come to life and dance to the music it holds.
This line of experiment perhaps reaches a culmination in the work of Wendell Castle (a student of Esherick), who is represented by works leaning towards abstraction, such as the witty ‘Three Legged Thumb’ desk and armchair (Lot 569, estimate €80,000-120,000), or the ‘Stool Sculpture’ (Lot 565, estimate $200,000-300,000), bought from the artist.
In the American Studio category Christie’s will be offering a beautiful Harry Bertoia section, which includes a sculptural necklace reminiscent of the iconic ‘Jealous Husband’ piece (Lot 217, estimate $200,000-300,000) and one of the earliest creations of the artist.
With such an outstanding selection records might be shattered.
Giacometti and Lalanne
It would be unthinkable to have a design week with no sign of the design market’s current favourites.
Key attractions for collectors of Lalanne include the two unique versions of the ‘Pomme Bouche’ by Claude gifted to Delphine and Reed Krakoff at Sotheby’s (Lot 169, estimate $80,000-120,000), and the unique ‘Table aux Antilopes’ by François-Xavier at Christie’s (Lot 140, estimate $1,000,000-1,500,000).
As for the Giacometti, Christie’s is offering a moving and rare ‘Bilboquet’ table lamp by Alberto – only four models are currently known – originally acquired by Sonia Delaunay (Lot 8, estimate €200,000-300,000). The highlights for Diego comprise a rare ‘Berceau’ table, modèle ‘aux renards’ commissioned by Lee Kolker at Christie’s (Lot 168, estimate $1,400,000-1,800,000) and at Sotheby’s the preparatory plaster of ‘Le Miracle des Roses’ (Lot 420, estimate $250,000-350,000) as well as the ‘Cerf et Renard’ console designed for an old friend (Lot 421, estimate $1,500,000-2,000,000).
The auction newcomers
“It’s a celebration of design in all of its forms and regardless of origins, as reflected by the Crafting Modernism sale and the collection of Delphine and Reed Krakoff, which is a testament to the collectors’ unique eye and highly curated taste,” says Louis Soulard, head of sale in the Sotheby’s design department.
Indeed, in their collection the Krakoff couple blended contemporary pieces of design, such as the striking ‘Bone’ seating by Joris Laarman (Lot 87, estimate $250,000-350,000 and Lot 103, estimate $200,000-300,000) with the clever avant-garde work of Front Design (Lot 5, estimate $10,000-15,000). Look out also for the delightful table mirror by Patrick Naggar at Sotheby’s ‘Design’ sale (Lot 335, estimate $800-1200).
After two years of design sales, where results rested strongly on a handful of designers, it is reassuring to see such variety and it will be interesting to see which way collectors lean.
Christie’s The Spirit of Paris, 6th June 2022.
Christie’s Design, 7th June 2022.
Sotheby’s A Collection That We Dreamt Of: Art and Design from the New York Townhouse of Delphine and Reed Krakoff, 8th June 2022.
Sotheby’s Crafting Modernism, 10th June 2022.
Sotheby’s Important Design, 9th June 2022.