Cultured Magazine

Summer 2013

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COURTESY OF STEINITZ GALLERY, CARPENTERS WORKSHOP GALLERY WHAT IF... Installations at Steinitz Gallery (left) and Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Two Parisian galleries—separated by several arrondissements and at least as many centuries—unite in Basel for one collective display of design. BY LINDA O'KEEFFE On any given day a typical display at Steinitz Gallery may include a Louis XV chair, a 14th century metal goblet, a lacquered trunk from Japan's Edo period, a Renaissance bull's head and an exquisite pair of doors once owned by Catherine de Medici. Layered against period boiserie wall paneling on four floors of a Parisian hôtel particulier none of curator Benjamin Steinitz's museum-quality objets d'art ever comes into contact with any contemporary woods particularly in the restoration rooms where they're literally banned. In contrast, at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in a spare, modernistic white space in the 4th arrondissement modern day materials and the innovative use of age old methodologies are integral to the functional sculptures owners Julien Lombrail and Loïc Gaillard conceptualize with their stable of contemporary designers including Maarten Baas, Atelier van Lieshout, Marc Quinn, Johanna Grawunder, Sebastian Brajkovic, Studio Job, Frederik Molenschot Marcel Wanders and Pablo Reinoso. Dissimilarities between the two galleries are many but they share an aesthetic core by acknowledging the symbiotic beauty between certain antique and contemporary pieces that were created centuries apart; both blur the lines between art and design; they prize decoration in a climate where the phrase "ornament and crime" still gets bandied 68 CULTURED about even though it was first mentioned over a century ago and, unlike a lot of furniture dealers, they refer to craft in respectful rather than dismissive terms. So their decision to stage a joint exhibit and redefine the current notion of modernity is a secure statement rather than a provocation. It's their first collaboration and the first such venture for the fair. All the objects they plan to show have pronounced narrative, which is either applied by the artist or stems from meticulously researched provenance. Constructed from polished and patinated bronze the 2009-2012 Chartres Aftermath from Studio Job is a somber piece of architecture born from designers Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel's premonitions of "impending doom and the transience of life's greatest treasures: love, trust and hope." Its back is a scaled down representation of the Gothic cathedral's cruciform floor plan and its sides depict its northern and southern elevations. In earlier incarnations of Chartres where Smeets and Nynke perfected a technique of lazar marquetry they studied the artistry of 18th century ébéniste AndreCharles Boulle who coincidentally is a contemporary of Bernard I Van Risenburgh the maker of a Steinitz piece, the Allegorical Cabinet of Cardinal Virtues. A 1700s testament to moral rectitude its traditional veneer of palm trees, cavorting dogs, birds and tam- bourine players uses tortoiseshell, brass, copper and bronze to sing the merits of prudence, justice, restraint and courage. Atelier Van Lieshout's 2011 illuminated bronze sculpture, a figurative parable about confinement and human co-existence shares a commonality with a late 18th century table where hanging chains and carved claws, bludgeons and arrowheads tell the heroic tale of Hercules slaying the Nemean lion. The gadroons, arabesques and scrolls covering a set of decorative panels that once lined the salon walls of James de Rothschild's mid-19th century Parisian mansion are visually connected to CL-30, Molenschot's lyrical and sensually curved bronze chandelier even though it was inspired by a blurred city nightscape. Steinitz and Carpenters Workshop have their own loyal, diverse clientele and this experiment will gauge whether it overlaps. At Steinitz traditional decorators often rub elbows with curators from the Getty, the Louvre or the Met while interior designers and architects frequent Carpenters Gallery in search of the new and the stylistically provocative. One thing's for sure after seeing both inventories in such an unexpected context anyone who attends the exhibit will reconsider the definition of 'eclectic' when they next hear it applied to a contemporary collector.

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