Fair  January 22, 2024  Brook Mason

Highlights from The Winter Show 2024

Courtesy Robert Simon Fine Art

Guido Reni, The Penitent Magdalene, 1637 and Jesse Mockrin, Unyielding, 2023 at Robert Simon Fine Art

The venerable Winter Show, which runs until Sunday, January 28 at the Park Avenue Armory, just marked its 70th anniversary. And it could not be more broadly based, featuring an iconic Picasso, a sublime Turner watercolor, a sleek concert piano designed by award winning architect Rafael Viñoly, and a pairing of works by Guido Reni and contemporary darling Jesse Mockrin, showing the fair's interest in bridging the past with the present.

Photo: Brendon Cook BFA.com. Courtesy The Winter Show

Atmosphere at opening night of The Winter Show 2024

Why the sudden shift for The Winter Show? For decades, the fair predominantly offered Americana and 18th century English furniture. Well, Helen Allen, the Winter Show's Executive Director since 2018, has long been steeped in the contemporary world. In 2005, she founded and headed up Pulse Contemporary Art Fair, in 2010, she co-founded the Washington, DC-based (e)merge art fair and in 2016, she launched a consulting business through which she advises clients in the art, design, and luxury markets.

“Just as taste has shifted with a greater emphasis on diverse specialties the fair has grown in international stature,” Allen told Art & Object. To that end, she reined in a clutch of new dealers including Paris stalwarts Galerie Léage, Nathalie Motte Masselink and Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz.

Photo: Brendon Cook BFA.com. Courtesy The Winter Show

Nicky Rothschild (née Hilton) perusing the booths at The Winter Show

What does this new direction say? “Just the fact that the word antiques has been expunged from Winter Show title tells of a new era,” LA and New York interior designer David Netto pointed out during the VIP preview. Netto has shopped the fair for decades. 

“The robber baron taste of the 80’s has been obliterated and it’s no longer about opulence,” he adds. “Instead today’s avant garde tell of a new eclecticism underpinned by formidable knowledge and a discerning eye." Netto's recently published book David Netto (Vendome Press) has already attracted a slew of tastemakers as his work has been regularly showcased in the pages of Vogue, Architectural Digest, and Elle Decor.

Art & Object scoured the 76 dealers and zeroed in on the must-see examples and each of those highly coveted works would fit supremely in both seasoned and novice collectors’ homes even if some of them are barely 35 years old and their taste runs to either the styles du jour, minimalism chic, or ultra maximalism.

As always, the fair is a benefit for East Side House Settlement, the non-profit that founded and owns The Winter Show, which helps thousands of individuals each year through a variety of programs from early childhood education to workforce development.

Even the opening night attendees—former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, Martha Stewart, interior designer Bunny Williams and Nicky Rothschild (née Hilton), no less—confirm The Winter Show’s enduring allure. 

Courtesy Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts

Watercolor by Rafael Viñoly

1. Rafael Viñoly Watercolors at Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts

The late Uruguayan-born architect Rafael Viñoly, who died in March at the age of 78, and whose New York firm designed large-scale cultural and commercial buildings in nearly a dozen countries, was the ultimate Renaissance man. Aside from turning his talented hands to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and even the somewhat controversial condo tower at 432 Park Avenue, he was a superb pianist and owned, a staggering, nine pianos. New York dealer Bernard Goldberg is featuring not only one of the architect’s pianos but also a number of his watercolors, which are superb in terms of abstract form and saturated palette.

Courtesy Allan Katz

Anonymous Patriotic Birdcage in the shape of the U.S. Capitol. c. 1876 at Allan Katz

2. Anonymous Patriotic Birdcage in the shape of the U.S. Capitol, c. 1876 at Allan Katz

Winter Show executive director Helen Allen cleverly brought on Philadelphia Museum of Art curator Alexandra Kirtley to develop an onsite selling exhibition devoted to nine Americana and folk art dealers. Her endeavor titled Focus Americana includes the high points from a unicorn shaped weathervane, a hooked rug sporting a pair of horses, 19th century quilts and more. New York dealer Allan Katz featured a whimsical birdcage, c. 1876, in the form of the nation’s majestic Capitol building.  “I always say that my favorite folk artist is "Anonymous",” said Katz. “This United States Capitol Bird Cage is a true expression of Patriotism by an unknown Folk artist,” he adds.  Since folk art is routinely defined as functional art from pottery and painted furniture by the people and for the people those early values of simplicity resonate with a broad swathe today. “As more and more collectors now live in eclectic environments they realize that "The very best of American Folk Art holds up to the very best in any art category,” said Katz whose collectors have gifted pivotal examples to such key institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Courtesy Robert Simon Fine Art

Left: Guid Reni (1575-1642), The Penitent Magdalen. Oil on copper. 27 1/8 x 21 3/8 inches. Right: Jesse Mockrin, Unyielding, 2023. Oil on linen. 13 1/4 x 9 inches.

3. Guido Reni, The Penitent Magdalene, 1637 and Jesse Mockrin, Unyielding, 2023 at Robert Simon Fine Art

In this minimalist age with edgy contemporary art highly favored, religious paintings are frequently abandoned to the shadows. Even so, New York dealer Robert Simon—who is best known for the rediscovery of Leonardo da Vinci's work Salvator Mundi—continues to draw a steady stream of clients for that specialty by also offering up the oeuvre of pivotal artists painting today. On his stand, Simon cleverly pairs the 17th century Bolognese Baroque artist Guido Reni’s The Penitent Magdalene side by side with contemporary artist Jesse Mockrin's homage to that painting by Reni. The placement of the works makes it appear that Reni's Magdalene is enraptured with Mockrin's painting. Only Mockrin transforms the figure into a feminist statement by portraying the martyr Saint Agatha who was imprisoned and tortured for her beliefs.

Courtesy Koopman Rare Art

The 20th Earl of Kildare Pair of Silver Candelabra, 1744 at Koopman Rare Art

4. The 20th Earl of Kildare Pair of Silver Candelabra, 1744 at Koopman Rare Art

With home nesting and entertaining de rigueur, antique silver could not be more coveted. And London dealer Koopman Rare Art is hawking the ultimate accompaniment to fine dining: a massive pair of Rococo silver candelabras dating from 1744. By the legendary silversmith George Wickes, the candelabra could not be more elaborate as the stems are in the form of male and female satyrs while the bases are embellished with shells. If that’s not enough, the 17-inch tall candelabras were created for the 20th Earl of Kildare. “They’re worthy of the Met,” says Koopman director, Lewis Smith. Telling of their rarity, the price tag is $1.6 million.

Courtesy Lowell Lipson & Jonny Yarker

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Looking Across a Distant Lake to Mountains, 1831. Watercolor on paper. Lowell Lipson & Jonny Yarker

5. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Looking Across a Distant Lake to Mountains, 1831. Watercolor on paper. Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker

Who hasn’t swooned over Turner’s evanescent sea and landscapes? Although the English Romantic artist’s paintings rarely come up at auction the London dealers Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker are offering a rarity. An 1831 watercolor in delicate slate blue, buttermilk yellow, and a dusty rose was painted after the artist left Petworth, the ancestral home of  his patron Lord Egremont. “Here Turner is beginning to dematerialize forms and render the very atmosphere of the landscape,” says dealer Jonny Yarker.

Courtesy Lillian Nassau

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Diana of the Tower, 1899, at Lillian Nassau

6. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Diana of the Tower, 1899, at Lillian Nassau

Weathervanes are common enough, but New York gallerist Lillian Nassau is offering an example that falls squarely into the realm of American Renaissance sculpture and both architectural as well as Manhattan history. Commissioned by the noted architect Stanford WhiteDiana was Augustus Saint-Gaudens' first female nude and the gilt bronze weathervane was destined to top the architect’s newly erected Madison Square Garden. It was a towering 18 feet in height and tipped the scales at close to a ton. Today that Diana is ensconced in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. However this one was executed in a Paris foundry, the sculpture of a lithe Diana including the base is close to three feet in height. “Augustus developed a new aesthetic, one weaned away from Neo-Classicism but that embodied a new naturalism,” explained Arlie Sulka who heads up Lillian Nassau, best known for its extraordinary Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps.

Courtesy Didier Ltd.

Man Ray, Pendants Pending, 18k gold earrings, 1970 at Didier Ltd.

7. Man Ray, Pendants Pending, 18k gold earrings, 1970 at Didier Ltd.

As Surrealism happens to be hitting a high with a record number of museum exhibitions and climbing prices at auction, the ultimate treasure for a collector with a fashionista vibe could just be this dazzling pair of gold earrings by Man Ray. The 18k gold earrings clip over the ear and no less than Catherine Deneuve whose penchant for Yves Saint Laurent togs in such films Belle du Jour has worn these miniature Surrealist sculptures. They happen to be seven-and-a-half inches in length and that Surrealist photographer and artist even photographed Deneuve wearing his ever so sculptural earrings. “Man Ray took his visual cues from his 1917 lampshade,” says London dealer Didier Haspeslagh. He noted that his field is changing as more museums are acquiring jewelry by major artists.

Courtesy Daniel Crouch Rare Books

Map of the British Empire in America, 1733 at Daniel Crouch Rare Books

8. Map of the British Empire in America, 1733 at Daniel Crouch Rare Books

Vintage maps may seem a snore. However London dealer Daniel Crouch is touting the ultimate historical document detailing the Brits’ takeover of America. Dating from 1733, the engraved and hand colored map is hardly pocket-sized but rather some eight feet square. “It’s the first truly large scale map to name their thirteen colonies," Crouch told Art & Object. "The detail is extraordinary as even small towns like Burlington, New Jersey are included." If that’s not enough, also depicted are both Spanish and French entities in the West Indies as well as North and Central America. Crouch contends that the map is “a profound statement of England’s ambition for dominance of North America.”

Courtesy Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz

Percier et Fontaine Allegories des Arts wallpaper designed by Napoleon’s architects, c. 1800 at Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz

9. Percier et Fontaine Allegories des Arts wallpaper designed by Napoleon’s architects, c. 1800 at Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz

Those seeking to trim up a room in the Neoclassical style should consider this set of wood-block printed wallpaper panels depicting the Allegories of Music, Painting and Sculpture, framed by pilasters and drapery. Designed by Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine whose flourishing firm served Napoleon, his family and clearly other members of the ultra rich. The acclaimed architects were responsible for a number of impressive chateaus right down to the interiors and even the furniture. The provenance could not be more impeccable as the wallpaper panels had been installed in a Lake Forest, Illinois home designed by David Adler and trimmed up by his sister Frances Elkins.

Courtesy Nathan Liverant and Son

Anonymous, Federal Schoolgirl Painted Sewing Table at Nathan Liverant and Son

10. Anonymous, Federal Schoolgirl Painted Sewing Table at Nathan Liverant and Son

Among the treasures within the Americana Focus exhibition is a rarity on a number of accounts. Yes, it’s a Federal sewing table which may seem minor. But dealer Arthur Liverant, whose grandfather founded the Connecticut firm in 1920 says: “It is one of the greatest perfectly painted chests.” While the maker of the diminutive chest is unknown, Liverant believes either a young girl, or perhaps a female teacher, in Maine rendered seashells on the legs and emblazoned the top with a landscape that reflects a rare talent. Surprisingly the colors remain strong. “It’s not a ten," said Liverant. "It’s a twelve."

About the Author

Brook Mason

Brook S. Mason is a 20-year veteran journalist covering the art market, design and the business of art fairs in New York, Paris, London, Basel, Dubai and Moscow. Her reportage can be found in The New York TimesThe Art Newspaper, Financial Times Weekend, artnet News, Architectural Digest online and AD PRO, Le Quotidien de l’Art and Bloomberg. Her focus includes the auction world, fairs and collectors in the US, Europe, Russia, Asia and Latin America along with pivotal architects and interior designers.

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