Interiors, Art and Craft

The Kips Bay Show House opened this week in New York. I found it revealing that the reporter for the NY Times talked more about the house, its former owner and its current owner, than the decorating. I would liken the work of the designers to a six year old’s birthday party, chaotic with a tantrum or two for attention with a couple of really lovely kids who know how to behave. I am certain that almost all the designers are capable of doing great work, but there was little of it on display.

Art in 18th century England was something that was purchased abroad. The Grand Tour was one of the vehicles by which a gentleman became such and en route, he purchased art. One of the better dealers on this tour was the Ambassador to the Court of Two Sicilies, William Hamilton, who was married to the irrepressible Emma, destined to become the mistress to Horatio Nelson, England’s greatest maritime hero. Nelson’s imprint is indelible on England, but Hamilton’s is as well as anyone who has seen the multitude of Greek vases he sold to English tourists, let alone the extraordinary Portland vase that he sold in auction in London, can attest.

The NY Times today has a review of the SOFA (Sculpture Objects & Functional Art) Show at the Armory. The reporter, Roberta Smith, focuses on the word, “craft”, of which she is an admirer. So am I, because art can derive from craft but art cannot derive without craft. Indeed, the exploration of craft is not dissimilar to the observation of the natural world. Would that interior decorators be so moved to the exploration of craft or even the observation of the natural world rather than expressing a sociological convention of the moment. It would be a breath of fresh air.

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