As it is the 58th year of the Winter Antiques Show, I thought it might be interesting to try and understand just what it is that people want from shows, particularly shows in the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Ave. It is the premiere venue for art and antique shows in New York City and it is also the home of several other prestigious fairs during the year. But at the moment, people, dealers and organizers alike, are wondering just what the buying public wants.
Antique shows are seemingly up against a reality that precludes young people from liking antiques, that what they like is design. If I were to ask my son or daughter whether or not they would like to live with antiques, I know that they would immediately understand that antiques are all about design. The minor inconveniences that are associated with antiques, be they water marks, veneer mishaps or whatever, are worth the beauty that comes with a good to great piece of furniture. But they are the choir and I am the preacher so perhaps this sample is a tad unfair.
The larger world, those people that might fear being old fashioned by owning antiques, often derisively called brown furniture, is another story. I specialize in mirrors and can say that they generally elicit awe from people, particularly when they are dry stripped and show a lovely old surface. They are as close to a work of art that a piece of furniture can be. Are they possibly too sophisticated? I can’t answer that question either, but if you want to brag about them, you are going to have to learn a little about them as well. Perhaps that is off putting?
The question is what people want to see in a show? Do they perhaps want a mix so they can make a choice between a Chippendale chair or something from the 1950’s? Such questions are endless and pointless, silly even. I think what any fair wants to provide are beautiful things. In my mind, a dealer that focuses on the aesthetic and authentic is what anyone should want to see in a show, the period of what is being sold notwithstanding. This is the crux of the situation. For people with the fear of being old fashioned, I have no answers save for the fact that they are missing out by not looking at everything.