An Antiquarian's Tale, Issue 157

Clinton Howell Antiques - November 29, 2021 - Issue 157
An Appreciation of English Antique Furniture
A semi biographical journey of my life in the English Decorative Arts
Coincidentally, after my observation that skirt lengths changed after  the introduction of the mini skirt, I learned that Parisian women (how many I have no idea) painted their knees to protest long skirts in the 1920's. History seems to have a way of reminding us that nothing  really stays the same and yet similar things happen time and again. Fashion can act as a lever to open a door, just a crack perhaps, but in the long run, that opening resonates and likely gets revisited until something changes altogether. And although I learned that I am not a huge fan of Jasper Johns, I enjoyed seeing the exhibition of his work at the Whitney Museum, and a few of his paintings, I liked a great deal. What does this have to do with fashion? If ever there was a business that is buffeted by fashion, it is the art business. From time to time, I wonder if I would ever have been able to be an art dealer--could I see truly great artwork or would I just go with the flow? Or would I, as I have done with my antique furniture, chosen a passion and remained an island in the stream?

Having said this and having seen Jasper Johns at the Whitney, my daughter and I, who were on a day of culture in various venues around New York City, finished our day with Wes Anderson'a film, "The French Dispatch".  I can't spoil the film for you no matter how much I write about it as it is full of visual puns and references, not all of which I recognized, that will make you chuckle, perhaps even laugh out loud. It is about the last issue of a magazine based in Ennui (or was it Ennui sur Blase?) France that was started by an American who went to France and became inspired to start a magazine for his native Kansans. The film runs through the four articles that are the final issue, as told by their writers, the most amusing one being the review of an artist, a genius of course, who was incarcerated for the murder of a barkeep and inexplicably, after being in jail for ten years, begins to paint. And then he is discovered by a fellow inmate from a famous firm of dealers (tax evasion?) and the story gets more involved and bizarre-the genius of the artist eventually to be acknowledged by all.

Our day started at The Shed that lies next to the ill-fated and still closed Vessel, an aerial walkway, located in what was the meat packing district on the West Side of New York on 30th St. The Shed is an exhibition space that currently has an exhibition by Studio Drift, a Dutch couple I know nothing about other than the fact that I was going to see their work on Saturday morning. En route, I walked down along the Hudson and noticed an odd phenomenon--fish swimming near the surface in circles--three separate times. The natural world never ceases to amaze me and so when the first exhibit by Drift was lights in a ball with dandelion seeds glued to them, hundreds of them, each in a compartment stacked in frames that looked like mini-apartment complexes, I was just a tad baffled, but most certainly in awe of the work involved. Drift seems intent on connecting the natural world, physics and manmade materials and having fun with them. I can't fault them for that and the final exhibit was certainly awe inspiring. It is the dance of the concrete blocks--five enormous blocks (faux concrete, but that didn't matter, they looked like concrete and they were big, six by six by twelve at a guess) suspended, their guy wires artfully hidden, with the blocks dancing above us in the large enclosure of the shed. Very impressive and it eventually called to mind Walt Disney's,"Fantasia", and the "Dance of the Hippos".  Art can be a lot of fun.