Thursday I previewed Haughton's International Fine Art and Antiques Dealers Show, which runs this weekend through next Thursday, October 28. The promoters appealed to this blogger's vanity by sending me an invite to their press preview, so I slipped out of work and headed uptown for the opportunity to wear a press pass for the first time in my life. It was cool to stroll the aisles without the crowds and to appreciate the beautiful antiques without having to cower in my shabby boots next to the customers who could actually afford to buy these things. But what I really liked was watching the show go up. A sphinx stared at a vacuum, a box of trash bags was tossed at the feet of a leaping rabbit sculpture. Dealers bustled about, or bent down and polished the floor of their booth themselves. Haughton covered the experience in their blog entry "Moving In: The Grease Paint Behind the Glitter."
Like most collectors, I have specific tastes, and what I don't like is dead to me. I have absolutely no interest in mirrors. None. But, as I tried to hurry past, I was beckoned by the publicist for Ronald Philips of London and ended up getting a mini-education in mirrors from Christopher Johnstone. Through his enthusiasm, what was "dead to me" suddenly came to life. This pair of English mirrors, for instance, was made in 1705. Since their size was as large an area as could be blown by an artisan without cracking the glass, owning a pair represented an ostentatious display of wealth. (Since the value was in the glass, they weren't framed, because ... why hide your money?) And now they've survived the trip across the Atlantic. With a $906,750. price tag, they still represent a pretty darn impressive show of wealth.
I kept circling back to the Sladmore exhibit. This company has two galleries in London: Sladmore Gallery, which originated with a collection of nineteenth century bronze animal sculptures, and Sladmore Contemporary. The sculptures on view represented a sleek, beautiful farmyard. After that I was drawn to the Japanese scrolls on display at Erik Thomsen Asian Art. To my disappointment, that afternoon the Japanese screens were folded and tucked away, but it gives me a good reason to visit this NYC gallery in the future.
This year the fair has inaugurated a great blog on which you can follow the events and read dealer spotlights. Better yet, go in person. The organizers promise a range of goods at all price points–start your Christmas shopping early. (Mirrors, anyone?)