Widely regarded as the premier art, antiques and design fair in the United States, the annual Winter Show has returned in all its glittering glory at New York’s landmark Park Avenue Armory (January 20-29). Both serious collectors and casual observers can browse the carefully curated stalls of verified works.
Last year, the Winter Show took up residence in the shell of Barney’s former Madison Avenue flagship — a clever if temporary move prompted by pandemic concerns. For 2023, the New York exhibition returns to the vaulted expanse of the Armory, where it has showcased historical treasures for 65 of the last 69 years. Once again, it aims to delight visitors with items spanning 5,000 years of human history, selected from galleries around the world – 68 in all.
It is an amazing selection of works, ranging from vibrant contemporary ceramics and jewelry to gilded antiques and furniture of the more traditional variety, offering visitors to the exhibition not only aesthetically pleasing but also historically significant art and objects throughout the ages.
Each item on display is checked to ensure the highest standards of authenticity and quality. “We have 120 experts in 30 areas, from antiques and metalwork to European painting and textiles to 20th and 21st century design – to name a few,” the fair’s executive director, Helen Allen, told Artnet News. The review boards change each year, she added, depending on the disciplines on display. “Our vetors are a combination of dealers, curators, restorers and former auction house specialists.”
When asked if she spotted any trends on the supply or demand side this year, Allen said, “There’s definitely a big push to represent artists that are often overlooked in the contemporary market and we’re seeing a strong interest in that through focused presentations. As an example, she pointed to exhibitor Robert Simon, who has curated an exhibition of work by women artists from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
Nestled in a dark corner of Heroines of the Brush is a small but arresting depiction of the Madonna and Child by the nun artist Suor Plautilla Nelli, the earliest known woman Renaissance Painter of 16th Century Florence. “Plautilla Nelli is a particular interest of mine,” Simon told Artnet News, “I’ve studied the artist since I was in graduate school and, as rare as her paintings are, I had one about 15 years ago.” This was acquired, he explained, after it recently emerged from a private collection in Tuscany, where it was considered an anonymous work. “But the style is unmistakably hers, and the attribution of the painting to Plautilla Nelli has been confirmed by two scholars who have published on the artist.”
The 2023 edition brings 14 new exhibitors to the Winter Show. underneath, Eguiguren Arte de Hispanoamérica from Buenos Aires, Argentina, exhibited an impressive selection of antique Hispanic American art and equestrian silver. Imperial Art, from Paris, specializes in pre-revolutionary French paintings and art objects. The centerpiece of the stand is a floor-to-ceiling royal portrait of the king Louis XIV by the workshop of Hyacinthe Rigaud. PDepicted in his coronation robes, the Sun King commands allegiance.
They join returning exhibitors Geoffrey Diner Gallery, specialist in post-war art and design, particularly the designs of George Nakashima and Gio Ponti. The stand’s all-wood Nakashima table is an excellent example of the artist’s experimentation with free edges and cracks. Hirschl & Adler Galleries of New York also returns with American and European paintings, such as those by Charles Willson Peale, who not only painted leaders of the American Revolution but also took part in battles. And long-time exhibitor Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts greets visitors entering the armory with three bronzes: the miniature by Auguste Rodin Pierre de Wiessanta reclining figure by Henry Moore, and the towering one by Jacques Lipchitz lesson of a catastrophe (1961-70). Their depiction of a phoenix rising from flames at the front entrance is an unmistakable reiteration of the fair’s revival message.
Lilian Nassaualso returns with a variety of Gilded Age stained glass works from Tiffany Studios, as well as a filigree stained glass window attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright. Michele Beiny brings exquisite contemporary ceramics and antique porcelain from Meissen and Sèvres. A gold cast of German supermodel Veruschka’s lips – designed and cast by Claude Lalanne, made by Milanese jeweler GianCarlo Montebello – beckons from the stand of Didier Ltd jewellery, commissioned by Yves Saint Laurent in 1969 and published in Fashion in December of the same year.
Pennsylvania dealer Kelly Kinzel has launched a real head-turner, a limited edition 1930 Commodore Roadster by Italian luxury car maker Isotta Fraschini, which Kinzle compared to England’s Rolls-Royce, its main competitor at the time. “It really takes the air out of the room,” he beamed, explaining that the car could hit 100 mph, which was quite an achievement in its day. Kinzle said his asking price is $1.45 million for this exemplary automobile, which features a Lalique hood ornament.
Medieval buffs will want to stop by the Daniel Crouch stand, where a Volvelle astronomical calendar takes pride of place among rare books and antique maps. Crouch said it was the only such calendar to survive from the Middle Ages and hung in the cloister of the Abbey of San Zeno in Verona, Italy, for over three centuries, where it would have been seen by all the monks several times a day. Crouch explained that using its own time-recording rotation mechanisms, the object was dated to around 1455 — which he noted is within a year of the Gutenberg Bible being printed. The stellar origins match its price tag of $1.5 million.
A must-see display isn’t for sale: The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), in partnership with the East Side House and Bank of America, is displaying treasures from two of its costume collections — the exquisite, hand-tailored ones qipaos by Aileen Pei (stepmother of architect IM Pei) and the intricate operatic dresses of the Chinese Musical and Theatrical Association, which promoted opera in New York’s Chinatown, especially in the 1920s and 30s, the golden age of Cantonese opera in the United States and kept .
In addition to impressing visitors with their worldly wares, the Winter Show serves another purpose: to support the East Side House Settlement, a community-based organization that benefits the children, families and community of the Bronx and north Manhattan. The fair will use all proceeds from ticket sales for this purpose, which it has done since its inception in the 1950s.
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