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05/01/24: Where a Trusted Design Booster Finds Craftsmanship in New York

One of New York's foremost design experts shines a light on craftsmanship; Rothko arrives in Scandinavia; and a photographer of the underserved gets a nod at MoMA.

Odile Hainaut. Photo: Courtesy ICFF

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Where a Trusted Design Booster Finds Exquisite Craftsmanship in New York

This month, hot off the heels of Milan Design Week in April, the art and design crowd descends on New York for a monthlong marathon of fairs, exhibitions, and tony celebrations. It all begins with the local editions of the Frieze (May 1–5), Independent (9–12), and TEFAF (10–15) art fairs, ending with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, aka ICFF (19–21) and the dozens of satellite events surrounding it. At the core of ICFF is the longtime French transplant and inveterate design booster Odile Hainaut, one of the show’s brand directors (along with her constant collaborator, Claire Pijoulat). Hainaut recently oversaw a new visual identity for the fair that will debut this month, in addition to shepherding a new section devoted to craftsmanship called Bespoke. “My love for craftsmanship goes back to when I worked for a fragrance company and we created a collection inspired by Murano glass,” Hainaut says. “I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of a precise geste, the techniques that explore materials to give an object, or a place, a unique and vibrant soul.” As a friend and true believer in the transformative power of design in any culture, I wanted to peek into her Rolodex for the best sources for the handmade in the city. —Dan Rubinstein

Atelier Viollet
“In Williamsburg since 1986, Viollet creates exquisite furniture using different techniques and materials, including marquetry. It’s a family story—of a few generations of cabinetmakers. Jean-Paul Viollet’s team masters all the techniques around marquetry, using all kinds of wood varieties, gypsum, and straw. I had a chance to meet Jean-Paul Viollet about 10 years ago for a marquetry project with high school students. What’s particularly remarkable is not only his unique skills to produce the most ambitious bespoke furniture pieces, but also the desire to transmit those skills to the next generation.”

Grand Illusion
“I’ve known Pierre Finkelstein since I moved to New York more than 20 years ago. As the recipient of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1990, he’s a master in the art of decorative painting and faux finishes. He’s based in Brooklyn and collaborates with architects and interior designers on the most prestigious residential projects in Europe, across the U.S., and in Asia. You’ll look at a mural thinking you’re looking at wood or marble, but it’s painted. To achieve this, he’ll tell you it’s simply a question of working and training a lot. He also innovates new finishes, like a metal one that’s applied on walls or furniture, which is so beautiful.”

Peter Lane Studio
“Peter Lane is well-known for his large ceramic mural installations. I never had a chance to meet him, but I appreciated his work when I toured the recently renovated Cartier mansion on Fifth Avenue, a large ceramic stoneware sculpture with gold-leaf details. I definitely will plan a visit to his massive atelier soon.”

Les Ateliers Courbet
“Based in New York for more than a decade, Melanie Courbet is doing amazing curatorial work with the same passion and commitment to the mastery of craftsmanship. We met before she opened Les Ateliers Courbet; at the time I still was running Gallery R’Pure, a space dedicated to collectible design. We discussed at that time what was missing in New York. She certainly was one of the first to focus squarely on the beauty of handmade techniques from all over the world, and she brought it to the eyes of collectors and the architecture and design community. I’m a huge fan of the work of Mexican artist and designer Héctor Esrawe that’s on view at the moment. Courbet also represents prestigious French manufacturers like Sèvres, Domeau & Pérès, and Les Ateliers Saint-Jacques. Her space is a very special destination in New York for anyone who wants to see beauty.”

Par Excellence
“You know me, Dan: I am passionate about French-American exchanges! This showroom represents the finest French craftsmen, including straw marquetry from Ateliers Lison de Caunes and Atelier François Pouenat. Led by Guillaume Bouchez on Bowery Street, it’s a place for architects and designers to discover and source materials and techniques from French-based manufacturers. France has such a vast diversity of highly skilled artisans, many with techniques that you still can’t find anywhere else.”

From left: Mark Rothko. Photo: Bridgeman Images, Courtesy National Museum; LaToya Ruby Frazier. Photo: Courtesy MoMA

The Meeting of Collections in Marseille; a Monumental Survey at MoMA; and Mark Rothko’s Lesser-Known Paintings (Which Weren’t Rectangles)

Marseille, “From Basquiat to Edith Piaf: Shared Passions” (Until Sept. 23)
This meeting of two collections—the collection gallerist Yvon Lambert donated to the French state, and that of the first museum dedicated to Mediterranean culture—invites a fresh exchange between contemporary and historical pieces. Lambert, who is from Provence, can trace his taste for collecting back to the art of the sunny region. Here, 80 contemporary works from Lambert by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly, and Nan Goldin are juxtaposed with 150 historical artifacts from the Mucem museum.

New York, “Cato: Love Song” (Opens May 1)
New York welcomes the twentysomething artist Cato to its art scene. In the British painter’s collage-like canvases, oversize heads and hands pasted onto geometric bodies radiate with emotion. These portraits are enigmatic snapshots of life, celebrating Black culture and referencing figures from Cato’s life. In preparation for the show, Cato spent his first month living in New York, drawing on the city’s energy and rich history for inspiration.

New York, “LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity” (Opens May 12)
Artist and advocate LaToya Ruby Frazier is, above all, a storyteller. Her photography captures narratives typically left out of the media, such as the effects of closing factories in the Rust Belt and the toxic waterways of Flint, Michigan. In a long-awaited survey at the Museum of Modern Art, Frazier presents selections from her past projects alongside performance art videos, poems, and other materials that highlight the perspectives of Black working-class communities throughout the American Midwest.

Oslo, “Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper” (Opens May 16)
While Mark Rothko is known for his modest abstract rectangles and wielding of color theory, his paintings on paper are a well-kept secret. Toward the later half of his career, Rothko produced hundreds of these watercolors and acrylics, from landscapes and portraits to surrealist styles. The National Museum draws attention to these obscure works in Scandinavia’s first major Rothko survey.

Vienna, “Eva Beresin: Thick Air” (Opens May 1)
In artist Eva Beresin’s painting “Absorbed by Digestion,” two distorted figures wearing royal crowns and cartoonishly big shoes stand in the company of a few critters and what looks like the Pink Panther. In a flurry of wild, dreamlike scenes like this, the Hungarian painter blurs the line between uncanny and funny. The mingling of the grotesque and whimsical in her work is frequently rife with satirical and existential themes. —Vasilisa Ioukhnovets

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