At a press preview yesterday for the Pavilion of Art and Design, the popular fair from London and Paris that begins its first year in New York at the Park Avenue Armory on Thursday, the first thing we saw was a piece of text printed on the wall of L&M Gallery’s booth, right by the entrance. It is from Louise Bourgeois: “It is a great privilege to be able to work with, and I suppose work off, my feelings through sculpture.” This is hardly a mistake. A catalog introduction for the fair, penned by Observer columnist and collector Adam Lindemann, discusses the misunderstandings and “serious confusion” of design, formerly known as the “decorative arts,” as its collecting field continues to grow. The text about sculpture is fitting; in this eclectic fair that fills the massive drill hall at the Armory, many pieces walk the line between functional domestic piece and art object.
Walking through the space, one sees Picassos and Monets, mixed in with Giacometti lamps and minimal Austrian dining sets. At Secondome’s booth, there was a large shelf by Walter Visentin that bordered on abstract sculpture, all lopsided and crooked, but still able to display objects. Over at Carpenters Workshop Gallery was another piece blurring the line between sculpture and design, a cabinet by Vincent Dubourg that looked like it was being ripped apart at its center by an invisible tornado, bits of cracked wood jutting out in all directions. Across the aisle from that, at Landau Fine Art, was Modigliani’s Bride and Groom. It is a bombardment of styles, genres and images–if you don’t like one booth, look ten feet away and you’ll see something completely different.
Patrick Perrin, PAD’s founder and co-director told Gallerist they have been trying to come to the Armory for seven years now, but this is the first time that the dates have worked out. He said holding the fair during the auctions in New York was “deliberate.”
“The entire world is here,” he said evenly.
We asked him if he thought Americans had a different relationship to design than Europeans.
“In America,” Mr. Perrin said, “You have major decorators and collectors of decorative arts—I could name Peter Brant, Adam Lindemann—all these people have been collecting for years and years and years. Before everyone. They were ahead of everyone. The relationship is close. It is natural. Just visit the Armory upstairs and look at what architects and designers had been doing here in the 19th century. It’s fantastic and beautiful.”
Later, at a lunch for press and dealers, the seating was arranged so that no two people with booths and no two members of the media were seated next to one another. Press received black plates and dealers got white, an altogether new variation on boy-girl seating. Mr. Perrin insisted on this. He said it was good for conversation. We thought the alternating colors of the table setting made the whole room look more elegant.