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XIX: 19th Century Design
Design drawings and engravings for buildings, pavilions, furniture and wallpaper for the most eclectic of all centuries.
The 19th Century was an encyclopedia of world design. From the Industrial Revolution to High Victoriana, architecture and design careened from one extreme to another. The dueling empires of France and England flaunted their colonial lands with new styles of exotic decor. In the end, London triumphed economically while Paris flourished as the epitome of luxury.
Most ironically, technology was celebrated while at the same time revivalism of the antique became the definition of "new." World's Fairs were built. The "grand hotel" was invented and foreign travel became commonplace. Design and fashion once again became a visible way to declare one's class.
For over a decade, ArchiTech Gallery has assembled original drawings, watercolors and prints by the architects and decorators who created the varied looks of the world's most eclectic century: A tile floor for London's most exclusive club; Plaster carvings for the finest mansions in Paris; Wallpaper designs for stately homes; Engravings of the spectacular Paris Opera House.
Works by Viollet-le-Duc, Owen Jones, Charles Garnier and the Americans, Burnham and Root demonstrate the breadth of ideas for this watershed epoch. From "Neo-Grec" to Gothic and Renaissance revival to Beaux-Arts and back to Empire, the 19th Century provided something for everyone.
“XIX: 19th Century Design” opens Friday, April 4th to Saturday, August 30th, 2008.
Notes on the Exhibition:
XIX: 19th Century Design
Sometimes an idea for a show happens when I have bought a new collection of drawings with the intention for a full exhibition. Sometimes an artist I've represented presents me with a new body of work. This show started with a housecleaning.
In late 2007, I was forced to move my inventory storage from out of the basement in which it's resided since 1997. After arranging with my current building management to take some rare available space on the floor above me, and constructing storage carrels in the back of the gallery itself, I dug into the old racks.
I was rediscovering framed works I'd either shown once or not at all. When enough things had stacked along the floor, it became apparent that there was an entire show's worth of design drawings and prints from the 19th Century that needed to be seen together (and that I needed to sell).
I always try to tell a story with each exhibition and this one could work as an overview of the various (if polyglot) schools and styles of an entire century. And there was enough of a mix of famous names and unknowns so that the prices could be varied as well.
There were French drawings from my holdings from one of the draftsmen of Viollet-le-Duc and British works that were bought at London auctions. When my earliest Burnham and Root drawings and Frank Lloyd Wright prints were added, this became a pretty complete story of the century's eclectic march to modernity.
I decided that since each drawing and engraving was framed differently that the best visual approach would be to hang everything in a modified "salon" style. "Modified" because the origin of the term was the Louvre's somewhat chaotic method of hanging disparate works in a "cheek-by-jowl" arrangement that saw some frames literally overlapping neighboring paintings and other works almost out of sight just below the ceiling.
Also, since the show would hang through the summer, I could sell off the wall and replace the sold work with another without causing a stylistic disruption. A longtime friend who was a specialist in Arts and Crafts provided a mahogany armchair from the Aesthetic Movement. The show looked wonderful.
After two months, clients have acquired some of the more arcane oddities, including an important design drawing for wallpaper by C.F.A. Voysey that had once hung at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
Housecleaning has its rewards.
Click Here to Read Alan Artner's review
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