Variety characterizes the art and furnishings Renee Fotouhi collects for her New York loft.
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Renee Fotouhi has her own cultured take on living above the store. From her Tribeca exhibition and office space, she deals in fine art for corporate and private clients; her 3,600-sq.-ft. loft above is a gallery-like extension. Yes, Fotouhi opens her home to clients in order to showcase both her wide-ranging collection and her skill in arranging it. Yes, certain pieces are for sale if the price is right.
Fotouhi held positions at the Robert Elkon Gallery and Christie's before striking out on her own in the 1980s and opening galleries in New York and East Hampton, where performances by Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, and Eric Bogosian, among others, shared billing with less ephemeral works. But seven years of back-and-forth commuting took its toll, so in 1998 she settled on Manhattan, first with a Soho space and subsequently with a private gallery.
Lucky is the woman who inherits a loft with marriage, as did Fotouhi. Better yet, 1100 Architect had already renovated the space. Once a wreck, the loft had been completely refitted with services and neatly partitioned with an eye not only toward distinguishing between public and private spaces, but also creating large wall expanses. As the main organizational device, architects Juergen Riehm and David Piscuskas had created a full-height wall to separate the living zone from entry, bedrooms, and baths. Equally important to the scheme were the partition's punched transoms that allow daylight to penetrate the 1,500-sq.-ft. living and dining areas. All Fotouhi had to do was move in with her art and acquire suitable furnishings.
"The art in my home is similar to the art that I sell," Fotouhi says of her personal collection. Like good residential design, it comprises an intriguing blend of photography, old master drawings, contemporary works, and an array of "art" boxes. There are several immediately recognizable pieces, such as one of Bert Stern's famous images of Marilyn Monroe, which hangs above a box sculpture by Louise Nevelson and an Arman sardine can, flanked by Alexander Calder and Reginald Marsh drawings.
Other works are more esoteric. John Hatfield's Aphrodisiacs consists of jars and bottles containing materials that putatively serve as such—chocolate, red wine, ginseng root, vitamin E, zinc, money, and a sea horse among them. The box genre includes Mary Bauermeister's construction of faceted glass pieces, Matthew Barney's multiple made from sugar, and "Boite Alerte," an announcement for a surrealist exhibition held in Paris in 1959. An evocative double-panel pastel, The Blue Nude by Alexander Gianis, looms large over an 18th-century French dining table; a small, truncated sculptural version of that same nude rests on a table in the master bedroom. Even the guest bathroom receives the art treatment, with a painted wall by Katie Mertz forming the backdrop for a Donald Baechler drawing. And what are Fotouhi's criteria for her collection? "It has to be a good value and I have to love it," she responds.
Furnishings illustrate another aspect of Fotouhi's acumen in mixing up different elements into a cohesive collection. Throughout the loft, she has artfully scattered an assortment of rare, custom, and thrift-store finds, melding them into harmonious compositions. Like the art, they were acquired over time. Both collections are ongoing works in progress.