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During the 11-year run of Lin-Weinberg, the Soho/Gramercy gallery I owned with Andy Lin, we saw a considerable amount of 20th-century design pass through our doors, both in and out. The entire process was a good deal of fun, as well as a good deal of work, and for a design enthusiast, it was a trip being able to review and judge, restore and display, enjoy, and then pass along a wide array of visually and intellectually stimulating objects. The revolving door nature of the gallery largely cured the impulse to collect, inculcating instead a custodial relationship with the objects of desire.
Largely cured, that is, except for the hundred fifty-odd pieces of American furniture and lighting from the early 1940’s to the mid-1950’s that we assiduously collected and foolhardily squirreled away. Representing the “organic” or humanistic design thinking that supplanted the discredited Machine Age, the pieces we selected tended to be rare—obscure even—and progressive. Over time, four tiers of our storage filled up with edgy and experimental low-cost works, in materials such as plywood, webbing, string, and masonite, by designers such as Dan Cooper, Allan Gould, Bill Lam, Joseph Carriero, Morris Sanders, Fran Hosken, Norman Cherner, Clifford Pascoe, and Henry Glass.
Photo by Eric Laignel.
Interior Design ran a story about this collection, “Out of the Shadows,” in its March 2007 issue, but other than that we have done nothing with these pieces except watch them gather dust. So it was with mixed emotions that I witnessed about 40 pieces get crammed into a truck yesterday bound for the Rago auction, for their October 24 sale. It is a relief to get the revolving door in motion again, but I have come to enjoy visiting the collection, and I had plans to do some type of exhibition with the material (still do, but more on that later). For now, I will miss seeing the Paul Laszlo chair from the 1948 Herman Miller collection, the Joseph Carriero striped bench for Pine and Baker of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Bill Lam adjustable height coffee table for his own studio, the Frank Lloyd Wright plywood chair from the Manson house, and the continuous plywood lounge chairs by Plycraft (rare to the point of non-existence).
Much of interest remains in the collection, and I am lobbying hard to get some of it displayed later this year. It remains to be seen how the market will judge the 40-50 lots that will come up next month at Rago. How do you estimate pieces that have seldom if ever come up at auction before? All I know is that my stewardship is ending, and someone else’s will be beginning, and I’m through collecting until next time.
From top: Pascoe and Pine and Baker chests; varying modern chairs; Norman Cherner hanging cabinets; Plycraft chairs; Paul Laszlo for Herman Miller lounge; Morris Sanders unit case pieces. All images by Larry Weinberg unless noted.