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Contrast Sells (at the Winter Antique Show)
For many years, I have helped with the decoration and arrangement of Titi Halle’s booth at the Winter Antique Show. She owns Cora Ginsburg, which is the premier gallery for antique and historic textiles. Last year I wrote a posting about Cora.
Titi carries on a tradition of the gallery exhibiting at this august show. The Winter Antique Show, which started 56 years ago, has long been associated with the American decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries, and related European material. It is the centerpiece of New York’s Americana week, during which many of the city’s galleries and auction houses organize related sales and exhibitions. Each year, the scope of the antique show broadens, taking into account changing collecting patterns and efforts to attract younger collectors. This year, for example, there are booths of classical antiquities, Asian arts, and 20th-century design. (For an engaging description of the opening party and a review of the show, see David Patrick Columbia’s column on The New York Social Diary.)
Even with this movement to diversify the exhibits at the show, very few of the booths display objects of various ages and origins. Titi’s booth is the exception. This year, her booth shows the full expanse of her wares, from ancient textiles to examples from the 1970’s—this is quite a long way from Cora’s first displays in the earlier years that focused on 18th-century samplers, dresses, and quilts. This new contrast makes Titi’s display very appealing.
When I worked with Titi at this year’s show, I encouraged her to play on this contrast and eschew her first instincts to place like things together—an easier way to hang her things, but not as visually striking. Therefore, on the main wall, we hung an early American crewel work of the tree of life, two panels of indigo crewel work, an Italian valance, a 1960 panel by Barbara Brown and rolls of fabric from the great British design concern, Heal’s. It seems to be working. Cora Ginsburg did very well at the show.
(The Heal’s pieces are not shown here, but are certainly some of the great stars of her booth and worth learning more about.)
Remember, contrast sells.
Images from top: a printed linen design by Don Smith called “Nesting” for L. Anton Maix; circa 1952-53, blue crewelwork, English, circa 1700-1710; the view inside of Cora Ginsburg’s booth on the opening night of the Winter Antique Show; outside view of booth; ther interesting contrasts from Titi’s booth; crewelwork panel, American, mid 18th century; block-printed tree of life mezzaro, Italian, circa 1830; Titi Halle holding up a Salesman’s sample of block printed Foulard designs, French, mid 19th century, while setting up her booth at the Winter Antique Show.