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Robert Loughlin: A Picker and Artist for the Ages
Robert Loughlin is a picker, a person in the antiques trade who combs estates, flea markets, and used-furniture outlets for objects of quality that can be resold. They are an anonymous aspect of the decorative arts market, but of great import for locating new inventory, which, of course, aids both the collector and the decorator.
Loughlin is also a painter and a lot of canvases are items that he cannot sell in their found form: sheets of plywood, chairs, tables, even child carriers and barbeque grills. He almost always paints a distinctive hyper-masculine face that is easiest to typify as school of Tom of Finland.
Paul Johnson was also a picker at the start of his career and became friends with Loughlin at the now lost 26th Street flea market in Manhattan. Today, he is a prominent gallery owner specializing in contemporary furniture—he is exhibiting at the Milan furniture fair this spring—and also continues to sell vintage pieces stemming from those earlier days.
Paul began collecting Loughlin’s works almost from their first meeting and has continued to do so for almost two decades. He now has thousands of examples. Emerson once said something to the effect: each of us makes our own stab at immortality. Perhaps these paintings and this large collection are gestures of eternity.
The exhibit has been extended through April 7. Call the Johnson Trading Gallery at 212-925-1110 for an appointment and location.
My friend Robert Clepper gave us a Loughlin and I used it in this room that I decorated for a piece that appeared in The New York Times—see the column by the window; photo by Dina Sanchez.
Images from top: Robert Loughlin tarp drawing outside fire escape, compliments of Johnson Trading Gallery; images of Loughlin show taken by Nancy Romeu