‘I want to provide our readers with inspiration, immediacy and a little fantasy,’ said Whitney Robinson after being named Editor-in-chief of ELLE DECOR in June of this year. The former Town & Country style editor explained that his vision would incorporate ‘spectacular visuals and compelling writing on interior design, fashion, travel, real estate and art, all inseparable elements of a stylish life.’ On Monday 11 December, Robinson will speak at the Christie’s Lates event at our Rockefeller Center galleries.
Ahead of ELLE DECOR’s curation of our last Christie’s Lates of 2017, Robinson drew up a wish list of lots selected from across three of this month’s New York sales: First Open | Online (9-14 December), which features paintings, sculpture, works on paper and photographs by emerging and established post-war and contemporary artists — all with enticing estimates; Interiors (12-13 December), which includes a selection from the Collection of Elizabeth Brooke Blake; and Design (14 December), a tightly curated sale that includes an extensive selection of Tiffany glass lamps, a Diego Giacometti table, three Lalanne sheep, and much more besides.
This is what he chose.
Paul Evans studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Although he worked in metal, he was a member of the American Craft Movement, often considered a confluence of modern design and folk art. ‘The gilt and silvered metal surfaces of this side cabinet pop out at you, but this is still versatile enough to use in almost any room,’ Robinson says. ‘There is warmth and edginess in the design.’
The ‘Wisteria’ table lamp from Tiffany Studios is an icon of 20th-century American design. With saturated blue tones, organic lines and thousands of pieces of individually selected Favrile glass, it is a triumph of craftsmanship.
‘This Tiffany Studios table lamp is truly a work of art,’ Robinson says. ‘Its gorgeous silhouette traces the natural shape of wisteria, and the illumination through the leaded glass creates the subtle illusion of dimension. Wisteria is one of my favourite signs of spring, and this sculptural lamp is a warm reminder of the season.’
‘The Grand Coromandel trumeau is one of the most iconic examples of Piero Fornasetti’s irreverent approach to design and decoration,’ says
Vanessa Booher, design specialist at Christie’s in New York. ‘His imaginative and often surreal decor would break the monotony of any interior. This cabinet is based on a prototype designed with Gio Ponti and presented at the Milan Triennale in 1951.’
‘With its richly coloured and sumptuously decorated lacquer surfaces, this Fornasetti trumeau is the definition of statement furniture,’ observes Robinson. ‘An entire room could be built around such an iconic piece.’
This glass and patinated table by Diego Giacometti was purchased from the artist in 1974 and has remained in the same family since the 1980s. ‘The four frogs on the glass seem to be perched on a still pond,’ says Robinson, ‘while the owls underneath appear to be watching over whatever room this luxurious piece is placed in.’
Challenging Western histories, much of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art honours black men as heroes and kings. This work on paper, executed in colourful bursts of red and blue, hails from his ‘Famous Negro Athletes’ series. It features the crown motif, Basquiat’s signature tag during his time as a street artist, while the baseball player with backwards hat nods to sports and pop culture.
‘Basquiat is known for his spontaneous and dynamic compositions,’ notes Robinson. ‘This a nice mix of fine art, street art and sport.’
Offspring of the iconic ‘Mouton de Pierre’, a group of 10 sheep designed in the 1970s by François-Xavier Lalanne, these lambs are also made of epoxy stone over a bronze frame and stand just over 20 inches — or half a metre — high.
‘They will add character to any room or garden,’ says Robinson. ‘Their playful demeanour contrasts nicely with their resilient construction and design.’
Yves Klein filled his acrylic tables with radiant pigments such as his International Klein Blue (IKB), hot pink or crumpled gold leaf. In 1961 the artist produced two prototypes for the tables by sprinkling pigments into wooden containers, but the pieces were never completed in his lifetime.
In 1963 his widow, Rotraut Klein-Moquay, posthumously produced the acrylic tables from Klein’s prototypes in a controlled edition. In the sumptuous Table d’Or, 3,000 sheets of gold leaf shimmer under transparent Plexiglas.
This sofa and pair of club chairs designed by Syrie Maugham in the first half of the 20th century ‘beckon me to settle in, relax and have a chat’, says Robinson. ‘The button-tufting and hot pink hue hint at a bygone era, but they don’t mimic it.’
Bliss Summers, Decorative Arts specialist at Christie’s in New York, adds, ‘This set demonstrates Maugham’s ability to adapt Victorian furniture forms of the late 19th century to the burgeoning modernity of the 20th century, without sacrificing comfort or character.’