A WEST COAST MODERNIST (LOTS 250-277)
This elegant group of furniture is from the collection of the noted architect John Yeon (1910-1994). A lifelong resident of Portland, Oregon, Yeon was an early practitioner of the Pacific Northwest style of architecture, combining a clean, modernist aesthetic with a deep-seated sense of place and respect for landscape.
His most famous house was created for the lumber tycoon Aubrey Watzek in 1937, when Yeon was only 26 years old-an astonishing achievement, since he was largely self-taught as an architect. The Watzek House is characterized by its use of local materials such as noble fir; by sweeping views from panoramic windows, and by the beautiful flow of its rooflines. The house was widely published in the 1940s and 1950s, most notably by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and is soon to be named a National Historic Landmark.
In contrast to the clean lines of his architecture, the European furniture Yeon collected was richly sculptural and rococo in flavor, with a particular emphasis on sumptuous painted pieces from Venice. He bought from celebrated dealers, especially Adolph Loewi, and many of the objects have been featured in significant museum exhibitions. Yeon also assembled an important collection of Asian arts.
Yeon was also noted for designing and installing museum galleries, including many at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; the Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; and the Portland Art Museum.
When the original owner of the Watzek House died in 1973, Yeon purchased it to protect it from change. He furnished it but did not live there. The subsequent owner has gifted the house to the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts, to be preserved and to serve as the John Yeon Center for Architectural Studies.