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Finds From the LA Modernism Show

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The 22nd annual Los Angeles Modernism Show, held May 1–3 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, featured more than 70 exhibitors with mid-century wares trucked in from all over the country. Sponsored in part by the peripatetic über-site 1stdibs.com, the show was mostly hits and a scant few misses, and vendors looked beyond their choice Le Corbusier and Eames gems to bring spectators something a little more unexpected. Check out some of our favorite pieces from the showroom floor, culled by writer Erika Heet.
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  Lino Sabattini Coffee and Tea ServiceIn the 1950s, Gio Ponti championed the designs of Lino Sabattini, a self-taught designer of cutlery and tableware, born in Italy in 1925. After Ponti placed his designs in the magazine Domus in 1956, Sabattini joined Christofle as design director, a post he held until 1963, in which he produced abstract modern metalware. He remained prolific through the 1990s, when he created the four-piece Fenice coffee and tea service consisting of a silver-plated coffee pot, teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer in a form that still hints of the atomic era. $19,500 from Dragonette

    Lino Sabattini Coffee and Tea ServiceIn the 1950s, Gio Ponti championed the designs of Lino Sabattini, a self-taught designer of cutlery and tableware, born in Italy in 1925. After Ponti placed his designs in the magazine Domus in 1956, Sabattini joined Christofle as design director, a post he held until 1963, in which he produced abstract modern metalware. He remained prolific through the 1990s, when he created the four-piece Fenice coffee and tea service consisting of a silver-plated coffee pot, teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer in a form that still hints of the atomic era. $19,500 from Dragonette

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  The Kuba Komet Television Produced in Germany between 1957 and 1961, the Kuba Komet television is an archetype of modernism. The palm-and-maple behemoth with a shiny polyester coating was a self-contained entertainment center that included a radio and record player, eight speakers, and a swivel top for easy viewing. Currently one of only three known to still exist (the others are housed in the Frankfurt Communications Museum and the Kuba Museum in Wolfenbüttel), it stands 5 foot 7 inches tall, measures seven feet wide, and weighs nearly 300 pounds—a hefty addition to any collection. If you see one at a garage sale, it will be worth the effort to haul it home. Contact Off the Wall Antiques for more information

    The Kuba Komet Television Produced in Germany between 1957 and 1961, the Kuba Komet television is an archetype of modernism. The palm-and-maple behemoth with a shiny polyester coating was a self-contained entertainment center that included a radio and record player, eight speakers, and a swivel top for easy viewing. Currently one of only three known to still exist (the others are housed in the Frankfurt Communications Museum and the Kuba Museum in Wolfenbüttel), it stands 5 foot 7 inches tall, measures seven feet wide, and weighs nearly 300 pounds—a hefty addition to any collection. If you see one at a garage sale, it will be worth the effort to haul it home. Contact Off the Wall Antiques for more information

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  Antonio Pineda Belt BuckleUnder the guidance of silver genius William Spratling, Antonio Pineda created a body of work out of his hometown of Taxco that could easily be considered the most impressive volume of Mexican silver pieces in existence. The Taxco School and its silversmiths referenced historical forms from pre-Columbian to Mexican Colonial and Art Deco, drawing their material from the local soil rich with silver ore. The pre-1970 belt buckle, thought by the dealer to be Pineda’s take on the forms of master silversmiths Hector Aguilar Armadillo and Valentín Vidaurreta, measures 3.5 inches in height and is extremely rare. Contact Maestros de Taxco for more information

    Antonio Pineda Belt BuckleUnder the guidance of silver genius William Spratling, Antonio Pineda created a body of work out of his hometown of Taxco that could easily be considered the most impressive volume of Mexican silver pieces in existence. The Taxco School and its silversmiths referenced historical forms from pre-Columbian to Mexican Colonial and Art Deco, drawing their material from the local soil rich with silver ore. The pre-1970 belt buckle, thought by the dealer to be Pineda’s take on the forms of master silversmiths Hector Aguilar Armadillo and Valentín Vidaurreta, measures 3.5 inches in height and is extremely rare. Contact Maestros de Taxco for more information

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  Charles Pollock for Knoll ArmchairsBetter known for his 1965 executive office chair for Knoll, Charles Pollock designed a cutting-edge cast-aluminum-and-black-leather armchair for the company nearly 10 years earlier, in 1956. Habité is offering a pair of the chairs, whose designer worked in George Nelson’s office for a time and also designed chairs for Thonet and Castelli. $5,900 for the pair from  Habité

    Charles Pollock for Knoll ArmchairsBetter known for his 1965 executive office chair for Knoll, Charles Pollock designed a cutting-edge cast-aluminum-and-black-leather armchair for the company nearly 10 years earlier, in 1956. Habité is offering a pair of the chairs, whose designer worked in George Nelson’s office for a time and also designed chairs for Thonet and Castelli. $5,900 for the pair from Habité

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  Milo Baughman Lounge ChairNow seems to be the time to snap up something by Milo Baughman, who created many pieces of furniture for Thayer Coggin, established in 1953 and with whom Baughman worked until his death in 2003. After a stint in the Army Air Force during World War II designing officer’s clubs, Baughman moved to Southern California and attended Chouinard, which would become the California Institute of the Arts. His career was set in motion in the 1960s and ’70s, when he would design a much-anticipated new line for Thayer Coggin to debut at the High Point market each year. Everything on this chair is original, from the thick belting-leather strap arms to the slightly worn caramel-colored leather upholstery. $6,600 from  Converso

    Milo Baughman Lounge ChairNow seems to be the time to snap up something by Milo Baughman, who created many pieces of furniture for Thayer Coggin, established in 1953 and with whom Baughman worked until his death in 2003. After a stint in the Army Air Force during World War II designing officer’s clubs, Baughman moved to Southern California and attended Chouinard, which would become the California Institute of the Arts. His career was set in motion in the 1960s and ’70s, when he would design a much-anticipated new line for Thayer Coggin to debut at the High Point market each year. Everything on this chair is original, from the thick belting-leather strap arms to the slightly worn caramel-colored leather upholstery. $6,600 from Converso

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  Piero Fornasetti PlatesAcquired from the estate of Harold and Mary Lou Patteson Price, who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build the Price Tower in Oklahoma, a dozen 1950s Piero Fornasetti themes and variations added a striking graphic in the designer’s signature black and white to Sputnik Modern’s booth. The plates, each building on the exaggerated deconstruction of the last, came from the Prices' Bartlesville, Oklahoma, home designed by Bruce Goff. Although the dealer was prepared to divide the set up, an interior designer bought all 12 on the show floor for $550 each, along with the complementary Fornasetti coasters. From  Sputnik Modern

    Piero Fornasetti PlatesAcquired from the estate of Harold and Mary Lou Patteson Price, who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build the Price Tower in Oklahoma, a dozen 1950s Piero Fornasetti themes and variations added a striking graphic in the designer’s signature black and white to Sputnik Modern’s booth. The plates, each building on the exaggerated deconstruction of the last, came from the Prices' Bartlesville, Oklahoma, home designed by Bruce Goff. Although the dealer was prepared to divide the set up, an interior designer bought all 12 on the show floor for $550 each, along with the complementary Fornasetti coasters. From Sputnik Modern

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  Joaquim Tenreiro ArmchairsAmong the slew of talented mid-century Brazilian furniture makers, Joaquim Tenreiro had a knack for surprise in his forms, articulating everything from screens to sofas to chairs carved from a single block of wood. With Oscar Niemeyer as a main client, Tenreiro was able to see his work gain recognition before he stopped production in the late 1960s to focus on painting and sculpture, for which he is also known. The circa 1948 white chairs have a black iron frame, a twine back, and loose leather cushions. Contact Adesso for more information

    Joaquim Tenreiro ArmchairsAmong the slew of talented mid-century Brazilian furniture makers, Joaquim Tenreiro had a knack for surprise in his forms, articulating everything from screens to sofas to chairs carved from a single block of wood. With Oscar Niemeyer as a main client, Tenreiro was able to see his work gain recognition before he stopped production in the late 1960s to focus on painting and sculpture, for which he is also known. The circa 1948 white chairs have a black iron frame, a twine back, and loose leather cushions. Contact Adesso for more information

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  Walter Gropius ArmchairsDealer Sam Kaufman has around 60 Walter Gropius armchairs on offer, and brought four festive examples lacquered in purple, yellow, gray, and orange to his pared-down modern booth at the show (other highlights were a Marcel Breuer chaise longue and a collection of mid-century wood pepper grinders artfully displayed on brackets). Gropius designed the chair in 1951, around the end of his teaching career at Harvard and just before he returned to a full-time career as head of The Architect’s Collaborative. Kaufman points out that the chairs, available in the original maple or in a colorful lacquer finish, are extremely comfortable, even for long periods of sitting. Price depends on desired finish and quantity ordered. From  Sam Kaufman Gallery

    Walter Gropius ArmchairsDealer Sam Kaufman has around 60 Walter Gropius armchairs on offer, and brought four festive examples lacquered in purple, yellow, gray, and orange to his pared-down modern booth at the show (other highlights were a Marcel Breuer chaise longue and a collection of mid-century wood pepper grinders artfully displayed on brackets). Gropius designed the chair in 1951, around the end of his teaching career at Harvard and just before he returned to a full-time career as head of The Architect’s Collaborative. Kaufman points out that the chairs, available in the original maple or in a colorful lacquer finish, are extremely comfortable, even for long periods of sitting. Price depends on desired finish and quantity ordered. From Sam Kaufman Gallery

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  Claire Falkenstein SculptureFat Chance dealer Jeff Schuerholz describes this kinetic copper-and-bronze sculpture by California artist Claire Falkenstein (1908–1997) as his most popular item. The piece, which dates to 1963, moves on a ring underneath the sculpture that, when turned, causes all of the little balls go into motion. Falkenstein is best known for her elaborate metal gates made for Peggy Guggenheim’s Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice, Italy, although she worked in ceramics, prints, stained glass, and jewelry. $23,000 from  Fat Chance

    Claire Falkenstein SculptureFat Chance dealer Jeff Schuerholz describes this kinetic copper-and-bronze sculpture by California artist Claire Falkenstein (1908–1997) as his most popular item. The piece, which dates to 1963, moves on a ring underneath the sculpture that, when turned, causes all of the little balls go into motion. Falkenstein is best known for her elaborate metal gates made for Peggy Guggenheim’s Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice, Italy, although she worked in ceramics, prints, stained glass, and jewelry. $23,000 from Fat Chance

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  Monteverdi Young TorchieresDowntown’s large booth at the show was dedicated almost entirely to the work of Monteverdi Young, which, in its 1950s heyday, was defined by what its lead team called “brutal metalwork.” The firm was made up of two California designers, Maurice Bailey and Tom Greene, who in the 1940s started a company called Leathercraft before later changing their moniker. Also specializing in desks and decorative accessories and serving mostly Texas and California, the pair supplied notable designers, including Arthur Elrod, who commissioned John Lautner to build his iconic Palm Springs residence. Their 1960s gilded-metal torchieres rest on tripod feet. $6,600 from Downtown

    Monteverdi Young TorchieresDowntown’s large booth at the show was dedicated almost entirely to the work of Monteverdi Young, which, in its 1950s heyday, was defined by what its lead team called “brutal metalwork.” The firm was made up of two California designers, Maurice Bailey and Tom Greene, who in the 1940s started a company called Leathercraft before later changing their moniker. Also specializing in desks and decorative accessories and serving mostly Texas and California, the pair supplied notable designers, including Arthur Elrod, who commissioned John Lautner to build his iconic Palm Springs residence. Their 1960s gilded-metal torchieres rest on tripod feet. $6,600 from Downtown

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  Yehoshua Kovarsky PaintingPapillon Gallery has recently acquired the rights to represent the estate of Yehoshua Kovarsky (1907–1967), a Lithuanian-born painter who studied in Paris in the 1930s. With the advent of World War II, Kovarsky fled to Palestine, having lost the bulk of his work in the German raids, and eventually began rebuilding his oeuvre in Israel and in the United States, where he discovered abstract expressionism and cubist forms. His work is in collections in the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Pasadena Art Museum, and the Jewish Museum in New York, among others. This piece, Rhapsody in Blue, a signed oil on canvas from the 1950s, clearly represents the stride the artist hit toward the end of his life. “The image is hiding somewhere inside,” he once said of creating art. “You try to fix it and you get closer to what is hiding inside of you.” $12,500 from Papillon Gallery

    Yehoshua Kovarsky PaintingPapillon Gallery has recently acquired the rights to represent the estate of Yehoshua Kovarsky (1907–1967), a Lithuanian-born painter who studied in Paris in the 1930s. With the advent of World War II, Kovarsky fled to Palestine, having lost the bulk of his work in the German raids, and eventually began rebuilding his oeuvre in Israel and in the United States, where he discovered abstract expressionism and cubist forms. His work is in collections in the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Pasadena Art Museum, and the Jewish Museum in New York, among others. This piece, Rhapsody in Blue, a signed oil on canvas from the 1950s, clearly represents the stride the artist hit toward the end of his life. “The image is hiding somewhere inside,” he once said of creating art. “You try to fix it and you get closer to what is hiding inside of you.” $12,500 from Papillon Gallery

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  Don Shoemaker Rocking Chair and OttomanAs heir to the General Foods fortune, Don Shoemaker might have been protected from joining the Army in World War II, yet he chose to serve, and even spent time as a prisoner of war. Once released, Shoemaker relocated to Michoacán, Mexico, and set up a furniture studio, Senal, where he produced wood-and-leather furniture from locally sourced materials. This rosewood-and-black-leather rocking chair and ottoman, probably from the 1970s, includes playful touches like bulbous end notes, engraved hinges, decorated nails holding the leather on the back, and unique rosewood dowels. $5,800 for the set from Sputnik Modern

    Don Shoemaker Rocking Chair and OttomanAs heir to the General Foods fortune, Don Shoemaker might have been protected from joining the Army in World War II, yet he chose to serve, and even spent time as a prisoner of war. Once released, Shoemaker relocated to Michoacán, Mexico, and set up a furniture studio, Senal, where he produced wood-and-leather furniture from locally sourced materials. This rosewood-and-black-leather rocking chair and ottoman, probably from the 1970s, includes playful touches like bulbous end notes, engraved hinges, decorated nails holding the leather on the back, and unique rosewood dowels. $5,800 for the set from Sputnik Modern

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  Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair and OttomanThe aptly named and oft-reproduced Papa Bear chair and ottoman by Hans Wegner is a modernist’s favorite standard, yet is not usually seen with both its original ottoman and upholstery intact. Bits of design whimsy include convenient handles flanking the ottoman for easy relocation, a matching pouch, and teak accents on the ends of the arms, which seem to reach out and beg for company. This chartreuse set screams ’60s Pop, and the fit is neither too big nor too small, but just right. $14,000 from Chez Camille

    Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair and OttomanThe aptly named and oft-reproduced Papa Bear chair and ottoman by Hans Wegner is a modernist’s favorite standard, yet is not usually seen with both its original ottoman and upholstery intact. Bits of design whimsy include convenient handles flanking the ottoman for easy relocation, a matching pouch, and teak accents on the ends of the arms, which seem to reach out and beg for company. This chartreuse set screams ’60s Pop, and the fit is neither too big nor too small, but just right. $14,000 from Chez Camille

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  Jean Gillon Jangada ChairNamed for a Brazilian sailing vessel, the Jangada chair by Jean Gillon has brought in good sums at auction, and is the best-known example of Gillon’s work. Nautical nods in the late-1960s piece include a hammock-like fishnet sling base and floppy leather upholstery reminiscent of bulkhead sleeping quarters. Contact Adesso for more information

    Jean Gillon Jangada ChairNamed for a Brazilian sailing vessel, the Jangada chair by Jean Gillon has brought in good sums at auction, and is the best-known example of Gillon’s work. Nautical nods in the late-1960s piece include a hammock-like fishnet sling base and floppy leather upholstery reminiscent of bulkhead sleeping quarters. Contact Adesso for more information

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