Top Drawer: New York's NYC20 Fair Courts the Young Collector With Modish Midcentury Designs

NYC20 exhibitor Palumbo Anderssen Modern of New York
(Courtesy Palumbo Anderssen Modern of New York)

NEW YORK— "It’s not a middle-of-the-road show, it is the best of the best," producer Rosemary Krieger promised ARTINFO. She was talking about NYC20, a new fair of high-end vintage objects and furnishings by Dolphin Promotions and, currently making its debut at the tents at Lincoln Center. With a formidable roster of 36 exhibitors, the emphasis here is on blue-chip modern design, keeping up with the younger collector set. It's well worth checking out: The booths resemble "Mad Men"-era living rooms, with flourishes of primary colors standing brightly against the inevitable plywood. A display of ‘60s Pop art minidresses in the Katy Kane Vintage and Couture Clothing booth were right at home.  

Perhaps our favorite stand was that of Hudson-based Mark Mcdonald, which drew us in with the enormous revolving shelf on its left wall. Upon closer inspection, this intriguing display turned out to be a set of sinks fused together with resin to create a single room partition, the latest cutting-edge creation by "upcycling" architects LOT-EK (it was $90,000 for a pair). Although it was built in 2000, the shelf's coat of retro tangerine automobile paint fit in nicely with the rest of the booth's cluster of mid-century furniture: a set of nesting tables by Grete Jalk ($22,000, ca. 1950s) supporting an Isamu Noguchi Radio Nurse (ca. 1940s). The baby room monitor, in the abstract form of a nurse’s face crafted in the wake of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, goes for $8,500. 

To the left of the tent's entrance, L.A.-based Dragonette represented the West Coast in fine style, boasting remnants of old Hollywood and designs that read as quintessentially Californian. A set of four white Hostess chairs by Williams Haines served as the centerpiece, their gleaming white accented by dark lacquered wood ($85,000, ca. 1950), from the Palm Springs estate of film executive Jack Warner (better known as half of the Warner Bros.). Against the wall were a set of ink drawings by director and screenwriter Jean Negulesco, caricatures of anonymous café culture figures who look like celebrities ($15,000-$34,000, ca. 1920s).

White was the overriding color at Los Angeles-based gallery Downtown's centrally-located booth, which conjured the atmosphere of a '60s beach party in Acapulco. All the pieces were culled from Mexico, including the Arturo Pani fiberglass lounge chairs (ca. 1965). They sat beneath the Austrian retro-space-age "Miracle Chandelier" ($34,000, ca. 1960) by crystal producer Bakalowits, which the gallery had scavenged from an old house in Acupulco, presented against the backdrop of a wall-sized close-up of Maria Felix in a straw hat (Felix, an icon of mid-century luxury, was Mexico's own Marilyn Monroe).

A metal screen by Tloupas Philolaos (ca. 1970) was a standout at Sally Rosen 20th Century Collections, set against the booth's back wall. The piece was salvaged from an old financial building in Paris that was gutted of all its functional artwork. It had existed as a set of four; two of these currently belong to Karl Lagerfeld

Finally, towards the back of the fair, there was something very magnetic about the lemon yellow of the Parzinger Originals lacquered cabinet, studded with gold, at the Palumbo Anderssen stand. Its bright sheen was in contrast with the avocado-green, tower-like Tommi Parzinger clock in the nearby corner (ca. 1950), which the American-German designer (1930-1991) constructed around a found clock face. on On one of the desks, there was a seemingly out-of-place industrial necklace of large, pyramid-shaped black beads on display. Gallerist Anka Anderssen wasn't quite sure who designed it or where it came from; nor did she seem too concerned whether it went with the rest of the booth. "Anything gorgeous, I buy it," she told ARTINFO. "Mix 'em together, and it’ll blend."

NYC20 runs through April 15 at the tents at Lincoln Center.