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and objects from the modern era

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Susan Rowland by Appointment

Isamu Noguchi at BBG

Kamilla Talbot: New Works

Chinoiserie Mid-Century Style

Milo Baughman Before + After

Meet Mr. Wormley

townhouse.bz Presents Faux Real

Kipfmueller in Elle Decor

Nelson Sculptures & Prints

Kamilla Talbot: Getting Outside

Joan of Art

To the Pinkneys: A Big Thank You!

Black Tie Halloween?

Problem Solving with Townhouse

Neutra Speaks, Nelson Replies

Falling in Love with Faux Bois

Rowland: Uncontained Forces

Sneak Peek: Rowland Show

Vintage Woodson Wallpapers

Kipfmueller: Process Revealed

Hefty 2-Ply Travels

Oscar Niemeyer, Curvy Modernist

Portrait of Wonder Bread

Peter Shelton, RIP

Take Note: Wondrous Florals

Jud Nelson: Marble Hyperrealism

Faux Forever

After 9/11

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Kool Stools

Salve! Aliquisne domum est?

When is an original not?

Framing Bambi

Welcome to the Knolls

Karl Kipfmueller: Art

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Reasons to Love Horsehair

Separated @ birth?

Q&A:I love the bronze table...

A Tonic for the Election

townhouse.bz in the NY Times!

Those legs, I know those legs!

What is Parchment?

Long look Marion, loonger...

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Archive for the 'What Is…' Category

Susan Rowland continues to contribute to her longtime community, Ft. Greene, Brooklyn…

Learn more about Theater Three Collaborative‘s work and upcoming productions.

Posted by Marla Dekker May 16, 2016 / No Comments Filed Under Susan Rowland, townhouse.bz Art, townhouse.bz chronicles, What Is...

We love this whimsical wallpaper, Feinbergs Horses. It is as witty and similar to the 1950’s pen and ink style that we associate with Ludwig Bemelman’s beloved Madeline illustrations.

The hand silk screened repeat of the wallpaper is very large and the image below only shows a portion of it.

Imagine how wonderful this would look framed and hung on a wall.

Check out our vintage wallpaper for sale.

Posted by Marla Dekker March 14, 2016 / No Comments Filed Under Just Found, Modernism, Vintage Wallpaper, What Is...

A Salon Exhibition Art, Objects and Furniture Exploring the Realm of Mid-Century Modernism

Featuring the townhouse.bz collection including Jud Nelson, Kamilla Talbot Piaget Studios, Kathy Urbina, Le Corbusier, Knoll, Milo Baughman, Pierre Jeanneret, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Aldo Tura, Fornascetti, Edward Wormley.

Opening Saturday, July 26th, 2014
From 6 to 9pm
Showing through September 6th, 2014
Thu & Sun 12 to 6pm
Fri & Sat 12 to 7:30pm
or by appointment

@ Guild Greene Gallery
281 Greene Avenue
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn 11238
718 398 6792

Visit Faux Real and explore historic Clinton Hill. Guild Greene’s building is the original 1890s headquarters and laboratory for Bristol Myers. Fine dining nearby includes Speedy Romeo, Marietta, Locando Vini & Olli and Aita.

Shown above: Holos/Series 23, No.1 (Wood Match) Roman Travertine & Red Slate; Jud Nelson, 1994

Contact Us for more information.

Townhouse.bz presents an exclusive collection of Jud Nelson sculptures and prints, from 1977 to today.

What started it all? Muskrats. They burrowed into an abstract Styrofoam sculpture that Nelson had installed along the edge of a Minneapolis lake. When the chagrined Nelson retrieved the pieces from his irate patron, it was a revelation to see how beautifully the muskrats had carved the Styrofoam to create their burrows. Thus began Nelson’s exploration into hyper-realist sculpture with Styrofoam.

Jud Nelson’s sculpture, Holos/Series 5, No 6 (Tea Bag) is among his earliest hyper-realist sculptures. Carved completely from Styrofoam, including the staple and the string, it is the 6th tea bag of the Holos/Series of tea bags in 1977. (pictured below)

Nelson developed his sculpture series of multiples of everyday objects with minute differences as a lesson in seeing to quote John Russell of the New York Times. Nelson challenges the viewer to examine everyday objects. His cool, minimalist presentation, exquisite attention to detail, and deadpan humor has art critics simultaneously comparing Nelson to Chuck Close, Michelangelo and Sol Lewitt.

The Holos/Series 6 No 6 (Popsicle), 1978, (pictured top) is one of Nelson’s early marble sculptures and marks his switch from Styrofoam to marble as his preferred medium. Nelson realized that marble offered him the granular control he needed to render the finest details. The Popsicle is carved from the same block of Carrara marble statuario as his icnonic sculpture, Hefty 2-Ply, commissioned by the Walker Art Center in 1979.

Nelson’s Still Life Study (Peanuts), 1983, represents the addition of stones of color to his body of work. The life-sized peanut shell is travertine marble and the peanuts are honey-colored marble, both found in rubble outside the San Marco Cathedral, Venice, Italy. Always resourceful in his use of materials, Nelson frequently repurposes discarded stones for his art.

The Block Buster Series (Bear), 1980, is from Nelson’s later exploration of colossal blow-ups of animal crackers. Conceived as a project for the UN’s Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza with Linda Macklowe, the curator of the sculpture garden, a number of animal crackers were sculpted as maquettes for full-size sand-cast bronzes.

Limited Edition, Signed Prints
In addition to Nelson’s sculptures, townhouse.bz and Nelson have collaborated to offer Portrait of Wonder Bread 1, 2 and 3. Limited edition prints of photographs of Nelson’s Carrara statuario marble sculptures HOLOS/Series 7, 1977. Coolly elegant and minimalist with deep, matte blacks and greys on premium, matte paper, the prints feature the breathtaking detail of Nelson’s sculptures. The Portrait of Wonder Bread series is a juxtaposition of the dispassionate study of bread with the imprint of the artist’s hand on each piece of bread.

Never simply Super Realistic, his work always questions the reality of physical existence, and appeals to some alienated modern sense of the existentially absurd… Kim Levin, Arts Magazine, October 1981

Click here to see more of Jud Nelson’s work.
Contact townhouse.bz with inquiries about Jud Nelson’s artwork.

Gazing at this vintage 1950’s George Nelson desk, I am transported to Palm Springs, California with visions of the iconic Kaufmann house that Richard Neutra designed and built in 1946.

Department store magnate, George Kaufmann Sr., asked his son, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, to recommend an architect more modern than Wright to design his Palm Springs, CA estate. Kaufmann Sr. ultimately selected California modernist, Richard Neutra, who built him a masterpiece of modernism.

Neutra’s vision is evident in the design of the building and in his choice of materials: wood, aluminum and lots and lots of glass. The Nelson desk utilizes the same combination of materials in a similar modern context. Just as Neutra incorporates a cantilevered roof supported by light metal columns, Nelson purposes the metal desk legs to support the top of the desk in order to mimic the floating effect Neutra perfected.

Neutra loved wood and employed it in all of his buildings with delicate refinement. Nelson does the same with his wood desk drawers – a simple solution that juxtaposes shape, color and material. Best of all is Nelson’s use of the new material, formica, for the desk top. The smooth, bright formica echoes Neutra’s inspired technique of incorporating shimmering sea shells (capiz) into plaster walls.

Nelson and Neutra – two brilliant originals of American modernist design speaking the language of the era.

Posted by Kevork Babian August 21, 2013 / No Comments Filed Under Just Found, Modernism, What Is...

Do we have Georges Braque to thank for design’s ongoing love affair with faux bois? Take a look at his 1912 seminal papier-collé Fruit Dish and Glass (Compotier et Verre), which was recently gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by famed art collector Ronald Lauder. When Braque decided to paste pieces of mechanically printed faux bois wallpaper on to his still-life drawing, he elevated a traditional decorative trope to the level of fine art and revolutionized art making.

Once faux bois entered the modernist lexicon, it became an essential design element in textiles, garden furniture, ceramics, and more. The best of these efforts merge wood-grain patterning with the wit and intelligence of twentieth-century art. In Townhouse.bz’s collection, there are several fine examples of Grandjean-Jourdan’s faux bois tableware. This father and son team of post-WWII regional artists created their hand-painted pottery in the famed town of Vallauris—the same area where Braque’s friend and sometimes rival Pablo Picasso produced his own prodigious output of painted ceramics. Clearly, Grandjean-Jourdan drew inspiration from the biomorphic explorations of Jean Arp and Constantin Brâncuși.

These side tables attributed to the legendary San Francisco designer John Dickinson verge into the realm of surrealism. The tables are actually made of wood that has been carved in a stylized manner to imitate the imitators! A visual double entendre that we think George Braque and his contemporaries would have loved.

Posted by Marla Dekker June 6, 2013 / No Comments Filed Under Classical Modernism, Faux Bois, In the News, Modernism, What Is...

Portrait of Candy Hearts by Jud Nelson, 1984, carrara marble.

“Hey Jud, is the Charmin bigger?” Not missing a beat, Jud shoots back, “Charmin Ultra – now 10% larger!” Chuck Close laughs out loud. We all join in the laughter while wandering through Jud Nelson’s 1998 show at the Fischbach Gallery. Aside from Chuck Close’s joke, our reaction to Mr. Nelson’s work is complete and utter amazement.

Portrait of Toilet Paper, by Jud Nelson, carrara statuario marble

The Charmin is Mr. Nelson’s portrait of a roll of toilet paper, carved from carrara statuario marble. The sculpting is so masterful that no detail is missing – the texture of the paper, the rolls, the perforations all add up to a breathtakingly hyper-realist sculpture of the most basic of everyday objects. Roberta Smith of the NYTimes describes Jud’s work as “the Faberge of Post-Minimalism”.

Top: Portrait of Wonder Bread, travertine marble; bottom: Cereal Cup, carrara statuario marble and travertine; by Jud Nelson

Other marble hyper-realistic sculptures above: leather gloves seemingly more supple than any produced in Italy, a series of Pies, a series of Milk Bone Biscuits, – the list goes on.

Lifelike, the upcoming realism show at the Walker Art Center will feature Mr. Nelson’s Hefty 2-Ply sculpture carved from carrara statuario.

Walker curator Siri Engberg discusses Hefty 2-Ply in the St. Paul Pioneer Press “It’s a sculpture made in the late ’70s, and it’s completely carved from marble. It follows the techniques and traditions you might see on the drapery on a Bernini. But, of course, it’s the most ordinary object possible. And from a distance, it really does look like a Hefty 2-Ply garbage bag. As we get closer, we see the veining in the marble, the carefully carved folds, and suddenly it becomes something quite precious.”

A bronze cast of the Hefty 2-Ply sculpture, currently in a private collection. Environmental sculpture – whimsical and monumental all at once.

Mr. Nelson’s recent work pushes his concept of hyper-realism by enlarging the scale of small objects – giant Cheerios – large enough for a toddler to sit on or giant animal crackers that initially appear as abstract objects, and yet, no detail is missing.

Notably among many exhibitions and commissions, Jud’s work has exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the United States Capital, Washington, DC.

Are you interested in Jud Nelson’s sculpture?

Jud / Collage, 1982, by Chuck Close
Pulp paper collage on canvas
96 x 72″, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

Posted by Marla Dekker February 9, 2012 / 2 Comments Filed Under In the News, Jud Nelson, townhouse.bz Art, What Is...

Thanks to Tommi Parzinger, I have been thinking about the use of language and how it relates to furniture. A few weeks ago I was called by a potential client to look at his Parzinger Originals furniture and upon my arrival was surprised to see some very shiny new cabinets based upon Tommi’s designs, however, Mr. Parzinger has been dead for 25 years. The following week in the Home section of the New York Times the architect Daniel Wismer refers to a new Parzinger chaise saying “They have the license from Parzinger, so it is a real piece, not a knock off…”. While it might not be a knock off any more than Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel suits are, it is still a reproduction, and it is misleading not to acknowledge that.

The relationship of language, furniture and commerce is an interesting thing and reproduction, knock off, vintage, period, original and antique all have specific meanings. It is completely possible to have a Louis XV chair that is antique but not period as well as a vintage (but not antique) Louis XV chair that is worth more than one that is period (think Maison Jansen). If not buying for investment and your major concern is style, perhaps none of this matters. Nonetheless, it is important for these terms to be understood, especially since it may affect your shopping.

In the meantime I am going to just relax in my Bruno chair (vintage Knoll) with a bottle of wine on my Mies coffee table (vintage Knoll) drinking from a glass (Josef Hoffmann reproduction, Nue Gallerie) gazing into my dining room with its mahogany table (modern Ruhlmann adaptation) surrounded by a mix of French armchairs (vintage) and American Empire side chairs (period) glittering beneath a Venetian green glass chandelier (antique) which lights up the well arted walls (all original) and think about why this use of language is an issue to me.

By the way, if you want to see a vintage Parzinger Originals chaise, just look at the Townhouse website under seating. That is a real piece.

Posted by Karl Kipfmueller March 14, 2011 / 1 Comments Filed Under In the News, Karl Kipfmueller, Modernism, Parzinger, What Is...

Bambi by Aleksander Duravcevic

In the distant past I acquired a large charcoal drawing by Aleksander Duravcevic (affectionately referred to as Sasha). Although I am sure it has an impossibly formal title, we have always called it the “Bambi Drawing”. Much like the amazing George Stubbs painting of the horse in the National Gallery in London, it reads as both a huge formal portrait as well as an exquisite drawing of an animal. I find it impossibly beautiful. It is also ridiculously fragile. It was always intended for the dining room that did not yet exist but had been taking shape in our minds for years. Suddenly the room was ready and Bambi was still temporarily hanging from clips from the picture rail in our living room, looking vulnerable and aloof.

Bambi’s frame, left as it arrived from the cabinet maker and right after being painted in casein.

Our house was built in 1864 and although we have no interest in living in a period house we still maintain a pretty formal aesthetic. The completed dining room walls are painted an intense deep red (Farrow and Ball Etruscan Red), the furniture is the combination of a dark wood table, a sideboard and white painted French armchairs (none of which match). The artwork is all black and white. The color comes from the space itself. In addition to the red walls, the cornice is a mossy green and the ceiling is an anything but subtle blue. The art that was already in place ranges from contemporary white ceramic wall pieces to vintage and contemporary photography, drawings and prints including a drawing by my then 5 year old nephew of a raccoon that hangs in a Louis XV wooden frame from the fifties, a period Victorian gilt frame on an Alma Tadema engraving and simple black frames on much of the photography. We wanted the room to have the feel of a 19th century hanging, no small feat with this eclectic grouping, so figuring out what to do with a huge (over 6×4 foot) contemporary drawing was an issue.

Sasha’s drawings are usually shown in simple wood gallery frames, which are beautiful on white walls but would look harsh in this space. We also decided that we did not want to use plexiglass or glass over the piece. While we understand the importance of protecting the surface we felt that in a childless domestic interior we would risk it to preserve the velvety appearance of the drawing. The frame also had to be deep enough to protect it from casual traffic and the occasional wild party.

Top left – drawing the stencils, top right – placement of the stencil, bottom left – applying gold leaf, bottom right – securing the gold leaf.

I have always loved Italian art and their frames. I especially like old cassetta style frames which are flat panels with raised inner and outer mouldings. I know a young, eager and very talented cabinet maker who would love to build something besides another high end kitchen or wall unit and who was up to the challenge. I went through books, walked through the Met, took measurements and did drawings and sent the cabinet maker away to build the frame. When he delivered it a few weeks later and I saw how big it was that I thought what in Bambi’s name have I done? There was no turning back. I knew it was to be black so I painted it in casein which mimics the flat fresco like look of old painted frames and I decided to gild the corners and central medallions to both lighten it visually and also to reflect light in the evening when lights are low during meals. The gilding was left rather crude to prevent it from appearing harsh and graphic, this was not for a lobby in a Trump building or a McMansion great room. The back panel of the frame is covered in linen which has been painted flat black. The edges of the drawing are exposed and white so Bambi floats within the frame. It has been mounted with aluminum push pins, a nod to its contemporary status.

The final result is quite amazing.

This huge drawing in this massive frame seems quite at home on the red walls in this frighteningly mature room. It creates a window that feels like you are looking through to a vista with a fawn standing in it. While it dominates the wall, it does not over power the room. I am looking forward to serving venison this fall while Bambi looks on in silent horror.

Artist: Aleksander Duravcevic 917-363-0002
Cabinetmaker: Christian Galesi 646-541-8547
Finishing: Grand Avenue Workshop 718-789-3306

Reference Books
Italian Renaissance Frames
Timothy J Newbery et. al
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1990

Frames in the Robert Lehman Collection
Timothy J Newbery
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Princeton University Press, 2007

Lowy: The Secret Lives of Frames
Deborah Davis
Filipacchi Publishing, 2007

The Art of the Picture Frame
Jacob Somon
National Portrait Gallery Publications, London, 1996

The Gilded Edge
Eli Wilner
Chronicle Books, 2000

Posted by Karl Kipfmueller March 6, 2011 / 3 Comments Filed Under Karl Kipfmueller, townhouse.bz chronicles, What Is...

A detail from Beth Katleman’s Folly, at the Jane Hartsook Gallery through February 17, 2011, Greenwich House Pottery, 16 Jones Street, 2nd flr, NY, NY.

Beth Katleman has done one of my favorite things. She created the ultimate visual pun by recreating a classic wallpaper pattern in porcelain and injecting mischievious figures into the pastoral scenes. And it is simply beautiful.

Folly works on many levels. The full installation just begs the viewer to step in closer and appreciate the abundant, witty details.

An example of traditional Toile de Jouy, a wallpaper pattern that originated in France in the late 18th century and features repetitive bucolic scenes, has seen a resurgence in popularity lately. Beth Katleman has created her own peculiar spin on it with her show, Folly.

Posted by Marla Dekker February 4, 2011 / 2 Comments Filed Under In the News, What Is...

Townhouse is designed, written and produced by Dekker Babian. Townhouse is located in Brooklyn, NY. All text and photos © 2019.