What do you do with an old empty building?
The New York Marlborough Gallery and French antiques gallery Steinitz came together to work on a temporary installation at the former New York Mercantile Exchange.
The building has been used for storage for more than ten years. Now it was time to open up its doors and invite people in.
From Marlborough and Steinitz we only expect big names. Thierry W. Despont, renowned artist and designer (responsable for the centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty) created a space in a space. Fine old boiserie panels from France and Belgium were brought in to create the perfect backdrop for a “cabinet de curiosités”.
Despont used his own paintings of imaginary planets and fantastic insectlike creatures made of old handtools. He also introduced spectacular sculptures of Spanish artist Manolo Valdés: wooden horses or figures that clearly refer to the paintings of the old masters. And paintings of the Chilean Claudio Bravo who passed away last year: trompe l’oeil representations of crumpled paper or the backside of canvases.
The space evokes the intimacy of old European houses. Most of the colors are natural, the materials only noble. As soon as you enter, the tone is set: this is a place of richness and splendor. But in spite of the fact that everything here is original, I could not suppress the thought that something was unreal about this place. Yes, in the sense of fake. That is of course because of the fact that those fine boiserie panels where ripped out of their original homes. As a European myself, I always feel a little bit sad about this. I had the same feeling in the original style period interiors at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles (interiors for which also Despont was responsable).
But then again I don’t know the complete story and it might very well be that, without people like Despont, those panels would have been lost forever.
Le Cabinet de Curiosités takes you to a place of fantasy, a world where old and new (art) is brought together in a perfect blend of style, color and material. I can only wait for more projects to be mounted here.