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Chic at Sotheby’s

by habituallychic

09 . 25 . 07

We buy a lot of things from auctions for our clients so I’m often perusing the catalogs. Even if you don’t buy anything, I think they are a great resource for design ideas and a reference for custom pieces. There’s a great photo of Kelly Wearstler from her book Domicilium Decoratus of her lying around reading auction catalogs. I get the feeling she’s a serious buyer.

Anyway, the point of my post is that while flipping through the 20th Century Decorative Arts Selected by Gordon Watson sale catalog for the Sotheby’s auction tomorrow in London, I came across the screen above designed by Robert Crowder. I’m more of a modern kind of girl but for some reason I really love this screen and technically, it is modern since it was made in the 1960’s. The description from the catalog is pretty interesting too.

“Crowder, an American, first visited Japan in 1934. The trip began a lifelong love affair with the country and its art. His training with the great painters Shunko Mochizuki and Shimamoto-sensei served him well after his repatriation to the United States in 1943. After a brief stay in Chicago, Crowder moved west, opening a gallery in Los Angeles in the neighbourhood of Greta Garbo and other Hollywood legends. He quickly became famous for his screens and fabulous textiles, which as recently as 2005 were ordered for an international redecoration of the Chanel boutiques.”

In a continuation of the story, the expansion and redesign of the Chanel boutique by Peter Marino won an AIA Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture in 2005. The only photos I can find are very modern so I have no idea what they did with the screens and textiles mentioned in the catalog but I still think it’s interesting. So the moral of this story is, check out an auction catalog, you never know what you might find!

Comments Closed

  1. Alice Olive September 25, 2007 | 9:23 pm

    This is interesting to know. The design is very delicate and somehow soothing.

    And yes, makes me curious to know the approach was incorporated into the Chanel boutique!

  2. Mark Cutler September 26, 2007 | 1:13 am

    I too love to peruse the auction catalogues. There are so many levels of auctions that the inexperienced can start buying almost immediately and graduate up to the thrill of purchasing from Christie’s of Sotheby’s. Happy reading!

  3. Things That Inspire September 26, 2007 | 1:31 am

    This is a beautiful piece of art. I have been seeing branches in decor and art for some time now…trees and branches are so sculptural when you really look at them.

  4. Suzy September 26, 2007 | 1:48 am

    Good advice, I have been meaning to do that, but I definitely will be now! And I had no idea of the history of Robert Crowders’ company, I read somewhere that Kelly Wearstler loves his wallpapers…

  5. stljoie September 26, 2007 | 2:48 am

    I have a beautiful Japanese screen with white flowering branches that this is very close to. I found it in a consignment shop. I, too, love auction catalogs…also the pre sale showings.

  6. Lisa Nichols September 26, 2007 | 10:40 am

    Really enjoy how you provide historical context for your current interests. I always come away with both new sources and rich thoughts to contemplate. With your Robert Crowder entry, I see an authentic example of the always fascinating “West views East” sensibility captured in a true Chinoiserie. I love any kind of design that is marked by its time but remains relevant and therefore timeless, no easy trick.

  7. Brilliant Asylum September 26, 2007 | 1:56 pm

    One of my jobs at Sotheby’s included a brief stint at the catalog desk. I cherish all of the catalogs I kept from those days. People were always complaining about having to “buy” an auction catalog, but they are actually a pretty good value compared to other design reference books.

  8. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:19 pm

    Alice Olive, it is so lovely and soothing. I think it would be perfect in a bedroom.

  9. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:21 pm

    Mark, great point! I think I might have to write another post about all the smaller and inviting auction houses where people might feel comfortsble starting out. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:23 pm

    Things that Inspire, I often consider things other than actual painting art. It’s clear that the man who created this screen was a true artist!

  11. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:25 pm

    Suzy, I had never heard of Robert Cowder before so I’m so glad I picked up that catalog. I love learning something new everyday. I know you’ll enjoy them too once you start checking them out!

  12. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:27 pm

    stljolie, You are verylucky to have found your own beautiful screen!

  13. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:30 pm

    Lisa, I really love learning new things and my blog has finally given me a place to share exciting new things with people who might also love to learn something new. I’m so glad you enjoy it!

  14. Habitually Chic September 26, 2007 | 2:32 pm

    BA, I didn’t know you worked at Sotheby’s! How fun! I got to be a part of a sale last fall and I know that A LOT of work goes into creating those sale catalogs. The photography is amazing and it takes a lot of people to put them together. I don’t blame them for charging!

  15. Mélanie September 27, 2007 | 2:30 pm

    This screen looks modern but it does look also art nouveau which was a naturalist and modern way of life .Actually it is just timeless. it looks terrific . great piece

  16. Suzy October 4, 2007 | 12:51 am

    Hi – just thought I’d let you know I purchased my first Sotheby’s auction catalog (on your advice), and even though I cannot afford a single thing in it, its still good drooling material. Thanks!