Monday, January 5, 2009

Great Objects of Mystery and Design

(Above) African American stone carving: 19th century, Georgia, 10.5 inches tall
(Above) Corn Grinders: convex and concave wood forms with forged iron teeth, 22 inches tall
(Above, left) Forged iron eel spear, 15 inches tall; Right: Bootjack with holes, c. 1900’s 15 inches tall
(Above) Early granite bust with sundial on chest with knotted rope and leaves; Believed to be English origin and possibly set along the coast to time the tides with the sundial. Note the carved “woven” cap. 21 inches tall.
(Above) Three cast iron objects as art: Left to right - (1) a cast iron bog shoe from Wisconsin; (2) a cast iron plow blade (3) cast iron railroad plate.

Aarne Anton of American Primitive Gallery in New York, has always had that rare ability to recognize an object with strong design, no matter what it used to be—and recontextualize that object for a new, discerning audience. (See the corn grinders, eel spear, boot jack and cast iron objects above).

To that point, I once saw an antique dealer arrange 20+ old rusty bed springs on the white wall of her gallery booth. The installation was so simple—and so beautiful. Lit from above, the curved cast shadows made for an incredible sight. I knew that, individually, those bed springs were worth about 25 cents apiece (or the time it would take to separate them from the mattress fabrication), but as they were presented that evening—I was looking at modern art. Price was not the issue. What I saw that evening was akin to haute couture in fashion. It takes courage to stand behind such a creative act, and in doing so, eyes are opened a bit further.

Aarne Anton will once again be exhibiting at the Outsider Art Fair (as he has every year for the past 16 past years). Not only does he exhibit work by self-taught artists, but he shows the highest quality folk art and objects. And, over the years Aarne has curated some memorable thematic shows at his gallery. His career is an art book waiting to happen. Be sure and check him out if you are ever in NYC. His gallery is located at 594 Broadway, Suite 205, in Soho. The gallery phone number is 212.966.1530. His email address is:

1 comment:

Candler Arts said...

Those are great things. I love how utilitarian objects can become sculpture as good as most of what's out there.

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