Monthly Archives: July 2010

A Look Back – 1986 and Metropolitan Home

So much has changed in the 25 years since Modernism: A Century of Style & Design first opened.  Check out this excerpt from Jesse Kornbluth’s (now the brains behind coverage of the very first Modernism Fair for Metropolitan Home (may it rest in peace).

From Metropolitan Home’s M•E•T•R•O Collecting column, November 1986.

“Sanford Smith was working at his family’s funeral home and taking home $150 every six-day week when he decided to spend one Sunday doing something different.  He gathered some Coca-Cola trays and movie star posters, set absurdly low prices on them, and took them to a New York flea market.  Soon he had $50 and the makings of a pretty good tan.

“That was 21 years ago.  Today, Smith is virtually the dean of antique show promoters.  From his family’s East Village funeral home, he organizes New York’s Fall Antiques Show at the Pier and its prestigious Armory Antiques Show, but his biggest show yet is called “Modernism: A Century of Style and Design,” to be held November 20 to 23 at the 67th Street Armory.  Smith predicts Modernism (Arts & Crafts Movement, De Stijl, Vienna Secession and the Bauhaus) will be the next hot collecting trend…

“…Smith’s kaleidoscopic exhibit includes 5,000 objects, from photographs to furniture, tracing the influence of technology, materials, and manufacturing, on modern style.  ‘This show begins with the revivalist movements of the late 19th century, goes through the English Arts and Crafts movement to Michael Thonet making bentwood furniture on one of the first assembly lines,’ he explains.  ‘Then, in this century, we see the taste for abstraction entering the sensibility and, finally, the blend of industrial design and new materials: plastic, rubber, plywood and tubular steel.’

“Smith advises collectors to watch for machine-made furniture from the 1920s to the 1940s–pieces by Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen; plus Paul Frankl’s skyscraper bookcase and Mies Van der Rohe’s leather chairs.

“A Close second: almost anything from turn-of-the-century Vienna.  ‘Everyone’s discovered it,’ says Smith, whose sale includes chairs by Hoffman and Moser, a wooden stool by Wagner, as well as the Wiener Werkstätte enameled copper tea set.

“Finally, Smith predicts Herman Miller’s furniture from the 1950s will be snapped up.  ‘It’s comfortable, stylish–and it has a designer’s name on it.’

“Overall, expect a big range of prices, from $20 for a deco pin to $500,000 for Frank Lloyd Wright furniture…

“…Of course, Smith’s contribution goes beyond ringleading. ‘I put the “Modernism” logo under the directional reduction lens of my Canon copier,’ Smith reports, ‘and the copier stretched the type.’ The new typeface looks perfectly Modernist–but it could also be called Smith Bold.”

–By: Jesse Kornbluth

Metropolitan Home, 1986


Save the Date for MOD+ART20 2010


November 12 – 15, 2010

The very best of a century in art and design for one weekend at the Park Avenue Armory

DATES:       November 12 – 15, 2010

LOCATION:    The Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street
643 Park Avenue, New York, NY  10065

PREVIEW:    Thursday, November 11 from 6 – 9pm
at the Park Avenue Armory
to benefit The Brooklyn Museum + Planned Parenthood

SHOW HOURS:    Friday, noon – 8pm
Saturday, noon – 7pm
Sunday, noon – 7pm
Monday, 11am – 5pm

CONTACT:    Sanford L. Smith & Associates
212.777.5218 or

NEW YORK, NY — For the second year, Sanford Smith’s decorative arts fair, Modernism, will join with the fine art fair, ART20.  With both events traditionally dedicated to art and design of the 20th century and today, MODERNISM+ART20 is an exceptional showcase of the best of an era.

November 2010 marks the 25th Anniversary of Modernism: Centuries of Style and Design.  In 1986, the fair opened its doors to a line stretching onto Park Avenue in front of the Seventh Regiment Armory where it is still held today. Crowds gathered that year to set eyes on the first fair to ever devote its focus to the major design movements of the 20th century. Now the event serves as an essential touchstone for the market, still drawing a wide audience of enthusiasts, industry professionals, and collectors. Dealers from around the United States and Europe will exhibit and sell museum-quality prototypes and rare pieces of furniture, glass, lighting, silver and other decorative objects in the traditions of Art Deco, Scandinavian, Arts and Crafts, Wiener Werkstätte, Postmodern, and the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. In recent years, examples of rare contemporary design that advance the spirit of Modernism have also made their way to the show floor.

(Antoine Schapira Commode, Courtesy Good Design)

The addition of Sanford Smith’s youngest fair, ART20, proves a perfect pairing.  For nine years, ART20 has provided a sophisticated and intimate venue for top-tier galleries to bring their finest 20th century and Contemporary paintings, sculpture, drawings, and photography to New York in the fall.

The combined fairs also bring together their two preview beneficiaries, The Brooklyn Museum and Planned Parenthood, for one gala on Thursday, November 11 at the Park Avenue Armory from 6pm – 9pm.

Further details about the preview, The Modernsim/Brooklyn Museum Awards Ceremony, special lectures, and exhibitor lists will be announced in the coming months.  Visit <> , follow @SLSFairs on twitter, or connect with us on facebook to receive updates.

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