American Modernism : Modern Americana

Paul Evans + more .

WRIGHT'S Annual No Reserve Auction
previews begin July 5

Paul Evans Cityscape bookshelf Paul Evans Studio for Directional USA, c. 1975
Paul Evans table base Paul Evans Studio USA, c. 1970,

Wright’s spring 2011 auction season comes to a close with their annual MASS MODERN auction on July 9th. This no reserve sale features nearly 500 lots of modern design. From Tank lounge chairs by Alvar Aalto, to Ball wall clocks by George Nelson & Associates, to a Giada decanter by Toni Zuccheri.

Chrome-plated steel, brass, and glass, oh dear me ! These works of Paul Evans capture my full attention as I sit, typing, imagining them in dark wall to wall carpet rooms, deep conversations pits perhaps below old dusty disco balls. Stacked records out of their sleeves, water rings marks, half parted curtains that look onto a New York 5 am sunrise. The sounds of bankers and brokers scurrying to their desks and joggers taking the first leaps of the early morning. Perhaps this is the time of day these works came most alive? The sun beginning to glisten the materials of these shelves. American Modernism. Modern Americana.

What did it feel like to be in truly MODERN in 1970 in Manhattan?

I recently purchased the book, Modern Americana: Studio Furniture From High Craft to High Glam by Todd Merrill and Julie Iovine, by Rizzoli. I've flipped through it in bookstores, but finally made the plunge. I've been looking for a book on these works specifically, or an interview with Paul Evans about this pieces. (Please pass on if you have one.)

Buck's Magazine 2008 states: " The Sculpted Bronze tables beloved by Manhattanites had tops of glass, slate or, occasionally, wood and radically shaped bases: cubes, arches, serpentines, stalagmites. He made tables in copper, bronze, pewter and the welded aluminum called argente and tables with bases designed to resemble skyscrapers. All challenged conventional notions of furniture design – and continue to do so, even today."

"In 1981 Evans opened his own showroom in New York City, stocked with prototypes and some motorized furniture. He got a substantial order from a Saudi Arabian princess, but the Plumsteadville factory kept him in debt, and in 1987 he retired. He was 56 years old and headed with his wife to Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he had a heart attack and died. A market for his work developed immediately, and since 2005 it has been in high gear. Fakes and copies were made.

Iovine says Evans's work anticipated the limited-edition furniture of today. Phillip Powell, with whom Evans shared a studio in New Hope, never wanted to make production furniture or make deadlines. " (taken from Merrill Antiques here)