Welcome to New York: The Trust (and Tradition) Returns

Mar 1, 2023

In January 2023, the Trust joined peers, partners, and antiques purveyors for Americana Week, the country’s premier antiques and arts showcase. Last year’s postponement of The Winter Show reconfigured the Trust’s plans in 2022, yet 2023 provided a safe and welcome return to the beloved New York celebration of art, design, and antiques. 

Trust members and staff savored sumptuous British treasures, select aesthetic splendors, and a celebration of South Carolinian Black potters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We enjoyed curator-led tours of Parisian design, data visualizations in dialogue with decorative art from the 1900 World’s Fair, and 18th-century British ornament at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. A weekend of highlights at the Park Avenue Armory included private tours of The Winter Show, an academic showcase of emerging scholars at the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Colloquium, and a discussion of Scandinavian design with Trust Governor Monica Obniski.

Amidst this backdrop of bustling activity, the Trust’s return to the Big Apple proved yet another welcome reunion among friends and aficionados to inaugurate a full year of 2023 Trust programming.

Friday, January 20: New York’s Museum Mile

Visiting ​​two of 5th Avenue’s most iconic museums, Trust members enjoyed curator-led tours at The Met and Cooper Hewitt. Iris Moon, The Met’s Assistant Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, guided audiences among tables, tapestries, and teapots within recently reinstalled British galleries, discussing 400 years of trade, travel, colonialism, and design influence. Contrasted with Anglo-Saxon opulence was Adrienne Spinozzi’s tour through Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina. Spinozzi, The Met’s Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts, organized the groundbreaking exhibition in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Comprising new scholarship and perspectives on 19th-century South Carolinian stoneware production, Hear Me Now displays 50 ceramic objects from the Edgefield District, known for its prolific artisan communities among the enslaved. Utility jars ranging from handheld to barrel-sized stand alongside enigmatic face vessels.

Heading to Andrew Carnegie’s famed Manhattan mansion, afternoon exhibition tours at the Cooper Hewitt complemented the morning’s itinerary. Caitlin Condell, Head of Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design, led groups on a fanciful foray among the collection’s Michel Angelo Pergolesi (1760–1801) design prints and illustrations. The Italian tastemaker popularized Neoclassical ornamentation and decorative style in 18th-century Britain, influencing Robert Adam in the process, and Pergolesi’s motifs recalled the morning’s gaze through the British galleries.

On the mansion’s second floor, audiences explored how design can serve as a vehicle to explain, expel, and exhibit the realities and myths surrounding race, equity, and opportunity. Curated by Devon Zimmerman, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair utilizes diagrammatic ephemera to illustrate the success of Black Americans, produced by Du Bois (1868–1963) and his Atlanta University students on display during the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. While Hear Me Now showcased objects of industrial slavery—both vessels of utility and works of art produced under coercion—Du Bois’s illustrations broadside Black progress at the dawn of Jim Crow.

Tours concluded with a touch of modernism, examining the work and legacy of French architect and designer Hector Guimard (1867–1942) alongside Trust Governor and the exhibition’s curator, Yao-Fen You. In How Paris Got Its Curves, the serpentine stylings of France’s best-known Art Nouveau architect wrap around the gallery through extensive object and illustration displays. From perfume bottles and side chairs to villa floor plans and Parisian Metro entryways, Trust members enjoyed a sweeping survey of le style Guimard.

Saturday, January 21: The Winter Show and the Wigmore Galleries

The Trust’s return to the 69th edition of The Winter Show began with premier access to the fair’s exhibitors and their booths of treasures. The early access permitted a close examination of paintings, ceramics, fine art, jewelry, furniture, and glass narrated by experts and dealers, a weekend highlight among members. Over lunch, attendees enjoyed a conversation between Suzanne Tucker, Interior Designer, and Mitch Owens, American Editor of World of Interiors in the Armory’s stunning—and scrupulously restored—Gilded Age Board of Officers Room.

Our luncheon setting paired well with private afternoon tours of the Wigmore Gallery at The Met, showcasing superlative decorative arts and paintings from the late-19th-century American Aesthetic movement. Gifted to The Met at its sesquicentennial in 2020 by Barrie and Deedee Wigmore, the American Wing’s collection is a breathtaking survey of Gilded Age craft and production. Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, The Met’s Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts, guided groups among the spectacular selection, which the Wigmores thoughtfully and meticulously assembled over four decades.

In complement to the collection’s Tiffany & Co. offerings, Frelinghuysen delighted Trust audiences with a behind-the-scenes look at the c. 1923 Autumn Landscape window on view in Charles Engelhard Court. The soaring Gothic stained-glass installation portrays late-afternoon sun amidst dazzling fall foliage, a glorious autumnal palette achieved not with paint but textured and layered glass. In order to appreciate the landscape’s captivating production, Frelinghuysen invited Trust members inside the window’s light well to appreciate the up-close perspective on the drapery glass and the intricate layering production that is a signature of Tiffany Studios.

A dazzling (and mild!) New York weekend paired well with the Trust’s 7th Annual Emerging Scholars Colloquium on Sunday, January 22nd held at the Park Avenue Armory. Many Trust Members and peers enjoyed a range of research topics, from an examination of craft at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Smith House to the emergence of handheld scissors as stylized luxury within the modern world. The morning remarks and presentations were followed by a collegial brunch fundraiser in support of the Emerging Scholars Colloquium.

The weekend’s focus on craftsmanship, collecting, and camaraderie is indicative of Trust programming and will be featured stateside and abroad in an impressive lineup of 2023 study trips, symposia, sojourns, and special programs

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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