I’ve just returned from visiting several of the antique shows during Antiques Week in NY, where I was pleasantly surprised by the American Antiques Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion (see photo at link below). Having believed for some time that the ability to attract a new generation of collectors lies in adapting more modern merchandising and marketing approaches, I was so impressed by the show management and dealers at this show who wooed their audience with a different voice. Sales were apparently strong, the presentation was unique, unstuffy and fun, and I believe they have tapped into a vein which works with today’s buyer. My personal belief regarding the development of the “new collector” is adapting to their more eclectic nature and adapting to the highly visual marketing world they (and we) live in. The new collector will not likely be purists locked into one look. The appearance of the classic 18th Century New England dining room will likely not appeal to them, as they are more eclectic in their tastes and are not hesitant to mix materials ranging from different periods that work well together. Highly graphic and nostalgic American folk art mixed with French Charles X furniture, an 18th Century French tapestry hung over an industrial dining table accompanied by Chippendale-style chairs, a great Biedermier settee with a piece of contemporary art hung above. The concepts of style, object as art and accessibility within a more modern context will be key to attracting them. Changing presentation does work. Kudos to those at the American Antiques Show!
The mix is eclectic but notably uncluttered, much like the permanent galleries of the American Folk Art Museum, which benefits from the fair’s admission fees and opening-night fund-raiser. And there is a refreshing lack of snobbery in the materials on view and among the more than 40 exhibitors. Show enough interest, and they?ll treat you as if you’d been collecting hooked rugs or anniversary tin for years.
Like some contemporary art fairs, the show has lately been rethinking its layout. Ned Jalbert, a participating dealer who overhauled the map for this year’s fair, did away with traditional aisles in favor of staggered sight lines and more open booths. This might not work at the Armory Show, but here it makes you feel as if you were nosing around a tastefully appointed bed-and-breakfast.
See Made in the U.S.A.: Carved, Hooked and Framed in the New York Times.