Art and architecture: working with art in residential design with Edward Ira Schachner, Architect
GREAT COLLECTORS ARE OFTEN WELL-KNOWN AND HIGHLY RESPECTED CONNOISSEURS OF A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF ART. WHETHER THE FOCUS IS THE VITALITY OF THE AMERICAN SPIRIT AS IN THE MODERNIST COLLECTION FORMED BY DUNCAN PHILLIPS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.; THE IMPECCABLE DISCERNMENT OF TASTE AND QUALITY THAT EPITOMIZES DAVID GEFFEN’S CONTEMPORARY COLLECTION AT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN LOS ANGELES; OR THE HISTORICAL RESONANCE OF THE MANUSCRIPTS, OLD MASTER DRAWINGS AND PRINTS ASSEMBLED AS EARLY AS 1890 BY FINANCIER PIERPONT MORGAN AT THE MORGAN LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, NEW YORK, THE CRITERIA OF THESE COLLECTIONS IS WORKS OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY, PROVENANCE AND SIGNIFICANCE IN THE BODY OF THE ARTIST’S WORK.
VERY FEW COLLECTORS HAVE EITHER THE FINANCIAL WHEREWITHAL OR CURATORIAL EXPERTISE TO ESTABLISH PRIVATE COLLECTIONS, NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, ON THIS LEVEL BUT, ON AN INTERNATIONAL BASIS, MANY IMPASSIONED BUYERS OF ART HAVE BECOME INCREASINGLY ABSORBED IN LEARNING ABOUT, COMPARING, EVALUATING AND ACQUIRING A BODY OF WORK THAT CONTRIBUTES TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF A PERIOD, A MEDIUM SUCH AS VIDEO OR PHOTOGRAPHY, OR A CONCEPTUAL AESTHETIC. WHETHER AN INDIVIDUAL’S COLLECTING IS SERIOUS OR MORE SPONTANEOUS, MOST PEOPLE ENJOY LIVING WITH THEIR ACQUISITIONS AND MOST RESIDENTIAL DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS CONSIDER A CLIENT’S EXISTING COLLECTION OR ENCOURAGE A FORAY INTO THE WORLD OF ART COLLECTING TO ENHANCE THE DESIGN ENVIRONMENT.
EDWARD IRA SCHACHNER HAS THE NATURE OF BOTH A PASSIONATE COLLECTOR WHO RESPONDS STRONGLY TO WORKS OF ART OF MANY PERIODS AND A PROFESSIONAL HISTORY THAT HAS AFFORDED A VISUAL AND INTELLECTUAL FAMILIARITY WITH WORKS OF THE MOST IMPECCABLE QUALITY AND PROVENANCE.
IRA, WELCOME BACK! IN RETROSPECT, WHAT ARE THE MOST MEMORABLE PRIVATE COLLECTIONS THAT YOU HAVE EITHER ESTABLISHED OR SEEN, AND WHY?
It was great to start the collection for a young investment manager that we worked on together. It was such a lesson in letting the best ‘show itself’ since we were working, in this case, with a client that had almost no experience with art collecting yet was very willing to be educated and turned out to have a great appreciation for good art and an increasing sophistication in his choices over time. More recently, I have been working with a couple who are both avid collectors of photography and ceramics so it’s been a lot of fun for me to see a lot of amazing contemporary work of the first quality and to literally design rooms around them. It’s a challenge for sure but I feel as though I learned the ropes from the master.
DO YOU ADVISE CLIENTS IN TERMS OF THE SELECTION OF ART AS WELL AS ANTIQUES AND, IF SO, WHAT PROMPTS YOU TO GRAVITATE TO A PARTICULAR PERIOD, MEDIUM OR STYLE?
I do advise clients in the selection of both antiques and art. I prefer no specific period and really believe that the best quality of either is worth appreciating and showcasing, which is the challenge. How best to showcase. My strategy when working with a client is to try my best to learn more about the specific tastes of the client. I am an architect first so the line of any object is going to draw me in most of all. I love drawings and collect landscape paintings myself but ‘context’ is probably the strongest determinant.
I KNOW THAT YOU ARE VERY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT WORKS BY THE AMERICAN MODERNISTS SUCH AS MARSDEN HARTLEY AND OSKAR BLUEMNER? IS THAT YOUR FAVORITE PERIOD OF ART AND, IF SO, WHY?
These works are just so dynamic! Bluemner’s work especially appeals to me because he was firstly an architect and the way he portrays buildings in the landscape is just so pure. I have to admit that I am also a sucker for the Hudson Valley school but who isn’t. It’s so romantic!
I DID, ON THE OTHER HAND, ATTEND A LECTURE WITH YOU AT THE WHITNEY ON JEFF KOONS AND I WAS SURPRISED AND PLEASED TO SEE YOUR ENGAGEMENT WITH THOSE WORKS AND ENTHUSIASM FOR THE SHOW.
I loved his Celebration pieces! It was an excellent show and I really got a much better and more complete sense of his art and motivations that I had ever had before. He is very much a thinking artist and there appears to be a progression in his work that I can appreciate now.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE YOUR PERSONAL AESTHETIC CRITERIA – IS IT A QUALITATIVE JUDGMENT OR SPECIFIC TO CERTAIN PERIODS OF WORK OR MEDIUMS? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST AND WHY?
I like too much! I have a tremendous appreciation for ‘craft’ so I am drawn to a lot of things that are simply ‘beautiful’ as specific objects. That can be anything from a Georg Jensen silver vase to an over-the-top Tiffany chandelier. The newly renovated rooms at the Park Avenue Armory are a treat to behold. We don’t seem to be able to do work like that anymore.
WHEN DID YOU ESTABLISH YOUR OWN FIRM AND WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO SO?
I opened shop in 1991. I had just finished working on two very large residences with Thierry Despont and I realized that I had all the tools to be able to do this work now myself. It was the end of the recession. I was expecting my second child and it seemed like a good time to do this.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROJECTS THAT WERE THE MOST CHALLENGING AND COMPELLING?
I worked on a very detailed ‘French Modern’ apartment in Tel Aviv for an art collector that all had to be completed and packed up into shipping containers for a ‘instant’ installation in one week! It was amazing. Having a client that is not with you in your vision for them is also a challenge and a responsibility. I am relentless in trying to get through with my ideas and won’t stop pushing and pulling until I know that we are all on the same page.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, IRA WILL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF RESIDENTIAL DESIGN.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US!