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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful
Lunchtime with a Curator: Decorative Arts Design Series

3-Session Daytime Series

Monday, September 27, October 4 and 18, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Quick Tix Code: 1K0168
$45 Package Member
$55 Package Non-Member
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Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.

Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.

SEPT 27  Collectors and Their Collections
Insights for the 21st-Century Collector of Decorative Arts

When Lorenzo de Medici died in 1492, he had assembled a vast collection of paintings, books, textiles, precious metals, and hardstone. His collection became an example of Renaissance material culture and evidence of what wealth, knowledge, culture, and power looked like during the period.

Today we have ever more access to information and to competition. In the face of this global purchasing power, we are challenged to reconsider what drives the pursuit of collecting and our roles as collectors. What do our collections tell us about our time and values—and ourselves? How are collections used today to leverage power? And how does the rearrangement of a collection change its message? Join Elizabeth Rochette and Lay in conversation as they examine this complex and fascinating topic.

Rochette is the co-founder of Arte-Case, a design sourcing company in Paris. She was a European furniture specialist at Christie’s New York and an assistant curator at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She is currently an adjunct faculty member in the GW Corcoran Smithsonian M.A. program in decorative arts and design history and in the Parsons Paris M.A. program in the history of design and curatorial studies.

OCT 4   Mid-century Modern Furniture Connoisseurship
How To Spot the Knock-offs

The appeal of mid-century modern design is on the rise as buyers embrace designs by Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen among others. You can browse online and find every mid-century modern furniture classic knocked off and sold for a tenth of the price of the real thing.  The differences are subtle, but if you put the original side by side with the reproductions the differences are clear. Furniture scholar Oscar P. Fitzgerald joins Lay to examine a selection of Knoll, Herman Miller, and Scandinavian modern furniture classics and reveals how to evaluate the authenticity of such examples. He demonstrates what to look for in the construction and fittings hidden under chair seats and inside case pieces to identify the real thing from a modern copy.

Fitzgerald retired as director of the U.S. Navy Museum and curator of Tingey House in Washington, D.C., to pursue fulltime his passion for the history of American furniture. His publications include a catalog of the nationally known Smithsonian Renwick Gallery studio furniture

OCT 18  Acquisition: 20th Century Decorative Arts at Auction

After delving into the culture of collecting and how to identify authentic modern designs from copies, get ready put your new knowledge into action with a look at auctions. Lay welcomes Richard Wright, CEO of one of the most innovative auction houses specializing in modern and contemporary art and design, as he shares some true insider’s advice. He discusses his passion for modern design, how he made his way into the auction business, and how he conceived the Wright auction house in Chicago, which opened in 2000. From there he covers how the shift in the archetype of collecting has changed the marketplace for objects, and the impact of digital auctions on a global audience.

He also also considers the role of the auction house from both the buyer’s and seller’s perspectives. How do you gauge the rhythm of an auction, and what are the best strategies for bidding? Join Wright and Lay for the answers to these and more questions.

Wright has more than 30 years of experience in handling and documenting 20th-century works and has published several books and monographs and more than 100 auction catalogs on the subject.

3 sessions

Photo caption (upper right): Top: FENDI's Roman Molds collection by Kueng Caputo (Photo: DesignBoom) Bottom: Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen 1948 (Photo: Knoll Internationa)

Patron Information

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.