1/12/2017

A Look at the Growing Market of Furniture Designer Paul Evans


The NY Times takes a look at furniture designer Paul Evans and the growth of interest in his work, as well as the expanding prices. Or as the article states, from the"dustbin to the deified". The article shows how decorative arts styles and tastes can change over time. This is of course so important for the professional personal property appraiser.  Appraisers must always stay in touch with the market place, trends and changes in taste.

It is a pretty long article, so I only posted the first portions of it, for the full article in the NY Times follow the source link below.

The NY Times reports
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the furniture designer Paul Evans’s posthumous ascent is not that he has gone from dustbin to deified over the last decade, or that his work has been collected by big names like Gwen Stefani, Lenny Kravitz and Tommy Hilfiger.

It is that his signature pieces — 1960s credenzas that look as if they are encrusted with barnacles — have been met with turned-up noses and occasional disgust from the most powerful people in the design world.

J. F. Chen and Wyeth, arguably the country’s two leading galleries for midcentury modern design, have practically made a point of ignoring Mr. Evans, even as his offbeat works break auction records.

“I have two Evans pieces in my showroom, and neither of them look like Evans,” said Mr. Chen, speaking from his office in Los Angeles. “It’s not my thing.”

Never mind that a wavy-front cabinet designed by Mr. Evans in 1967 sold for $287,500 in 2015, moving into the upper echelons of American furniture. “And who would have seen that coming?” said David Rago, who sold it through his auction house, Rago Arts.

Not Richard Wright, who eight months later beat that number when he sold one of Mr. Evans’s silver aluminum and black paint cabinet pieces with dripping squiggle-like seams through his company, Wright, in Chicago for $293,000.

Three coffee table books focusing on Mr. Evans have been published in the last decade, including one by the New York-based dealer Todd Merrill, whose TriBeCa-based showroom teems with Mr. Evans’s chrome case pieces and steel coffee tables that look as if they were built from stalagmites. Two mini-documentaries about Mr. Evans’s life, one produced by Mr. Merrill and another by the design journalist Daniella Ohad, have been completed. In 2014, the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., staged a retrospective of Mr. Evans’s work.

But having designed mirrored sofas with a Mondrian-by-way-of-Liberace vibe, Mr. Evans simply can’t be explained in the same breath as Hans Wegner, whose teak coffee tables and wool-covered Papa Bear chairs serve as Modernist shorthand for all that is ordinarily admired about midcentury design and its imperviousness to the cool-today, tired-tomorrow quality of decorating trends such as overdyed Persian rugs and fiddle-leaf fig trees.

“I’ve seen interiors that are all Paul Evans; it’s not really where you want to go,” Mr. Wright said on a recent afternoon, as he planned an auction for 37 of Mr. Evans’s most gloriously tacky, gloriously disco pieces, which takes place Thursday in Chicago.

In all likelihood, it will do very well for him.

Amid a status-obsessed, contemporary art scene where the kitschy ironic and the easily identifiable are prime selling points for artists (see: Richard Prince and Andy Warhol), it makes some sense that the man who is becoming the most collectible American furniture designer of the late 20th century is also considered by many to be the least deserving of that designation.

A furniture-world Forrest Gump, Mr. Evans — who grew up in Newtown, Pa., where his father taught English at a Quaker school — morphed with the times. He understood fashion, embraced youth culture and built custom pieces for celebrities like the ventriloquist Shari Lewis and the singer Roy Orbison. That ability “to transform as the culture around him was shifting” gave him posthumous appeal, said Kirsten Jensen, the chief curator at the Michener Art Museum.

In the folksy ’60s, Mr. Evans designed ornate welded steel-front cabinets that drew inspiration from the sculpture work of Picasso, Harry Bertoia and Julio Gonz├ílez. His twist was repositioning those influences within his own beatnik framework.

Without much money, he and his studio partner Phillip Lloyd Powell even got their wood from the reject pile of George Nakashima, their neighbor in New Hope, Pa.

At the height of his success during the disco ’70s, Mr. Evans teamed up with the furniture behemoth Directional, where he and a team of 70 produced the now-coveted chrome-and-brass-accented Cityscape line, including a headboard shaped like a marquee — complete with electric glow bulbs. (For extra money, Mr. Evans and his team installed upholstery in Studio 54.)

In 1980, disco fell out of favor and Mr. Evans’s business hit the skids, so he closed the studio in New Hope, moved to New York and designed sleek, industrial beds and wall units that could be rotated or raised via remote control. Bring on the boxy-suit-wearing bankers and their social X-ray wives!

By the mid-80s, Mr. Evans was no longer making a living and he began drinking heavily.

On March 6, 1987, he shut down his business and drove from New York to his vacation home on Nantucket. The next morning, he went for a cup of coffee on his porch, had a massive heart attack and died, said his assistant Dorsey Reading. He was just 55.
Source: The NY Times 


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