Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture at Large ventured into his first curatorial endeavor with Christie’s for a special installation that premieres the sale of The Collector: English & European Furniture, Fine Art, Ceramics & Silver. From a gilt centaur with an amethyst base to a cameo acid-etched vase to a Louis XVI mahogany desk, de Cárdenas studied individual works in the upcoming sale to design a display of highlights from the auction.
Showcased atop bronze-hued plinths, de Cárdenas’ favorite lots are interspersed in a landscape of flowers and palm leaves delicately arranged by Meta Flora. With over 300 lots, the auction encompasses 17th to 19th-century European furniture, sculpture, works of art, silver, ceramics, carpets and more, with starting prices ranging from the thousands to the hundred thousands.
AN asked Rafael de Cárdenas about his installation design, his personal knowledge of decorative arts, and what he found fascinating about the sale.
The Architect’s Newspaper: How long have you been collecting decorative arts and why did you start?
Rafael de Cárdenas: Barring a few purchases at antique shops in France, I wouldn’t say I’m a collector of decorative arts. I collect quite a bit of design pieces but mostly 20th century. Working with Christie’s on this exciting collaboration may change that however. I will be bidding on pieces in the auction!
Can you tell us about the installation and what your inspiration was?
I don’t think these items need a lot of razzle dazzle; they are quite dazzling on their own. We are simply curating a particularly mannerist selection together on semi-rounded tiered plinths. The plinths isolate each piece, giving them more attention than they might normally have in a traditional living environment. We are working with Meta Flora to weave a monochromatic but lush landscape as an element interacting with the pieces.
In your studies of the lots, what did you find most intriguing or surprising?
Lot 237, a George Woodall for Thomas Webb glass cameo work, is particularly compelling in its general moodiness. I’ve been drawn to the glass works most, I’d say. Lot 271, a Louis Solon for Mintons glass vessel, is another favorite. Many of the smaller fragile works are so atmospheric almost to the point of no other function.
What are your favorite works/artists from the 17th to the 19th century?
I would have been unable to answer that a few months ago, but I particularly like the pieces by George Woodall for Thomas Webb Glass in the auction.
The installation is on view in Rockefeller Plaza at Christie’s from April 6-9. Afterward, the auction will follow on the day after, on April 10.