When the Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair opens its doors for a four-day run at the Park Avenue Armory with an evening preview on April 15, cutting-edge modern and contemporary design, decorative arts, and jewelry will take front and center stage. Sixty galleries from the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Turkey, Japan, and Brazil will come together and push the boundaries of medium and genre, reinforcing SOFA’s leading reputation amongst art and design enthusiasts. The pieces on offer, produced by artists and designers from around the globe, go far beyond the traditional decorative arts, not only embracing purely sculptural forms and conceptual meanings, but also new materials and processes.
Luminaries such as Ruth Duckworth, Beatrice Wood, Lenore Tawney, Betty Woodman, Peter Voulkos, Wharton Esherick, and Lino Tagliapietra, stand beside up-and-coming artists such as Beth Lipman, Chris Antemann, Cristina Cordova, Lola Brooks, Jennifer Trask and Junko Mori. Their medium-based works, including art in glass, silver, ceramics, fiber, metal, wood, as well as unconventional materials from high-tech polymers to recycled rubber are highly sought after by collectors and design enthusiasts worldwide.
David McFadden, Chief Curator and Vice President for Programs and Collections at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York declared, “MAD is delighted to host a special a benefit cocktail party on Opening Night at SOFA, where many of the artists in the Museum’s collection will be showing new work. SOFA is an essential part of New York’s rich cultural life, celebrating contemporary decorative arts and design.”
Among the many highlights of this year’s edition are:
Clare Beck at Adrian Sassoon (London, UK)
Two of the world’s pre-eminent dealers in fine ceramics, glass, silver, and jewelry, make a triumphant return to SOFA New York with the delicate glasswork of Rachael Woodman. Educated at the Royal College of Art in London, Woodman employs both blown glass and cold cutting techniques to produce unique objects that beautifully explore intersections of form, color, and function. Her work can be found in major international collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Corning Glass Museum, New York
Ferrin Gallery (Pittsfield, MA)
Nestled amongst the picturesque Berkshire Mountains, Ferrin Gallery’s cutting-edge roster of artists working in ceramics and sculpture has attracted considerable acclaim for over twenty years. Ferrin, a favorite at SOFA for her themed shows, presents Reobjectification, in which her artists take an existing object and create a new one directly based on it, featuring the work of Gordon Chandler, Christa Assad and many others. Leslie Ferrin is proud to bring a taste of the continuously burgeoning Berkshires cultural scene down to New York.
Habatat Galleries Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Founder Karen Echt has tirelessly worked to promote contemporary glass art for over a decade and has built a reputation for not only representing artists but also truly nurturing their careers and abilities. She brings the work of six artists to this year’s fair, all under the age of 30, including the mesmerizing new series Andaman by Shayna Leib. Named after a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal, the world’s largest bay, Leib takes the myriad life aquatic forms found there as her major source of inspiration for her colorful and evocative pieces.
Heller Gallery (New York, NY)
Lino Tagliapietra, the focus of Heller Gallery’s booth, continues to reach new heights in his multi-faceted career as an artist and teacher. From 1955-86 he worked as a master glassblower and designer at Galliano Ferro, Venini, La Murrina, and Effetre International, and his connection to the centuries-old tradition of Venetian glassmaking tradition is immediately apparent in his work, which has grown only more ambitious and thought provoking since his first apprenticeship over 50 years ago. “Mr. Tagliapietra is able to interpret and translate concepts into hot glass that would be impossible without his extraordinary abilities,” wrote Susanne K. Frantz, Curator of 20th Century Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. (New York, NY) Mirviss has established her gallery as a premier platform for exhibition of Japanese art in New York, especially screens and scrolls, woodblock prints, and ceramics. This year she will mount Reflections on Nature: Ceramic Sculptures by Koike Shôko, featuring 20 painstakingly crafted works by the pioneering woman artist to debut at SOFA. The artist will give a lecture on April 17th at 11:15 am and will also be present at the booth on April 18th at 1:00pm
Joanna Bird Pottery (London, UK)
Joanna Bird brings 30 years of experience of showcasing contemporary and vintage ceramics to SOFA. Artists such as Chien-Wei Chang and Fernando Casasempere bring a profound sense of simplicity and precision to their explorations of the medium’s vitality in contemporary culture. Pieces such as these challenge the pejorative and all too limited label of ‘craft’ often ascribed to ceramics and other media found throughout the fair.
Katie Jones (London, UK)
Another expert in Japanese art and antiques, Katie Jones, is pleased to present an exciting cross section of recent sculpture. Among the works on view are the evocative and challenging pieces by sculptor Koji Hatakeyama, who makes cast bronze lidded boxes that are not always meant to be functional. His work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Moderne Gallery (Philadelphia, PA)
Gallery director Robert Aibel sets high-quality pieces aside throughout the year just to bring out for SOFA. This year his focus is vintage work from the American Craft and Studio Furniture Movement, featuring designers Sam Maloof, Wharton Esherick, and George Nakashima. German Architectural Digest recently called Aibel the “world’s leading [George] Nakashima dealer.” The organic yet polished forms of a walnut end table from 1968 are characteristic of Nakashima’s highly sought after vintage furniture pieces, which have been exhibited at such venues as the American Craft Museum in New York, where the designer was labeled a “Living Treasure” shortly before his death in 1990.
Ornamentum (Hudson, NY)
Stefan Friedemann showcases avant-garde jewelry from myriad American and European designers, primarily from Germany and the Netherlands, in his upstate New York space. Dutch designer Ruudt Peters, whose eye-catching pieces explore such disparate themes as religion, beauty and space, will figure prominently at the gallery’s SOFA NEW YORK booth, in addition to stunning new work by New Paltz-based Sergey Jivetin. Peters will lecture at the SOFA NEW YORK Lecture Series on Friday, April 16.
Thea Burger (New York, NY)
Chicago-based, German-born sculptor Ruth Duckworth, whose illustrious career as teacher and artist spanned several decades passed away at the age of in 90 in October. As a tribute, her long-time dealer Thea Burger will mount an exhibition of carefully selected pieces at this year’s fair, largely produced during the artist’s final years and many chosen from her personal collection. A prominent fixture at previous SOFA fairs, Thea Burger’s booth will cement Duckworth’s legacy as a true master of clay.
“SOFA is by far my favorite show of the year,” added Chicago-based textile designer Suzanne Lovell, “as the artists are of the highest quality available at any show in the country. Attending SOFA NEW YORK is such a pleasure as I am always guaranteed to find a fantastic new artisan or a fresh and exciting from one of my favorites.”
Location: Park Avenue Armory // 643 Park Avenue at East 67th Street, New York City 10065
Subway: 6 Train to 68th Street/Hunter College; Bus: M101, M102, or M103 to Lexington Ave & 68th Street.
Opening Night: Thursday, April 15: Invitation-only 5:30 – 7 pm, Public Preview: 7 – 9 pm, Tickets: $100.00. Opening Night attendees may also support New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) by purchasing a ticket to attend a private cocktail/dinner event in the Armory’s Tiffany Room.
To purchase tickets call Stephanie Lang at 212-299-7729.
Exposition hours: Friday, April 16: 11 – 7 pm; Saturday, April 17: 11 – 7 pm; Sunday, April 18: noon – 6 pm; Monday, April 19: 11 – 5 pm.
Tickets: $25 for a single day of general admission and $40 for a four-day pass; both include catalog.
General information: Visit www.sofaexpo.com; call 800-563-SOFA (7632) or 773-506-8860; or email email@example.com