On April 27-30, dealers of furniture, textiles, silver, sculpture, Folk Art, 20th-century design and decorative arts — as well as prints, maps, paintings and architectural design — will be displaying their wares at the 15th annual "Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair: Art, Antiques and Jewelry from BC to 20C."
"The Antiques Fair draws buyers from all over the world," says Fern Kalai, owner of Arts 220 in Winnetka, Ill., who has participated in the show for the last five years. "I remember last year selling an Op art sculpture to a wonderful couple from Switzerland. The show's reputation and downtown Chicago location attracts designers and collectors interested in quality antiques. Between the architecture and the Chicago River, you will not find a more beautiful setting than the Merchandise Mart."
Kalai, who focuses on American and European modern art and design, notes that there has been an increased interest in modernism due to museum exhibitions, auctions and collector interest.
"I will be featuring several iconic pieces from 1960 to 1970, a period of design that's very hot right now both here and in Europe," she says. "These include a rare space age chrome collar by Pierre Cardin circa 1968, a large ceramic tile relief by Victor Vasarely for Rosenthal circa 1965, and a 1966 beautiful oil on canvas by Robert Goodnough, 'Red and Green with Pale Colors.'"
Lee Thinnes, owner of Lee's Antiques in Winnetka, who curates unusual, rare and provocative European and American pieces of furniture, lighting and accessories from early to mid 20th century with a strong focus on the mid-century, is showcasing a very rare Scandinavian Mid-Century style dining table with an aluminum base and painted lacquered wood top with the artist's signature "MYGGE" on it as well as a signed 1970s Curtis Jere "Raindrops" series copper framed round mirror.
"This is our second year exhibiting at the Mart Fair," Thinnes says. "I feel the Mart is a premier show because it attracts the highest quality dealers with very beautiful and rare pieces from all over the world. I also believe that people are excited to visit the show because it is held in such a magnificent and style-conscious city as Chicago."
And though there are rare and expensive objects, there is a range of prices from which to choose.
"The Fair is perfect for anyone from a seasoned collector to a young person just getting started to someone looking to add something unique to their home," says Lisa Simonian, vice president of consumer shows for Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. "The art and antiques featured range from rare and expensive to eclectic and accessible, and that's what makes the Fair so interesting."
The keynote presentation, "Designs on Film: A Century of Decoration in the Movies" by Cathy Whitlock, will take place on Friday at 10 a.m. Whitlock will discuss set design and interior decoration from movies such as "Top Hat," "The Fountainhead," "Gone With the Wind," "The Age of Innocence" and "Something's Gotta Give." Whitlock is the author of "Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction" (HarperCollins 2010), a comprehensive compilation of iconic interiors and architecture photos culled from sifting through decades of archival film images. A book signing will follow.
Clifford A. Wallach, an antique dealer who specializes in Tramp Art — a unique folk art dating from the 1880s to 1940s — will be discussing and signing copies of his recently released book, "A Legacy in Tramp Art" (Schiffer Publishing 2012) at 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
Back again this year are the popular Designer Vignettes — displays created by leading designers who fashion room-scapes melding contemporary furnishings with antique and vintage finds. Guided tours of the Fair are also available.
"We're excited to offer collectors and shoppers access to a treasure trove of work from antiquities to mid 20th-century modernism," says Simonian. "We hope attendees will leave the Fair with a deeper knowledge and appreciation for timeless design."