The Missing Stettheimer Furniture

A while back, I mentioned artist Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944),  to whom I regularly refer for whimsical, candy colored inspiration and witty quotes.  Surely, she was an interesting character (for one, she bucked social conventions and chose not to marry in favor of a career), and although her work was supported by some of America's most prominent artists (Marcel Duchamp was a close friend), art critics (Henry McBride wrote raving reviews), gallery owners (Alfred Stieglitz) and society figures, she is obscure compared to some of her contemporaries- Georgia O'Keefe and Charles Demuth, for example.

Above: Florine Stettheimer's apartment, including furniture designed by the artist, and her paintings Music (1920) and Portrait of Myself (1923)

Even lesser known than her paintings is the careful consideration she took in displaying them, designing each frame and even furnishings (consoles, benches) to complement her canvases. Stettheimer had no financial need to sell her work and instead displayed the vignettes in her fashionable (if slightly insane) New York City apartment overlooking Bryant Park.  Swathed in a VAST amount of cellophane and copious quantity of lace, one gets the sense that her apartment, and furnishings were an extension of her aesthetic- her paintings and especially the sets she designed for Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts reflect the same brand of whimsy.

Above: Stettheimer's studio space, complete with cellophane galore, a crystal floral bouquet, and another of her trompe l'oeil drapery furniture pieces. 

Anyway, the voyeur in me LOVES a good, intimate peep into the life of an artist via her interior, and I've always found Florine's (oh, it's like we're on first name basis) interesting because of the scope of her aesthetic.  She didn't miss a detail!  What's more, I find it even crazier to think about this is the context of some of the more industrially influenced, modernist designs of her time- her frouf flies in the face of that, and yet, she was obviously... committed to her aesthetic.

Above: Sketches for furniture, and Florine Stettheimer's apartment, with Sun (1931) hanging over a commode the artist designed

Her divinely cool trompe l'oeil furniture reflects the aesthetic of her paintings. Tragic that it was all donated to Columbia's student theater, where every single piece has since gone missing over the years. 

Above: Sun (1931)

Above: Portrait of Myself (1923)

Above: Portrait of Marcel Duchamp (1923), in the frame that the artist designed

Above: Portrait of Virgil Thomson (1930)


Joseph said...

I love the portrait of Duchamp. If ever I receive a portrait from a famous artist, I believe I will make a frame out of my initials as well.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

wow -so amazing! I think i'm in love with cellophane draperies....how cool do those look!

home before dark said...

Love the self portrait. Klimt-like or Klimt-lite without the gilding. Elegant but insouciant.

Off the List said...

She paints like Isabel Allende writes.

The frames are great, almost worth copying....

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

What a inspired apt.-I have often looked at her paintings and seeing them in habitat is all the more enchanting. This is a beautiful post-wonder of wonders to see the paintings enlarged. Wonder where all that wonderful is?

I am in love with the cellophane too!
(I confess to tweeting-and I will chirp away at this-do you? as a voyeur I should think you would)


ArchitectDesign- I know!! Her cellophane drapes are fantastic!

Home before dark- Love Klimt, and I can definitely see the similarities. But yes, definitely "lite" on the gilding!

Off the list- The Marcel Duchamp "MD" frame is one of my favorites, but she also had a hefty eagle one for a painting she did of George Washington that is lovely. All of her frames are so interesting, and compliment the paintings so well, that it bothers me when the books on her omit the frames from the plates of her work! The way I see it, they're a part of the artwork, for sure.

Little Augury- I also wonder where it all went... And thanks for the tweet! I haven't yet joined twitter, although I've been thinking about it. I guess that's one area where I'm technologically living under a rock. Perhaps something for me to tackle in the near future...

Anonymous said...

Dear Author www.indecoroustaste.com !
Your phrase is very good

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?


Anonymous- Yes, you can definitely cite my post in your blog, just link (IN)DECOROUS TASTE! And no, I don't have a Twitter account- yet. I'll be sure to let everyone know when I do, though. Lauren

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