Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'll take it

Over the years I’ve noticed a fairly consistent criteria for the objects on display at Moss; a high-end household retail store on Greene Street in SoHo. There are items that are handsomely made and purely, exquisitely beautiful. Other pieces tend to be handsomely made and rather funny. But overall, they tend to be seemingly rare items I have never seen anywhere before.

The objects, furniture and jewelry in Murray Moss’s collection are as intricately curated as any museum show. For the most part, what you find in a museum store is only representative of the museum’s collection, sort of a brand extension and not a picture of what the museum exhibits in its galleries. But the objects at Moss’s gallery are for sale, making this the museum store that puts the museum back in the store.

One of the most breath-taking objects was a scaled down version of the Metropolitan Opera’s central descending chandelier, designed by Hans Harold Rath and manufactured by J&L Lobmeyer in 1960. For Moss, it was replicated and brought down to household size (at least if your household was on the scale of a minor Renaissance palace). Objects such as this are the stuff of dreams, utterly unattainable, but here it was, for sale at Moss.

(You can still buy it online. Go here: http://www.mossonline.com/product-exec/product_id/41765/category_id/455
and just click “I’ll TAKE IT” to put it in your basket. How remarkable, that you can “one-click” a $68,765.00 chandelier. Too much wine and an itchy finger could get you into lots of trouble.)

Moss also has some of the most beautiful collections of hand painted porcelain dishes such as the $2600 five-piece white place setting with gold trim by Wolfgang von Wirsen designed in 1944. Or my favorite, the Chinese oval platter for a mere $709 that is reminiscent of Hermes. A curatorial point well taken; one can find Hermes easily, one cannot find this 1730 plate by Johann Joachim Kaendler so readily.

But the items that delight the most are the ones that exhibit humor. A matte bisque 10” Jackdaw perched on a branch for $2350 or Cindy Sherman’s Madam Pompadour Limoges porcelain. A 1916 17” porcelain miniature Doberman pinscher for $4,000? Now that’s funny!

But not everything in the store is cost prohibitive. For my birthday one year, some friends bought me two Artecnica transSglass vases made from recycled wine bottles. One was a bottle that had been laser cut just below the shoulder. The top portion was then inverted and placed neck down into the bottom of the bottle. Sandblast and then viola, a flower vase for $62. Or there is the high-density polyethylene fiber Tvyek bag by designer Saskia Diez for $60.These items can be found on-line but the finding requires knowledge of their existence.

What heightens the museum experience is that all these pieces are behind glass, beyond reach. The couches and chairs all wear signs that say, “do not touch.” I tend to touch anyway but know that I dare not sit on anything unless I demonstrate a sincere desire to purchase. However with a charming gesture of self-parody, the store requires its employees to wear uniform t-shirts also printed with the words, “do not touch.”

Curation is not only the act of inclusion and subsequent omission; it also asks that the curator make choices that are of interest to the viewer. I find that Moss consistently shows me things that are not only interesting but are objects that I can rarely, if ever, find on my own.

(sadly i can't get pics of most of these items)