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Jan062011

Arthur E. Smith, Andrew Crispo & the Death Mask Murder 

Cork folding screens by Eileen Gray; bronze by William Zorach; painting by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1919

"Arthur E. Smith, Billy Baldwin's protege and partner before Baldwin's retirement in 1972, created these rooms for Andrew Crispo, a Manhattan gallery owner, of whom much has been written elsewhere. However, the client is not under review here - merely his possessions and good sense in choosing Mr Smith as his decorator." [1]

HOLE: ASKING FOR IT

Armchairs and corner table by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann; paintings by Arthur Dove

Desk by Jean-Michel Frank, 1925

"Inside, Andrew Crispo's apartment was a single large room, although it took some time to notice this. The door entered onto a spacious living room, with delicate furniture and colorful Art Deco appointments all around. Behind the sofa, a corklike screen rose up like a wall, dividing off the bedroom, which was also divided in two by an elaborate partition. A kitchen and bathroom grew off either side of the living area like ears. All around, dark, warm, comforting colors played on the walls, the paintings, the priceless objects d'art scattered deliberately about.

"'My friend Arthur Smith decorated it,' said Andrew after Bernard complimented the decor. 'Let me show you his place.' They walked out to a terrace and crossed to the building's other penthouse, which was two stories tall, with a tremendous greenhouse garden. Crispo and Smith--friends for twenty years and lovers for just the first two or three--owned the roof of this building and moved freely between the two apartments. Arthur, Crispo said, was out of town on business, but wouldn't mind. 'we share everything,' he explained. 'Mostly we eat over here, though.'" [2]

Painting by Morris Louis, 1958; Carpet by Evelyn Wild, 1925; Low table by Jean-Michel Frank, 1929

Mirror and lacquered mantle both by Arthur E. Smith; Pair of cachepots by Josef Hoffman

"He is a true collector, and he believes that the real collector buys anything he wants to buy. 'Maybe he can't afford it, but he manages. For myself, I've never been afraid to part with money for an object, and I'll even pay more than I know something is worth--simply because I really love it and want it.' Although Andrew Crispo owns one of New York's leading modern art galleries, he makes it an absolute rule never to sell anything bought for his collection. 'I don't even exchange in order to "upgrade," because there's no "upgrading" to be done if you really love something. The collector should buy, not because of fashion, but because of liking. There is no reason for my collections, beyond the fact that I really like these things.'" [3]

In Plato's Cave by Robert Motherwell, 1973; wall sculpture by Varujan Boghosian

"By the early seventies, [Maynard] Walker [Crispo's previous employer and mentor] had retired to Wayne County, in eastern Pennsylvania, where he lived with the artist Joe Stegner, both of whom died shortly thereafter. Twice, Crispo and [Arthur] Smith visited him there, and both times, after they had left, Walker turned to his groundskeeper and said, "He was supposed to be learning art; I was trying to teach him. But he's a fake. A complete fake." [2]

Study for Nude Descending a Staircase, Marcel Duchamp; Wedgewood vase

Table, I believe [not cited in the original AD article], by Pace Collection; chairs by Jean-Michel Frank; paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe and Stuart Davis

 

TEXT [1] TAKEN FROM "MR. CRISPO'S DECOROUS BACKGROUND", THE BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS, 2.5.2010; TEXT [2] TAKEN FROM BAG OF TOYS: SEX, SCANDAL AND THE DEATH MASK MURDER BY DAVID FRANCE, 1992; TEXT [3] TAKEN FROM ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST, MARCH, 1980, FEATURE AND INTERVIEW BY JOHN LORING; PHOTO OF ANDREW CRISPO FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINE, 2.5.1996; TEXT SCREEN GRABS TAKEN FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES ARCHIVES; ALL OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER VITALE FOR ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST, MARCH, 1980, AND TAKEN FROM THE BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS

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Reader Comments (1)

this post is a breathtaking work of editing!
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterA.C.H.

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