Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sculptural Works by Jim Nickel

We recently acquired a wall-mounted sculptural piece by the artist Jim Nickel. The piece was once exhibited at the St. Louis Art Museum, then joined Genell Miller's private collection, and now awaits finding a new home.

The incised lines, in rusty red, yellow, and blue-green hues, run vertically and horizontally throughout the piece. It's signed and dated 1978, and is incised (wood routered!) and painted on its surface. It's a stunning piece, at over six feet tall, with jagged edges and a glossy surface, catching the light beautifully and casting shadows on the wall.  It's certainly a statement, and pairs wonderfully with the midcentury furniture in our shop.

Nickel is originally from Illinois, and studied art at Washington University from 1968-1970, which explains his tie to the city of St. Louis. He holds an MFA from Columbia University, and lives and works in Brooklyn today. He, like Fred Nelson (see our last blog post about his work in our shop), is represented by Atrium Gallery in St. Louis.

 Here you can make out the incised lines.

Below are several examples of other wall-mounted sculptural pieces Nickel has created over the years, all of which are composed with strips of wood side-by-side and painting atop.

New Venture Piece # 19, 2012

The Great Wave, 1982

New Venture Piece # 26, 2012

Jim Nickel is also known for his paintings, works on paper, and photographs. Below are several examples of these. Nickel's sculptural style is echoed in these as well, using geometric shapes, textural color blocking, and dynamic compositions full of movement. In some of these, the mark-making becomes even more biomorphic and curvilinear than the sculptures. Other pieces introduce stamping and text, very reminiscent of other artists working during the period such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

Lack of Ventilation, 1976, Color pencil, rubber stamp, typewriter

 from the Laticework Series, 1998, Gouache and pencil on paper

from the Fragmented Series, 2010, Gouache and pencil

Photos courtesy of Jim Nickel's website.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fredrick Nelson Paintings

We recently acquired two large oil paintings by the St. Louis artist Fredrick Nelson. Both pieces were created during the late 1970's, and evoke more somber color schemes than his recent painting and pastel works with decidedly brighter color palettes. Nelson is well-known as a colorist, though also for his mark-making and attention to form and texture. The pieces came from Genell Miller's private collection, now hanging amongst the mid-century furniture and decor in our shop, and feel completely at home.

Image of the first (of two) piece we recently acquired, oil on canvas, 1979.

Fredrick Nelson studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute, and in 1975 received an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. His exhibition record is significant, having held solo exhibitions continuously since the 1970's, with inclusion in a number of public and private collections. Some notable exhibitions, both solo and group, have been held at The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Atrium Gallery, the University of Taipei, and the Nelson Atkins Museums of Art. Frederick Nelson is currently represented by Atrium Gallery in St. Louis.

You'll notice in both of the early pieces we acquired, Nelson was (and is!) very much concerned with surface. Within them we find traces of the artist's process: the paint is scratched, carved, and carefully chipped away, while in other places the canvas is coated in heavy layers of paint. Other materials, such as strips of canvas and paper, are collaged on top of the oil paint, adding more to the tactile quality of the work. 

Detail of the first piece we acquired.

The second piece we acquired is called Promenade, and is an excellent example of Nelson using a more neutral color scheme alongside subtley bright, saturated colors. In this instance we can see a bright pop of orange at the bottom of the painting, an anomaly creating an interesting focal point. See the painting below.

The second Nelson piece we acquired, Promenade, oil on canvas, 1978.

Detail of Promenade

Detail of Promenade

The images below are a couple examples of Fredrick Nelson's newer work, in which he uses even brighter, more saturated color schemes. These pieces were recently included in an exhibition at Atrium Gallery (photo courtesy Atrium). Please visit their website for information.

Lost Heart, 2009

This Verse, 2010

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dorothy Thorpe Designs

Recently we've seen Dorothy Thorpe's glassware designs regain popularity, due, in large part, to AMC's Mad Men featuring Don Draper and other cast members regularly sipping out of Thorpe's roly poly Silver Band glasses. Thorpe's designs are timeless. So, it's no wonder Mad Men has selected her designs to feature, but further, that many viewers watching have realized just how special her pieces are.

Dorothy Thorpe ca 1938.

Don Draper, of Mad Men, with a Thorpe roly poly glass.

Though much before the recent attention her pieces have garnered on television, Thorpe's designs have long been sought after and collected. Thorpe worked out of Los Angeles from the 1930s through the 1950s, a self-taught designer, developing much of her ideas through sketches and more carefully rendered drawings. 

Dorothy Thorpe Silver Band glass

As she wasn't a manufacturer of glass, Thorpe embellished glassworks first made by companies such as Tiffin and Heisey. To be clear, Thorpe purchased large lots of glass, and then added her designs to the pieces. Amongst her projects were materials such as glass, lucite, and ceramic dishware with signature designs in etching, sand-blasting, and silver overlays. Her lamps, windows, linens, and museum commissions are amongst the more rare designs.

Lucite Candlesticks by Dorothy Thorpe

In our own shop we recently put out several authentic Dorothy Thorpe designs, alongside other pieces in the manner of Thorpe. Although the silver banding was rather tarnished on the glasses, we were able to clean up the silver beautifully! We've found Thorpe's pieces have recently become incredibly popular as wedding gifts. A lot of people interested in Thorpe designs are leaning towards giving these gifts, since they are unique, classic, and collectable.

Many of Thorpe's pieces were unsigned, although this platter is signed underneath.

You can begin to make out Thorpe's signature on the underside of our platter.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Vintage Bark Glass

Timo Sarpaneva "Festivo" Candle Holders

Textured glass was a big trend in the late 1960s and 1970s, which was a time that Scandinavian designers, who were obsessed with wood, had a huge influence on design. As a whole, these pieces can be referred to as " Bark Glass".

The first glass factory in Iittala village was founded in 1881. During the years the factory has produced everything from simple glassware for domestic use to renowned design glass made by well-known Finnish designers such as Tapio Wirkkala, Kaj Franck and Timo Sarpaneva.

In The Manner Of Tapio Wirkkala

In the Manner of Tapio Wirkkala

As this glassware gained in popularity in the 1970s, other companies were keeping up with the Trend. Jeannette Glass became known for their more traditional style glassware, but for a short time in the early '70s, the company was also creating pieces in a "Bark Glass" pattern. All of these pieces are "mold blown" which is what creates that wonderful texture.

Vintage Textured Glass Apple Bowls Marked,"Italy"

These Bark glass, apple shaped bowls are each marked "Italy", but follow the same Scandinavian trend. All of the above pieces we have in the shop at the moment are clear glass, but the Bark Glass trend did not stop there. These pieces can be found in amber colored and green glass just as easily.

Amber Bark Glass

Green Bark Glass

There are also some more rare colored pieces that can be found in cobalt and amethyst.

Amethyst Bark Glass
Cobalt Bark Glass

As trends tend to come and go, the bark glass of the late 1960s and 1970s is starting to surface again, and is being proudly displayed in modern settings.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vintage Brazilian Rosewood Furniture

In 1992, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered species ( CITES) added Dalbergia Nigra, commonly known as rosewood, was put under Appendix I, to halt all international trade in logs, veneer, lumber and finished products.
The exemption to Appendix I  trade restrictions is wood harvested before the species was listed in March 1992. 
The good news is that all of our pieces are vintage and there won't be  anyone from CITES tracking you down trying to confiscate your Danish Modern furniture!
Manner of Torbjorn Afdal Credenza
Beautiful details
This piece is new to the shop, and in the manor of Torbjorn Afdal. This piece is definitely a show stopper. The inside is set up to house your dry bar or keep your beautiful serving pieces close at hand.

One of my personal favorites in the shop right now, features gorgeous rosewood legs. (it's all in the details)
In the Manner Of Borge Mogensen Settee
This beautiful high grade brown leather settee is the perfect spot to curl up, read a book and not worry about dripping red wine on the cushions, or your furry friend covering it in hair as you snuggle. 
Vintage Danish Bachelor's chest
This low bachelor's chest is also made from that gorgeous Rosewood we have all grown to love. The chrome cylindrical legs really give this piece a modern feel, and the deep grain color of this piece is why Rosewood is such a desired vintage treasure.
Using a furniture polish that contains linseed oil, is what the pros recommend to keep your beautiful Rosewood pieces in top condition, and like other vintage furniture pieces, try to display them out of direct sunlight, so that the pieces don't get bleached out.
One of the most iconic pieces of Mid Century furniture is the Eames lounge chair, and I'm sure you can guess because of the title of this post, that yes, The Eames lounge chair with the Brazilian Rosewood shell is the most desirable and rare. The Eames' stopped producing their lounge chair in Brazilian Rosewood in 1991, right before The endangered wood was listed as prohibited.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Storefront Finally Here!

If you have been wondering what happened to Rocket Century's Blogspot over the past few months, we have been in high gear since late June and early July moving from our warehouse location and up-fitting a new storefront location to add to our online store. Yes, Rocket Century has gone bricks and mortar!
A Peek Inside One Of Rocket Century's Storefront Windows
A Pair Of Overman Chairs & A Von Nessen Floor Lamp
Fill Out The Other Storefront Window
The new storefront is located at 3189 South Grand, St. Louis, MO 63118 in the wonderful South Grand Business District, just south of Tower Grove Park. It's is one of four busy storefronts in the Historic Grand Connecticut Building built in 1905 as part of the city expansion following the 1904 World's Fair. The storefront boasts wonderful 13 foot ceilings, large architectural columns, and the original mosaic tile floors of the era. Rocket Century's vintage furniture, artwork, accessories, and architectural finds blend well in this cool space. The area is bustling with people meeting for dinner at one of the many amazing restaurants on Grand and many of the neighborhood couples and families out for a stroll. 

After two years in a secluded old South City warehouse, the change of a storefront with natural light pouring in and customers to interact with is a welcome change. Our online customers will continue to be a priority as we make this transition, but the addition of live customers who have an opportunity to touch, feel, see, and experience our many vintage pieces is very exciting. Lets take a quick look inside!
Ceramic Lamp By Raymor With Volcanic Glaze & Cigarette  Box  Also By Raymor
Some New, But Vintage Fedoras In Boxes!
(All in larger sizes)
Some Vintage Worn Fedoras
Wow, even as I review this again, I already see that we have changes in the storefront even in the past week. New additions, and pieces sold are happening a lot quicker in the storefront, so check by frequently to see what's new. 
A Vintage Refurbished Olympia Report Electric C. 1970's
A 1950's Vintage Manual Smith Corona With Original Case
There are a lot of things that we are offering in the shop too, that will not be featured online. We have multiple vintage fedora's, some even new vintage with tags on them, vintage silk ties, typewriters, more bar glasses and dish sets, vintage handbags, and many more items, not yet listed on the web. The shop is a good place to come and see it first!
20Th Century Design Reference Gives
Our Customers Resources To Get Inspired
And Educated About Design & Architecture
The Shop also has a comfortable area to sit and check out various reference books on 20Th century modern design, artwork, and accessories of the era. They are wonderful books to gather inspiration and knowledge from.We hope to add more to the shop that will also be available for sale.  We often spend a lot of time doing research on the pieces we purchase before we list them on the web site or put them in the shop. Sharing this knowledge helps our customers know the value of what they are purchasing for themselves and appreciate their design. Uncovering the history of an item is sometimes the best part of what we do. Passing on that knowledge to our customers makes the experience even better.

We will keep you posted on happenings and our preparation for a grand opening in October. Thanks for stopping by!