Art and Design in New York

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday March 24, 2021

Currently on view at Japan Society, When Practice Becomes Form: Carpentry Tools from Japanfeatures a diverse array of hand tools—planes, axes, saws—and joinery techniques that have been used to build Japan’s wooden architectural masterpieces for hundreds of years—from temples and shrines to bridges. 

In the press release, gallery director Yukie Kamiya says, “This year is the 50th anniversary of the landmark building of Japan Society, designed by visionary architect Junzo Yoshimura, who integrated traditional Japanese craftsmanship with Modernist design, allowing Japan Society to become a platform to study tradition and embrace the new in order to greet the present. Also as it is the 10th memorial year since the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake, now more than ever, the resilience and creativity of Japanese carpentry inspires us with a vision of sustainability.” 

The show unpacks how the intangible qualities of making, such as the consummate experience, knowledge and the honed skills of master carpenters, have been transformed into significant built forms. This site-specific installation, conceived by contemporary architect Sou Fujimoto in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Popular Architecture, explores the coexistence of nature and design, highlighting an enduring connection between traditional Japanese wooden construction and modern architecture. 
This exhibition is organized by Japan Society in collaboration with Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, Japan. Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NY, NY Info View the digital catalogue here


At the opposite end of the spectrum is Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn’s new Salon 94 Design, opened last week in a landmark Beaux Arts townhouse. The L-shaped building, formerly part of the shuttered National Academy of Design campus, was a modern novelty when it was built in 1914: framed in steel, it offers column-free space across the 40-foot span of its concrete-slab floors. Above: Photo Dan Bradica / Courtesy of the Niki Charitable Art Foundation and Salon 94, New York

Renovated by architect Rafael Viñoly, the most impressive spaces, such as former dining room (below), tiled in checkerboard French and Belgian marbles and faced in the same Caen stone used inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, were largely kept in their original majestic state.


Bringing the art of design to the Upper East Side is an inspired move, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal magazine. “I think Jeanne’s new gallery is a harbinger of welcome change to the slightly more stuffy Museum Mile notion,” says Sheena Wagstaff, department chairman of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wagstaff has been tracking an influx of new galleries on the Upper East Side and thinks the area is “changing its essential character.” Photo above courtesy Salon 94

With the Guggenheim situated just across 89th Street and a number of day schools within blocks, Salon 94 is already planning to balance its typically rigorous approach with some broader programming. The Journal feature states that Greenberg Rohatyn is a big believer in the experiential wow, which she often instigates in the gallery with face-offs between, say, the primeval-chic antler chairs of fashion designer Rick Owens and the circuslike ceramics of Betty Woodman, or a happening in which artist Nicolas Party prepares a feast for 24 guests, using plates, chairs and a table of his own design.

As an early member of the Frieze London and Frieze New York gallery selection committees, Greenberg Rohatyn advocated for the concept of dealers curating their booth furniture alongside the art. To her, the idea was foundational….“I come from the school of thought that art needs a lot of help,” she says. “And we are responsible as dealers to make it magical, to install it correctly and light it correctly and think about the experience.”

Salon 94, 3 East 89th Street, NY, NY. Currently on View: Niki de Saint Phalle | Joy Revolution; Derrick Adams | Style Revolution; Takuro Kuwata | Zungurimukkuri (Roly Poly). Appointments required: Information about S94+