May 5, 2012 |
Joining three long-established auction houses in conducting early May catalog sales — Freeman's, Briggs, and Rago, in order of seniority — is an auction newcomer. Beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the 4700 Wissahickon Ave. business complex, where it has been a retailer for a dozen years, Material Culture will present an inaugural exhibition and auction titled "New World Orders. " The 550-lot sale will feature Asian and other ethnic, folk, and "outsider" art. Presale price estimates range from about $50 to $75 for a William H. Prestele etching to $40,000 to $60,000 for a Samuel Robb cigar store Indian that was a Pine Street "Antiques Row" fixture for decades.
January 13, 2012 |
Things and possessions have come to define 21st-century American life. We're one nation, under stuff. All is not junk. Some is precious. And this is the idiosyncratic province of Patricia Keller. She's a historian and decorative arts curator who studies cherished objects, from high-end museum collections to hand-sewn Lancaster County quilts, which were the focus of her doctoral dissertation at the University of Delaware. "Above-ground archaeology" is how Keller describes the study of what she calls "material culture," those family heirlooms infused with powerful stories that connect us to earlier generations and communities.
June 24, 2011 |
Nothing separates architects from the rest of humanity like concrete. Architects will go into raptures over its tough, tactile quality. But among the general public, who tend to associate the material with no-frills highways and bad public housing, concrete buildings evoke a visceral dislike. Maybe attitudes would be different if more people encountered Doylestown's Mercer Museum, a quirky French chateau formed entirely of concrete, window frames and roof included. Henry Mercer, the anthropologist, tile maker, and amateur architect who designed the improbable Bucks County castle in 1916, chose concrete for the most practical of reasons: He needed a fireproof building to house his astounding collection of wooden tools.
April 8, 2011 |
Friday night's preview gala for the Philadelphia Antiques Show - a highlight of the social calendar - costs $250 a person. You can pay even more for an earlier peek at the show's wares - $600 at 4:30 p.m. or $300 one hour later. That may seem steep to the typical Philly showgoer, but even at those prices, eager collectors and aficionados from all over the country will begin forming lines at the show's site, the cruise terminal pier at the Navy Yard. Once inside, they'll flock to the booths, where they'll inspect and purchase exquisite examples of early American decorative art and material culture - furniture, paintings, maps, prints, jewelry - offered by 50 select dealers.
December 12, 1999 |
Retrospectives are de rigueur at a moment like this, but this year's bounty of books about the stuff that surrounds us happens to also be rich in works a decade or more in the making. Among them is Katachi: Classic Japanese Design, by Takeji Iwamiya and Kazuya Takaoka (Chronicle Books, $29.95) The late Iwamiya, among Japan's foremost photographers, set his camera's eye to capturing the spirit of katachi. The term defies translation, but expresses the form, balance and craftsmanship of traditional Japanese design.
December 23, 1997 |
Material Culture is not a place you stumble on while shopping at the King of Prussia mall. On the other hand, it's not exactly what you'd expect to find in Nicetown, either, at least this part of North Philadelphia known for an abundance of warehouses and abandoned, graffiti-covered houses. For one thing, Material Culture sells an eclectic mix of folk art and craft, including Tibetan prayer flags, Indian village paintings, 19th century Chinese wardrobes and an impressive collection of Turkish rugs, some as large as 13 by 24 feet.
May 31, 1996 |
Material Culture, a term folklorists use to encompass the crafts, art and objects created and used by a people, is the apt name of a global marketplace that opened earlier this month at the Wissahickon Industrial Center in Philadelphia. It is riding, it would seem, a wave of interest in crafted and folk-art objects from far-off places. Despite its 30,000 square feet of warehouse space, Material Culture has an informal atmosphere. Rugs made in villages from Eastern Europe to Central Asia and the Far East line the walls; Chinese chairs hang from the ceiling above brightly painted Turkish donkey carts, hand-painted furniture from Romania, pottery from the Aegean coast, stacks of cake boxes from Indonesia, Chinese furniture - country and urban - weathered sea chests and dower boxes.
May 19, 1995 |
The material culture of the Germans who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania has remained close to the surface in the region, in part because it remains dynamic. The historical aspect of that culture is enshrined in various museums and archives all around us. One of the more significant of these repositories is the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College in Collegeville. The museum owes its prominence in the field to a 5,000-object collection of Pennsylvania German artifacts and the Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Culture card file, 120,000 entries dealing with a variety of folklife subjects.
February 24, 1995 |
"Material Culture," Berrisford Boothe's installation at the Fabric Workshop, draws the viewer into its embrace. You can't experience the piece fully without passing through it, and you can't do that without disturbing it. Yet the disturbance is only temporary and, after you pass, the equilibrium is quickly restored. That seems like a metaphor to me, perhaps one to guide a person through turbulent passages in life. "Material Culture" does seem to be about passing from one culture to another, but also about the commonalities of human experience that make such passages possible.
January 11, 1992 |
Anthony Garvan, 74, the president of the board of the Library Company and a former professor of American civilization at the University of Pennsylvania, died yesterday at his estate in Spring House. "Dr. Garvan had been a zealous board member, gave unstintingly of his time and energy and personal resources," said John C. Van Horne, librarian at the Library Company. "He was very devoted to the place, especially in the last few years after he retired from teaching at Penn. "He liked our eccentricity, which mirrored his own. " His was the kind of eccentricity revealed in the passion for preserving old measuring instruments, collecting old instruction manuals or keeping alive a nearly forgotten sport - foot beagling.