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Culture Concierge:

October 8, 2012

Murray Moss’s Famous Design Trove Goes on Auction Oct. 16

This Moss gathers stones…and paintings, sculpture, teapots, really cool teddy bear chairs & anything design-minded

By Nancy Staab

Novelist E. M. Forster’s famous line “Only Connect” could be the theme of this significant art auction conducted by Phillips de Pury and determined by Murray Moss’s Eclectic, Ravenous, Imaginative Eye.

Murray Moss in a Campagna teddy bear chair Murray Moss in a Campagna teddy bear chair


















After nearly 20 years, design majordomo Murray Moss has shuttered his legendary boutique, Moss, in SoHo for an art consulting biz. As a result, some of his prize pieces, from antiquity to current day, are on the auction block at Phillips de Pury & Company on Oct. 16. Moss has one of the best design eyes in the business, having been an early champion of such contemporary art stars as Marcel Wanders, Maarten Baas, Studio Job, the Campana Brothers, and Hella Jongerius—all represented in this month’s auction. But Moss’s eclectic eye roams far and wide both in disciplines and time and so the auction of his Sir John Soane-like collection also includes 17th century Italian adoration paintings and ancient busts from Greece, as well as more modern paintings, sculptures, screens, chairs, light fixtures, architectural models and objets d’art by Gio Ponti, Frank Stella, Piero Fornasetti, Alberto Giacometti, Charles and Ray Eames, Louise Nevelson and many, many more. There’s also works by Paul Cezanne; a cool, undulating black “Fly” chaise lounge (2003) composed of carbon fiber by Mark Robson; and a 1594 portrait of Maria de Medici.

What unites this ragtag group of artistic greats? Only one thing: Murray’s discerning eye that always pinpoints the best in design, composition, shape, technique, materials, and most importantly ideas. Indeed, there is a very conceptual quality to Moss’s design collection and this auction, which he has personally curated. The auction is subtitled “Dialogues Between Art and Design” and in it he has ingeniously paired the diverse objects by drawing artistic, not always obvious parallels between them. For example, a voluptuous nude painting of a reclining woman by Luciano Castelli (1982) done in almost garish primary blues, yellows and reds is compared to an equally voluptuous aubergine velvet sofa by Mattia Bonetti (2002). In the auction catalogue Moss muses “Doesn’t the velvet-skinned sofa suggest the elongated, welcoming lap of the sleeping red siren? Couldn’t each be a portrait of the other?”

Likewise, Moss finds similarities between a fuzzy chair composed of dozens of black and white stuffed panda bears by Fernando and Humberto Campana  (2006) with a black and white abstract by Henri Michaux (1959) and likens both to a Rorschach test. And the clever comparisons keep coming in the over 200-page auction catalogue. If you don’t have the cash to score the “Fly” lounge, at least sharpen your eye and wit by purchasing the auction catalogue!

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"Red Nude" by Luciano Castelli, 1982 and velvet sofa by Mattia Bonetti, 2002.


Panda Banquette by Fernando & Humberto Campana, 2006, and Panda Banquette by Fernando & Humberto Campana, 2006, and "Composition" by Henri Michaux, 1959.


18th century Italian Martydom of St. Lawrence painting & 18th century Italian Martydom of St. Lawrence painting & "Damned.MGX" light fixture & detail by Luc Merx 2007