The Mark Isaacson
and Greg Nacozy Collection

The Collection of Mark Isaacson and Greg Nacozy includes over two-hundred works from one of the most significant figures in mid-century collecting. Mark established the influential Fifty/50 gallery in New York in 1981 (later partnering with Mark McDonald and Ralph Cutler in 1983), which shaped the tastes and collecting habits of many and brought furniture, decorative arts and jewelry from the 1930s, 40s and 50s to the forefront of the market at a time when they were largely overlooked.
 

Greg Nacozy and Mark Isaacson in Venice, c. 1985 

Fifty/50’s and Mark’s legacy is most closely associated with bringing Italian art glass to the United States (Mark even advised the MET on their Italian glass collection) and raising the profile of mid-century furniture and American studio jewelry and ceramics; iconic examples of each are represented in this auction, including an early Rudder Stool by Isamu Noguchi, Charlotte Perriand’s and Pierre Jeanneret’s Bahut No. 2, a Gerrit Rietveld Zig-Zag chair, pottery by Edwin and Mary Scheier and Fausto Melotti, and Venini glassworks.

The most exciting aspects of this auction are the more intimate ones—the works from Mark's and Greg's personal collection that speak to Mark's eclectic taste, his boundless curiosity and sensitivity toward objects and art, and how generous he was in sharing his interests with others and letting them share with him. Standouts include several works by Robert Mapplethorpe—who was close friends with Mark, photographed several Fifty/50 catalogs and got many of the ceramics in his photographs from the gallery—the ecstatic wood construction Wild Plant by Leo Amino, a painting by Ralston Crawford of a spectacularly minimalist skyscraper façade, and photographic works by Man Ray, Edward Weston, Lynn Davis and Dorothea Lange.
 

Mark with Ed and Mary Scheier; Robert Mapplethorpe and Mark

This auction also features many works that tie together the thread of Mark’s collecting practices, going beyond the downtown New York sensibilities of the 1980s and showing the scope of eras and cultures that interested him; the sgraffito incisions on a 1940s Scheier vase echo the geometric features of a Senufo Kpeliye'e mask, the entrancing and complex shadows of a grain elevator in a photograph by Ralston Crawford contrast with the severe plainness of a New York City step-back building captured by Walker Evans, and the radical gestures of gay image making are seen in the works of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus and Robert Loughlin. One of the artists in this sale, George Dureau, a photographer from New Orleans (where Greg is also from) who greatly influenced Mapplethorpe early in his career, perhaps best captures the spirit of this collection, saying about his own work:
 

“I live a warm, involved, humanist sort of life. There are lots of people passing through it. I have exciting experiences and learn things about people. They always go into my art. I cannot have an experience and it not go into my art.”
  
Mark and a friend at Brimfield; Mark's and Greg's apartment; Mark and Greg at The Armory Show

Fifty/50 gallery reshaped the collecting market during its twelve-year existence, closing in 1993 after Mark passed away from AIDS; his partner Greg has cared for the collection since.  The Collection of Mark Isaacson and Greg Nacozy offers an opportunity to see a short but impactful life lived through an enthusiasm for art and design, one that inspired many to see and appreciate objects and live with them as fully as Mark did.

Alvar Aalto 1898–1976

Born in Kuortane, Finland, in 1898, Alvar Aalto began his formal training studying architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology. It was here that he met his future wife and collaborator, Aino Marsio who was also an architectural student in the program. The two were married in 1924. In 1929, Aalto won a competition to design a new sanatorium in Paimio for patients convalescing from tuberculosis; a total Gesamtkunstwerk, Aalto designed everything at Paimio, from the chairs to the sinks, to create a soothing and sanitary environment for the patients. In 1932, Aalto’s architectural drawings were featured in the landmark Modern Architecture: International Exhibition which was curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock and included the latest architectural innovations from around the globe. In 1935, Alvar and Aino Aalto, Nils-Gustav Hahl, and Maire Gullichsen formed the design company, Artek. In addition to a focus on practicality, the work of Artek is marked by its use of light-colored woods, organic forms, and biomorphic lines. Though, many of Aalto’s designs were imbued with playful elements like zebra prints and reindeer fur or bright pops of colored paint on the seats of his three-legged stools.

In 1936, Aalto won the Karhula-Iittala Glass Design Competition for the flowing and animated shape of his glass vase design and the following year he was invited to design the Finnish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris. His organic pavilion design won him international acclaim, and it led to a large retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1938. Later in his architectural career, Aalto would take on urban planning with his designs for the city centers of Seinäjoki and Rovaniemi in Finland. Aalto passed away in 1976, but he is renowned for his objects and buildings that combined the modernist style with an outstanding and authentic Finnish aesthetic.

Auction Results Alvar Aalto