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.

William Hunt Diederich

Wilhelm Hunt Diederich, born in 1884 in Hungary, was fascinated by animals from an early age. This interest was due in part to the influence of his father, a noted horseman who was killed in a hunting accident when Diederich was only three years old. Diederich remembered, he “loved animals first, last and always.” In 1894 he immigrated to the United States, settling in Boston. Eventually he became restless for the country and moved west to Wyoming to work at a horse ranch but soon after returned to study sculpting at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art. It was here that Diederich grew close to fellow sculptor Paul Manship as they both began to make work inspired by animals.

Drawing on the folk art practice of cut paper silhouettes, Diederich transformed traditional crafting methods to create dynamic sculptures in the latest Art Deco style. The classical nature of Diederich’s forms brought him critical acclaim: his Greyhounds sculpture was exhibited with much fanfare at the Paris Salon in 1913, he received the Gold Medal from the Architectural League for excellence in craftsmanship in 1921 and his work was extensively shown in New York, at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum, throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During the Great Depression, Diederich crafted many sculptures for the WPA Program, including weathervanes for the Central Park Zoo, metal works for the Bronx Zoo, and a large scale sculpture (now lost) entitled Pegasus with Messenger for the Westwood New Jersey post office. Diederich died in 1953, and his works are held in the permeant collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Smithsonian, Washington D.C. and the Whitney Museum, among many others.