I'm never drawing the object itself; I'm only drawing a depiction of the object—a kind of crystallized symbol of it.

Roy Lichtenstein

The Collection of John M. Hall

John M. Hall was an architectural photographer for publications including New York Times Magazine, Elle Decor and Architectural Digest; he saw his work as "telling the story" of what architects built and his process was to "go from the overall to the the details," with a keen eye for the subtleties of line, form, light and shadow. Hall lived with art and design that reflected his refined sensibilities: simple, livable furniture by Eames, Knoll and Aalto, the clean lines and smooth surfaces of 1930s streamlined moderne lamps, china and glassware and minimalist works on paper by Robert Mangold and Richard Serra. Tucked into a small Manhattan apartment, Hall's collection shows the ease with which iconic 20th century designs were meant to be lived with.

John M. Hall photographed his apartment in the Flatiron district for an article highlighting
his collection in the June 1999 issue of House Beautiful

Hall grew up in North Carolina and studied architecture at North Carolina State University; he was also a ballet dancer and moved to New York in the mid-1970s to study at the American Ballet Theater School. In 1977, Hall relocated to Paris and worked as a model. It was during this time that he developed an interest in black and white photography. 

Thank God I missed post-modernism. I guess I'm just a classicist at heart. 
—John M. Hall

His structural, classical style was informed by photographers such as André Kertész and Walker Evans. Hall returned to New York in 1981 and began his career as an architectural photographer, with a particular interest in private gardens, Greek Revival and Biedermeier. He approached capturing these spaces as making "something that is more than just a document, [but] something that is visually exciting." 

The same is true of Hall's personal collection, with its attention to and exuberance for designs that are "clean and clear and simple as possible," while also still captivating. After Hall's passing in 2019, significant contributions from his collection were gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery and his alma mater's Gregg Museum of Art and Design; the present selection of works celebrates Hall's sophisticated and gracious eye for design.

I'm not a design historian. I'm attracted to objects because I find them interesting and, yes, beautiful. And that's where this 20th-century sensibility started for me. There's just something so right about it.

John M. Hall

An Interview with John M. Hall

An interview with Hall from the 1980s shows him on location photographing a home and sharing his philosophies on design, architecture and photography.
 


Roy Lichtenstein 1923–1997

Roy Lichtenstein is one of the originators of the Pop Art movement, famed for paintings that take kitsch and transform it into culture. Lichtenstein was born in New York City in 1923. Growing up, he took art classes at the Art Student League where he created realist paintings. Lichtenstein continued his study of art at Ohio State University but, with the advent of World War II, he enlisted in the army in 1943. Lichtenstein returned to Ohio State after the war to finish his master’s degree in studio art. While Lichtenstein was teaching art at Rutgers University, he became close with fellow artist Allen Krapow, who introduced him to Claes Oldenburg. It was during the 1960s that Lichtenstein began experimenting with what would become his signature style of taking images from comic books and newspapers and reproducing them on a large scale, calling attention to the flatness of the imagery with his Ben-Day technique of painting dots. In 1962, Lichtenstein got his first break with a one-man show at the Leo Castelli Gallery, which sold out before it opened.

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