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.
 


Bruno Munari 1907–1998

A prolific artist, writer, inventor, architect, illustrator, and titan of design, Bruno Munari is known as one of the greatest protagonists of 20th century art, design, and graphics. Born in Milan, he spent much of his childhood and teenage years in the quaint and rural town of Badia Polesine; this exposure to both city and country life would later become fundamental in the development of his aesthetic. In 1927 at the age of 20, Munari became involved with the Futurist movement, embarking on an over seven-decade-long career which would leave an indelible imprint on the design world.

The Futurists’ focus on progress and modernity was fertile ground for the young Munari, who desired to develop new modes of visual communication. During his association with the Futurist movement, he worked as a graphic designer and an art director, began designing children’s books, and developed his Macchina aerea (Aerial Machine) and Macchine inutili (Useless Machines) both of which exhibited his unique ability to blur the lines between machines, art, and utility. Following World War II, Munari broke with the Futurists due to their proto-Fascist leanings and in 1948 he founded Movimento Arte Concreta (M.A.C.), the Italian movement for concrete art, with Gillo Dorfles, Gianni Monnet and Atanasio Soldati. Over the next decade, prior to the disbanding of M.A.C. in 1958, Munari explored kinetic art, experimented with polarized light, produced several films, and designed countless objects for Italian design companies such as Danese Milano.

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Auction Results Bruno Munari

BRUNO MUNARI, Tetracono SM | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Tetracono SM

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $16,250
BRUNO MUNARI, Nobilità (from Forchette Parlanti) | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Nobilità (from Forchette Parlanti)

estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $8,750
BRUNO MUNARI, Vieni Vieni (from Forchette Parlanti) | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Vieni Vieni (from Forchette Parlanti)

estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $8,750
BRUNO MUNARI, Vittoria (from Forchette Parlanti) | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Vittoria (from Forchette Parlanti)

estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $8,750
BRUNO MUNARI, Xerografia | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Xerografia

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $3,500
BRUNO MUNARI, Lampada Esagonale chandelier | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Lampada Esagonale chandelier

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $3,000
BRUNO MUNARI, Untitled (Sculpture) | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Untitled (Sculpture)

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $2,750
BRUNO MUNARI, Scultura da Viaggio | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Scultura da Viaggio

estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $2,750
BRUNO MUNARI, Bali lamp, model 2003B | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Bali lamp, model 2003B

estimate: $400–600
result: $2,250
BRUNO MUNARI, Scultura da Viaggio | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Scultura da Viaggio

estimate: $750–1,000
result: $2,000
BRUNO MUNARI, Portaritratti Moiré | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Portaritratti Moiré

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,950
BRUNO MUNARI, collection of twenty-nine books | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

collection of twenty-nine books

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,905
BRUNO MUNARI, floor lamp | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

floor lamp

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,905
BRUNO MUNARI, Scultura da Viaggio | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Scultura da Viaggio

estimate: $750–1,000
result: $1,875
BRUNO MUNARI, Untitled (Sculpture) | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Untitled (Sculpture)

estimate: $1,200–1,800
result: $1,690
BRUNO MUNARI, Bali lamp, model 2003B | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Bali lamp, model 2003B

estimate: $400–600
result: $1,500
BRUNO MUNARI, Scultura da Viaggio | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Scultura da Viaggio

estimate: $750–1,000
result: $1,500
BRUNO MUNARI, Falkland hanging light fixtures, set of three | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Falkland hanging light fixtures, set of three

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,250
BRUNO MUNARI, Scultura da Viaggio | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Scultura da Viaggio

estimate: $750–1,000
result: $1,250
BRUNO MUNARI, Flexy | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Flexy

estimate: $600–800
result: $1,063
BRUNO MUNARI, collection of six children's books | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

collection of six children's books

estimate: $500–700
result: $1,063
BRUNO MUNARI, Tobacco jars model 2028, pair | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Tobacco jars model 2028, pair

estimate: $700–900
result: $813
BRUNO MUNARI, Cubo ashtrays model 2000A/A, set of four | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Cubo ashtrays model 2000A/A, set of four

estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $780
BRUNO MUNARI, Polariscop | wright20.com

Bruno Munari

Polariscop

estimate: $400–600
result: $750