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.
 


George Nelson & Associates

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1908, George Nelson studied architecture at Yale University, teaching for a short time before the Great Depression. In 1932, he won the Rome Prize and spent the next two years studying design in Italy. Returning to the states, Nelson sold his essays to Pencil Points and became an associate editor at Architecture Forum and Fortune magazine. After reading Nelson’s innovative book Tomorrow's House, then president of Herman Miller furniture company D.J. De Pree hired Nelson as design director. Nelson launched his first collection in 1947 and transformed the struggling company into a groundbreaking leader in the field. Nelson remained at Herman Miller until the mid-1960s, and was responsible for bringing Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard and Isamu Noguchi on board.

In 1947, Nelson opened his own design studio, George Nelson Associates, Inc. which at one time employed over seventy people. The company’s work within corporate settings revolutionized the concept of branding and elevated industrial design to new heights. Throughout his career, Nelson continued to write critically about design across multiple planes, teaching and consulting until his death in 1986.

Auction Results George Nelson & Associates

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Rare and important Marshmallow Sofa | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Rare and important Marshmallow Sofa
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $112,500

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Comprehensive Storage System | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Comprehensive Storage System
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $36,750

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Thin Edge end tables, pair | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Thin Edge end tables, pair
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $34,800

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, custom jewelry chest | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

custom jewelry chest
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $33,600

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Marshmallow Sofa | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Marshmallow Sofa
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $30,420

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Marshmallow sofa, model #5670 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Marshmallow sofa, model #5670
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $27,600

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, custom wall clock, model #2237 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

custom wall clock, model #2237
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $24,000

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, miniature chest, model #5511 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

miniature chest, model #5511
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $24,000

GEORGE NELSON, Marshmallow sofa | wright20.com

George Nelson

Marshmallow sofa
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $20,700

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Marshmallow sofa | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Marshmallow sofa
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $20,000

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Carousel weather vane | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Carousel weather vane
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $20,000

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Marshmallow sofa, model 5670 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Marshmallow sofa, model 5670
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $20,000

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Whirlygig clock, model 2268 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Whirlygig clock, model 2268
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $18,600

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, miniature cabinet | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

miniature cabinet
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $18,200

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, table clock, model 2208 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

table clock, model 2208
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $18,000

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, jewelry cabinet, model #5211 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

jewelry cabinet, model #5211
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $17,700

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Watermelon table clock, model 2219-B | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Watermelon table clock, model 2219-B
estimate: $6,000–8,000
result: $17,700

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Marshmallow sofa | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Marshmallow sofa
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $17,500

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Clocknik table clock, model 2270 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Clocknik table clock, model 2270
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $17,500

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Rare Five Leaf chairs from the 1964 New York World's Fair, pair | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Rare Five Leaf chairs from the 1964 New York World's Fair, pair
estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $17,500

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Comprehensive Storage System (CSS) | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Comprehensive Storage System (CSS)
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $16,250

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Watermelon table clock, model 2219B | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Watermelon table clock, model 2219B
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $16,250

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, chaise lounge, model #5490 | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

chaise lounge, model #5490
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $15,600

GEORGE NELSON & ASSOCIATES, Comprehensive Storage System (CSS) | wright20.com

George Nelson & Associates

Comprehensive Storage System (CSS)
estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $15,600