The Wassily was so new. People had jumped on it at an exhibition to destroy it. They thought the whole world was going to end now with this furniture.

Marcel Breuer

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.

Marcel Breuer 1902–1981

Marcel Breuer’s parents encouraged their children to take interest in culture and the arts from an early age, and when the Hungarian born designer turned eighteen he secured a scholarship to the prestigious Fine Arts Academy in Vienna. Uninterested in the lengthy discussions about aesthetic tradition and eager for a more practical education, he took a job in an architectural firm. When a friend told him about a new art school in Weimar Germany called the Bauhaus, Breuer promptly enrolled. Under the guidance of director Walter Gropius, Breuer became one of six apprentices to join the furniture workshop, producing his earliest known design in 1921, the African Chair. Breuer graduated in 1924 and after a brief time in Paris, returned to the school as the head of the of the carpentry worship in 1925. Inspired by his first bicycle, Breuer began working on designs for a chair made of tubular steel. The revolutionary steel club armchair, known as the Wassily, remains one of his most well-known designs to date.

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Auction Results Marcel Breuer

MARCEL BREUER, Rare chaise lounge |

Marcel Breuer

Rare chaise lounge

estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $81,250
MARCEL BREUER, Delfi table from the Ultrarazionale collection |

Marcel Breuer

Delfi table from the Ultrarazionale collection

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $23,750
MARCEL BREUER, dining table |

Marcel Breuer

dining table

estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $15,600
MARCEL BREUER, desk for Rufus Stillman |

Marcel Breuer

desk for Rufus Stillman

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $15,000
MARCEL BREUER, desk chair from Bryn Mawr college, Pennsylvania |

Marcel Breuer

desk chair from Bryn Mawr college, Pennsylvania

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $12,500
MARCEL BREUER, furniture set for Bryn Mawr college, Philadelphia |

Marcel Breuer

furniture set for Bryn Mawr college, Philadelphia

estimate: $6,000–7,000
result: $11,400
MARCEL BREUER, Balance tapestry |

Marcel Breuer

Balance tapestry

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $11,250
MARCEL BREUER, Long chair |

Marcel Breuer

Long chair

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $10,800
MARCEL BREUER, candlesticks, pair |

Marcel Breuer

candlesticks, pair

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $9,600
MARCEL BREUER, adjustable armchair, model B7A |

Marcel Breuer

adjustable armchair, model B7A

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $9,375

Marcel Breuer


estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $9,000
MARCEL BREUER, lounge chair |

Marcel Breuer

lounge chair

estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $8,750