Sunday, December 23, 2007


Dear Friends: The Christmas message below was written many decades ago by our grandfather Vene P. Stokes, a native and lifelong resident of New Orleans. We share it with you with gratitude and humility.
Love, -Alan and Charles Rosenberg.

Vene P. Stokes
Born--1907, Born Again--1949, Died--1995

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lawrence Copeland

My next article in Silver magazine (after the March/April 2008 article on Earl Krentzin, see below) will be on silversmith/designer Lawrence Copeland who was associated with Shop One and designed for Oneida in the 1950s. Check out the excellent website about Shop One, which was one of the most important craft/design venues of the 1950s:
Vessels by Copeland shown below. Will let you know when I have a publication date.

Silver by Lawrence Copeland, circa 1955

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fontana Arte

Just came from drinks and viewing of Design (with a capital D) at Phillips de Pury. Loved this bronze table mirror by Fontana Arte. Lots of other beautiful things as well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Michelle Segre

Michelle Segre's new show at Derek Eller Gallery (, 615 West 27 Street, New York, NY) is filled with large, beautiful, outrageous, corporeal sculptures. The work is influenced by several varieties of surrealism--Pavel Tchelitchew (
Enrico Donati ( et al., as well as classic medical illustrations (Dr. Frank Netter, the Michelangelo of Medicine, and wax medical models but mainly represents the individual vision of the artist herself, who defiantly serves up something that is going to be unpalatable to some observers. Some critics will inevitably deride these sculptures as horror movie/sci-fi "surrealist kitsch" (the New York Times, in particular, seems unable to use the words surrealist and surrealism without using the word kitsch in the same paragraph)--some will love them for all the same factors . Astute observers will delight in the work's virtuoso craftsmanship, anatomical fantasy and perfect balance between haunting narrative and magnificent objectness. The artist (who I've known since 1982!) and her work shown below.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Earl Krentzin

My article on Earl Krentzin will be appearing in the March/April issue of Silver magazine. A preview is below, plus images of three pill boxes and two chests, all from 1970-71.

Much has been made in the design press of late about the blurring of boundaries between design and art. The New York Times recently declared that "design is the new art," suggesting that the decorative arts are just now getting the respect that painting has received for centuries. A recent article in Vogue Living noted that "design was once considered a shabby cousin to the art world and was kept at a disdainful distance, but now the two are becoming increasingly linked." Much of the buzz is about the affinity between the design and art of our time (meaning the last 15 minutes) and the embrace of 20th and 21st century design by collectors of contemporary art. But is it all really so new? Creators as diverse as ceramist/sculptor Peter Voulkos and painter/textile-designer Vera Neumann were obliterating the boundaries half a century ago. Earl Krentzin has been doing it with sterling silver since the mid-1950's. Krentzin's work defies the either/or categorization of art versus design and demands to be analyzed as both (although to defy and demand are not actions that one would associate with this humble and gracious artist). His functional-sculptural objects echo the relational forms and expressionistic surface of so-called "primitive" art but also carry on the tradition of virtuoso craftsmanship with precious materials conveyed in the exquisite objects of Cellini or Faberge. Krentzin's boxes, bowls, canisters and goblets are also sculptures, comprised of adorably grotesque humanoid or animalesque forms, single or grouped to tell odd little stories. The functional and material characteristics of his objects are traditionally attributed to crafts while their narrative quality is associated with the pictorial tradition of fine art. In 1968 Frank Getlein acknowledged the merging of these traditions in Krentzin's works by stating that they appeared "as if they were created by Peter Carl Faberge after designs by Hieronymous Bosch."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Leslie Winer says I'm "Incredibly Good Looking"

I'm trying not to be too self-indulgent here with my posts but I am pleasantly stunned to report that Leslie Winer remembers me and my brother Charles from the 1980s downtown/art/fashion/nightclub scene as "those incredibly good looking twins." She and Charles corresponded recently via her blog where she made that statement. You may know that Leslie Winer was one of the most important models in the 1980s, a profound beauty and a great provocatrice. A picture of her by Pierre and Gilles is below, as well as a link to her blog, plus pictures of me and Charles by Jimmy de Sana from 1989 and Amy Arbus from 1988, perhaps as Leslie Winer remembers us. Maybe I'll self-indulge some more and post my portraits by Horst, Mario Testino, David Armstrong, Timothy Greenfield Sanders, et al.
Leslie Winer by Pierre and Gilles

Amy Arbus:

Jimmy DeSana:

Friday, November 9, 2007


In further Metropolitan Opera House art-news Billy Erb's photo/multimedia exhibition "Chandler/Chandelier" features images of the beautiful Chandler Moss AND the spectacular crystal chandeliers in the opera house. Some of the other images in the show include Lady Kier in magnificent profile and the giant diamond-light-sculptures that adorn the exterior of the New York State Theater, across the plaza from the opera house at Lincoln Center (image below). The opera house chandeliers were designed by Hans Harald Rath and made by Lobmeyr of Austria. They were described in the 1966 opera house guide (see also my 1 November post):

As far as is known, crystal has never been used in such quantity for the purpose of illumination as may be seen in the radiant chandeliers of the auditorium and Grand Lobby. Suspended from the white dome of the auditorium are a central chandelier nearly seventeen feet in diameter and eight other starbursts of various sizes. On the circumference of the ceiling are twelve satellite clusters, . . . Each chandelier contains a black core from which golden beams cast their glow: some of these bear lamps, others are embellished by massive pieces of crystal and scores of crystal pearls.

Info on Billy Erb and his exhibition at:

from "Chandler/Chandelier" by Billy Erb

Installation view, Billy Erb

Last Day For LUXURY

Tommorow, Saturday 10 November, is the last day to see LUXURY, the permanent collection installation at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. A new selection of pieces from the permanent collection, organized around the theme of EXOTICISM will open on 27 November. If you can't make it tommorow you can still see an online version of LUXURY at:
Also currently on view at the Museum at FIT is "Chic Chicago" a magnificent display of fashion from the collection of the Chicago History Museum, until 5 January 2008:

Two ensembles by Norman Norell, in "Luxury," at the Museum at FIT

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Metropolitan Opera

There's a really outstanding contemporary art exhibition in the gallery at the Metropolitan Opera house here in New York. On view are works on paper, collage and mixed media by Guillermo Kuitca:
The works display a perfect balance between aesthetics and concept. Coincidentally I just came across a copy of the "Official Guide Book" to the opera house that was published when the building was completed in 1966-67. The descriptions of the design and lavish materials used are really interesting: bianco de nieve, travertine and cremo marble; 23K gold leaf; silk velvet handrails supported by posts of crystal balls on polished bronze; book-matched teak paneling, etc. There is a photograph (below) of the Eleanor Belmont Room, a sort-of VIP lounge, named after the founder of the Opera Guild. The room was designed by Billy Baldwin and has glazed pearwood walls, a portrait of Mrs. Belmont by Simon Elwes and . . . well the picture says it all. The guide book describes, but does not illustrate the Opera Club (a private dining room) designed by Angelo Donghia and the executive offices designed by Mario Buatta. Maybe someone out there can let me know whether these (now historic) interiors are still intact. On a personal note, my uncle, Philip Rosenberg, the well-known film production designer, began his career as an assistant to Eugene Berman designing sets at the Met. Berman also got him a job assisting Marcel Vertes on his murals at the Cafe Carlyle. On another personal note, I spent alot of time at Lincoln Center as a child attending the Little People's concerts. I'm not sure that the music had such a big influence on me but the modern architecture and luxurious ambiance had a very strong impact on my sensibility.

Eleanor Belmont Room, Metropolitan Opera House, New York

Allison Malinsky

Take a look at the delightful paintings by Allison Malinsky. She has been loitering in the lobbies of hotels like the Carlyle and the Pierre here in New York and her observations are reflected in these oil on linen interpretations. Opening 6 November, 6:00-8:00pm, 80 Washington Square East,

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Samuel Marx

The long-awaited book on architect/designer Samuel Marx is now available. In Ultramodern Samuel Marx: Architect, Designer, Art Collector Liz O'Brien has combined extraordinary archival photographs with a thoughtful and exhaustively researched text. The result is a magnificently produced book that is both lavish and scholarly. Marx's first major building was the 1909 New Orleans Museum of Art ( and his most visible project was the 1940 May Company department store building, now part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ( Marx was equally adept at furniture and interior design and the book documents all of his output into the 1950s including his collaborations with textile designer Dorothy Liebes and interiors designed for great art collectors such as Mary and Leigh Block. You can purchase the book directly from Liz O'Brien ( stop in to her gallery, see furniture designed by Marx and have Liz sign your copy of her book.
Ultramodern: Samuel Marx by Liz O'Brien

May Company Building

Liz O'Brien's gallery, Marx cabinet in background

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bad Design

My nominations for the worst designs of all time:

CD Jewel Case:
The case cracks and the hinges break on your first attempt to open it.

Ear Buds:
"fit comfortably in your ears and sound great"???--they don't sound too great to everyone within 20 feet of you on the subway or bus!

Miss Blanche by Shiro Kuramata:
Only because it is totally overrated; I was around in 1988 when it appeared and at that time it was trivial and irrelevant: somehow it has become an "icon of design"?? (apologies to Agnes Gund and Patricia Cisneros, two great ladies and true "icons" of art)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More LA

Coverage in Los Angeles Magazine of their Style issue party, hosted by the fabulous Laurie Pike, LAMag Style Director. Photo bottom center shows me, right, Laurie, center and my twin brother Charles, left.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is Hicks All there Is?

I find it really tiresome that so many design bloggers, interior designers, design editors and design "gurus" cite David Hicks as their favorite interior designer and greatest influence. I love David Hicks' work--he was one of the most brilliant and important interior designers of the 20th century--but at this point proclaiming David Hicks as your primary inspiration is not exactly the most original citation. I wonder if any of these people know anything about some of the other 20th century decorating greats. My favorites?:

Serge Royaux:

Georges Geoffroy:

Michael Greer:

Ward Bennett:
. . . more coming soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Museum of California Design

Please visit the site of the wonderful Museum of California Design:
MOCAD just just hosted their annual award benefit event at the Los Angeles home of architect Steve Erlich, with honors going to the legendary Heath Ceramics . Check out the pics of the cool crowd of MOCAD supporters below:

Sexy Gerard O'Brien of Reform ( and brilliant Bill Stern of Mocad:

Wendy Kaplan, Curator of Decorative Arts Los Angeles County Museum of Art (

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Los Angeles

I just returned from a trip to Los Angeles to see my brother Charles, visit museums, see friends, etc. We also drove down to San Diego for a two day visit for more museums, gardens and to see old friend Joanna Seetoo. One highlight of LA was our expedition to Compton to see the Abbey Memorial Park, a historic cemetery composed of several 1920s Moorish style mausoleum buildings. The pictures pretty much give you an idea of the amazing atmosphere (sorry, the photo of the incredible columbarium is a bit blurry).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Frederick Miller, 1913-2000

My article on silversmith Frederick Miller appears in the July/August issue of Silver Magazine ( An excerpt is below. If you'de like a photocopy of the article please let me know, -Alan.

. . . A 1953 American Artist magazine article by fellow Cleveland craftsman Edward Winter explained that, through his mastery of the stretching technique, Miller “learned to free design from the conventional round and rectangular shapes and to develop free forms that seemed to him better suited to the contemporary mode.”10 Miller himself stated that “silver, when you work it, seems almost human, as if it understood you and tried to help.”11 Miller’s analogy of sapience was reflected in the anthropomorphism of his asymmetrical bowls, raised on pointed ebony or ivory legs, suggestive of crouching beings stalking their prey.. . . Critics and curators concurred that Miller’s studio creations were exceptional. William Milliken, who purchased a number of Miller’s pieces for the Cleveland Museum of Art, described his work in 1956 as “superlative in its workmanship . . . emphasizing perfection of form for their quality and effect,” adding that his pieces were “completely contemporary in approach.” . . .

Victoriana 1930

My article "Victoriana 1930"--on the Victorian revival in 1930s interior design--was published in the Spring 2007 issue of Nineteenth Century, the magazine of the Victorian Society in America ( An excerpt from the article is below. If you'd like a copy of the complete article let me know, -Alan.
In 1930, with art deco lingering and the modernist aesthetic of the Bauhaus spreading, Martha Fischer wrote, in the magazine House Beautiful, that "we all know, by this time, that in the matter of decoration the Victorian style is lifting its head from the bog of obloquy to which it had been consigned these many years." A Victorian revival was, indeed, stirring amongst avant-garde tastemakers who just a few years earlier were devotees of the geometric deco aesthetic or the clinical chrome, glass and plain white walls of modernism. For these cutting-edge trend-setters Victoriana was so far out that it was suddenly in.
A pronounced neo-Victorian aesthetic was soon also championed by more conventional interior decorators and adopted even by ordinary homemakers, or at least those who had a subscription to House Beautiful or House and Garden and followed those magazines’ directives.The Victorian revival that developed in the 1930s was not simply an aesthetic reversion to the past or an attempt to recreate historically accurate period décor for accuracy's sake. For the fashionable style-setters, the re‑presentation of mid‑19th century style was an explicit challenge to the modernist machine aesthetic. The challenge was made through the placement of the most fantastic Victorian design elements within a modernist architectural envelope, achieving an apparently irrational juxtaposition that revealed a surrealist undercurrent in interior design.
. . .

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Rita Pavone--My Name is Potato

This is brilliant:
Check out the rest of my favorites on youtube too:

Architecture and Genealogy in France

This really interesting website is all about the late 19th and early 20th century villas in the Ubaye valley in France. They were built by families who had become wealthy after emigrating to New Orleans and Latin America. My brother says that these are the McMansions of the turn-of-the-century but I think they're beautiful. Among those who emigrated to New Orleans was Marius Jaubert, my great-great grandafther. Les Charmettes (shown in the phot here), a lovely art nouveau villa, was built by a member of the Jaubert family and I am also related to many of the other families mentioned on the site (Signoret, Reyne, Auddifred)

Carlyle Brown

I participated in the development of the website (link below) devoted to the artist Carlyle Brown (1919-1963). Brown began his career as a protégé of Pavel Tchelitchew. His paintings were collected by influential style-setters such as Millicent Rogers, Van Day Truex, Baron Alexis de Rede, Antonio del Castillo and Edward James.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Alan Rosenberg

Alan Rosenberg is a historian, consultant and journalist in the field of 20th century art and design. In his role as a design historian he writes frequently and his articles have been published recently in Nineteenth Century and in Silver Magazine.

In 1999 Alan Rosenberg curated Eugene Berman, a Centennial Perspective at Alan Moss, New York. Since that exhibition the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX, has presented a landmark retrospective of the artist's work (Spring 2005). In 2000 Rosenberg curated Jan Yoors, Tapestries, 1970-1977 at Icon20, New York, the first significant exhibition of Yoors' work in more than 20 years. The Yoors exhibition was documented in feature articles in Wallpaper and Elle Décor magazines.

Alan Rosenberg has contributed essays and articles to a number of publications including The Saint James Encyclopedia of Fashion, Contemporary Designers, Who Was Who in American Art, Modernism magazine, Distinction magazine and Echoes magazine. His ongoing series of articles on 20th century American silversmiths in Silver magazine has generated interest and praise amongst both silver collectors and modern design enthusiasts. His articles in Modernism, on modern American silver and on enamel craft and design are regarded as important references on their subjects. "Alluring Enamels" (Modernism, Spring 2003) was the first article to extensively discuss the work of Annemarie Davidson, whose enamel designs of the 1950's and '60's were subsequently the subject of a retrospective at the Long Beach Museum of Art in 2004.

Rosenberg has lectured at the Cooper Hewitt-National Design Museum, the Atlanta History Center, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture.

Alan Rosenberg holds a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies/History of Applied Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Hunter College and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fashion Design, also from FIT. In 1995 he was a Research Fellow at the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art.