Frieze Viewing Room 2021
May 5–14, 2021
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Distinctive/Instinctive: Postwar Abstract Painting
Claire Falkenstein masterpiece inspires luxury silk fabric from Venetian textile firm Rubelli
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is pleased to celebrate a unique collaboration between textile firm Rubelli and the Estate of Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997), represented by Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.
This week, Rubelli, a Venetian textile firm known for its superior materials and exceptional design, is releasing Beyond, a new luxury silk lampas inspired by the Claire Falkenstein masterpiece Entrance Gates to the Palazzo (1961) at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
In 1960, Falkenstein was commissioned by art patron and collector Peggy Guggenheim to design and execute the entrance gates to her residence. The iconic and historically significant gates have welcomed museum visitors for decades at the entrance to the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, now the site of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. With their magnificent jewel-like clusters of Murano glass fused to iron webbing, the gates exemplify Falkenstein’s signature style and reflect the craft of glass, long associated with the city of Venice. The gates embody on a large scale Falkenstein’s concept of the “never-ending screen,” a sculptural approach inspired by infinity and the potential of endless expansion that she developed and deployed throughout her career. Falkenstein intended the work to convey an open flow with movement, stating, “[...] If I can reach through and touch the other side, if I may look through and focus beyond, my feeling verifies the idea that motion is space”. The gates remain Falkenstein’s most famous commission.
Established in 1889, the historic Venetian company Rubelli creates, produces and sells furnishing products for both residential and contract use. Emblematic of the extraordinary expertise of Italian fabric designers, and with the use of their own mill in Como, Rubelli is able to monitor all phases of the production process. The company also owns a comprehensive historical archive holding over 7,000 textile documents, an invaluable source of inspiration for new collections and special projects. Rubelli has showrooms in Venice, Milan, Rome, Paris, London, Moscow and Dubai, and in ten US cities. Their products are available via an extensive distribution network in over eighty-five countries.
With links to the world of culture and the arts from the outset, Rubelli supports museums and young designers, organizes exhibitions and periodically promotes events in Italy and elsewhere. The company has had a long-term collaboration and friendship with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, participating in the Guggenheim Intrapresæ corporate membership project since 2002. Rubelli dedicates Beyond to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection—one of Italy’s most important institutions dedicated to European and American art of the twentieth century—and commits to contribute a portion of the proceeds from its sale to the cherished museum which has suffered significant losses due to the long closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Left: Beyond silk fabric, part of Rubelli's 2021 textile collection Di Varia Natura; © 2021 Rubelli Spa
Right: Claire Falkenstein, Entrance Gates to the Palazzo, 1961, iron and colored glass, two elements: 109 x 71 3/8 inches / 277 x 181.2 cm overall; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York); Image: © Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Photographer Matteo De Fina
About Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
A pioneering avant-garde sculptor and painter exploring the currents of cubism and surrealism in such varied materials as ceramic, wood and metal, Claire Falkenstein was born in Coos Bay, Oregon in 1908. As a young artist, she became interested in science, exploring notions of implied motion and spatial relationships in her increasingly abstract sculpture. She swiftly became an active and important member of the San Francisco art world and in 1950, moved to Paris, where she developed the unique structural vocabulary for which she is known. While in Europe, she created some of her most significant works, including sculptures of welded wire that revealed her fascination with the sculptural qualities of open and negative space. Falkenstein exhibited extensively throughout Europe, championed by the influential critic Michel Tapié and represented by the prominent Galerie Stadler. During the 1950s she periodically rented a studio in Venice—among other cities including London, Barcelona, Rome and Milan—and would continue to visit Murano over the years to obtain glass for her sculptures. After returning to California in 1960, represented by Martha Jackson Gallery in New York, she completed numerous public commissions around the world including the gates for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy. After her death in 1997, The Falkenstein Foundation was created to preserve her legacy.
In 2016, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection mounted Omaggio a / Homage to Claire Falkenstein and the Pasadena Museum of California Art organized the traveling retrospective Beyond Sculpture. That same year, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery mounted a solo exhibition focused on a selection of Falkenstein’s work and in 2018, presented Claire Falkenstein: Matter in Motion, on view concurrently with Claire Falkenstein: Time Elements at the University at Buffalo Anderson Gallery. Her work was recently included in “Four Paintings Looking Right,” curated by Richard Prince for the exhibition Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2019) and is currently on view in the traveling exhibition United States of Abstraction: American Artists in France, 1946-1964 at Musée d’Arts de Nantes in France. Falkenstein’s diverse body of artwork is currently represented in public collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago (IL); Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA); Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA); Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY); Tate Modern (London, England); and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY).
Since 2014, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery has been the exclusive representative of The Falkenstein Foundation.
For more information on Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997), click here.
 Claire Falkenstein, quoted in Luca Massimo Barbero, "Falkenstein" in Omaggio a / Homage to Claire Falkenstein, exhibition catalogue (Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection, 2016), 11
Left: Beyond silk fabric on Pila–47, an original all-textile armchair created exclusively for Rubelli by the young designers Nava + Arosio; © 2021 Rubelli Spa
Right: Detail views of Claire Falkenstein, Entrance Gates to the Palazzo, 1961, iron and colored glass, two elements: 109 x 71 3/8 inches / 277 x 181.2 cm overall; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York); Image: © Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Photographer Matteo De Fina