Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Connective tissue


If this week turns out to be completely in memoriam don't be surprised or disappointed. As mentioned in yesterday's post, last week's conversation with Will and Jennifer has set me off on a path looking at those decorators who died, many of them of AIDS, in the 1980s and early 1990s - the connective tissue, as it were, between the generation of Albert Hadley, Mrs Henry Parish, Billy Baldwin, et al, and the generation working today.

Before their early deaths, they were highly regarded and feted as the best of their generation (see yesterday's post) and Gary Hager was one of them. Apprenticed at Parish-Hadley, as were many who survived in a comfortable middle age, Gary Hager alas did not survive to grow into the kind of maturity demonstrated, for example, by David Kleinberg, another Parish-Hadley alumnus.

AIDS was the red line drawn through late 20th century history; a line marking of the beginning of a catastrophe of immense proportions, and many did not cross that line. The loss to our industry and to society at large is immeasurable and if we are to see our profession as having some sociological significance, then those designers are a forgotten generation whose importance needs to be recognized. They are forgotten in the sense that their work is recorded in the interior design magazines and books of the late 20th century yet their lives and their passing, at best, is to be found in scattered obituaries, but the history that includes them is still to be written.

Photos by George Chinsee, from Manhattan Style, John Esten & Rose Bennett Gilbert, Little, Brown & Company, 1990.

9 comments:

  1. If you'll do it, I'll buy it.

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  2. There were moments in the 80's that it seemed that every day another talent was lost. Thanks for this post.

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  3. so pleased to be reading this post. please, please do continue with it. i can't wait to read about those who have been forgotten, buried in history and for you to make their spirit and work alive once more.

    and i know you have the most talented karl springer (d. 1991) on your list....

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  4. I concur with HOBAC. Talent is such a special gift. It deserves to be remembered with grace.

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  5. Gary was a super guy and natural talent. He came to the offices of PH as the driver and slowly he became a decorartor.... what could be more natural.
    PH lost many of its poeple: Hager, Casati, Alexander and Yoh.. these are just the names I know.

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  6. Anonymous, thank you. I have hit a barrier in my search for names of those designers who died in the 80s and 90s - at least, the names of those who died too young to really become the celebrities that Michael Taylor, Angelo Donghia etc became before they died. What I have access to is limited so I'm grateful for the surnames and I shall seek what I can about them.

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  7. By far the most talented of the assistants at Paris-Hadley in the 80s was Tice Alexander. Sadly, very little of his work was photographed as that was not a priority of the firm. That includes one of the most stylish apartment renovations of the 80s, for Ann & Gordon Getty at 820 Fifth Av for which Tice was the assistant to Albert Hadley but a valuable team contributor.

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  8. You make an eloquent point about a lost generation of talented designers and the fact that, as yet, their stories are unwritten. I think to mention some is to honor them all.

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  9. Write down Scott Lamb, San Francisco.

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