Ahead of Rago's September 22-23 Design Auctions, they sat down with Suzanne Perrault, the Co-Director of their Design Department, to get to know a little bit about one of her favorite pieces in the sale: "Battuto Pool Balls" by artist Richard Marquis.
- When did you first become aware of Richard Marquis?
Our first professional experience with Marquis’ work involved selling several of the “Noble Effort” pieces Marquis made with Ro Purser in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They were very pretty, simple shapes with murrines (cross-cut pieces of glass) blown into the surface. I didn’t realize back then what an eager market there would be for his work.
- What do you find special/unique/exceptional about him and his creations?
A couple of things, actually. I appreciate his quirkiness and sense of humor, and his use of repeated motifs in his creations. That’s something he does in his daily life, too; he arranges similar objects into rows - like his motorcycle collection!
- Marquis describes his work as ‘contemporary folk art.’ Do you agree with this self-assessment? Why or why not?
Absolutely. Unlike other artists working in glass and making vessel forms, Marquis presents an almost bohemian, off-the-cuff design aesthetic. He often works in classical Murano techniques with blown glass forms made of murrine, granulare, latticino, and zanfirico; but with folky, American patterns of quilts, checker plaids, and silhouetted animals worked in. While he has focused primarily on teapot forms, he also makes sculptures that combine blown glass and found objects, such as bird cages, anvils and shadowboxes.
- What about this piece makes it resonate so strongly for you?
This piece is a wink to his collectors, and I love that. He’s taken objects which are MEANT to be banged against each other and cut them in battuto, the cold-work finishing texture, to give the impression of fragility. The observer is led to assume that these components are made of glass and require careful display, when they’re actually made from vintage pool balls.
- Among the first American studio glass artist to work in a Venetian glass factory, Marquis is best known for his work in the realm of art glass. How uncommon is it to find a piece by Marquis that, like this one, does not present a single glass element?
While Marquis often incorporates found objects in his work, I don’t think we’ve ever offered one that had no glass whatsoever. Despite this, I wanted to present this piece in the context of our Contemporary Glass sale, because that is the realm in which he is best known. But this work would have been just as ‘at home’ in our Modern Design segment.
- Anything else you’d like to add?
I am intrigued to see how this sells and to whom. This piece presents many cross-collecting possibilities.
Suzanne Perrault heads cataloguing at Rago Arts and Auction Center and co-directs its department of 20th/21st C. Design. She and David Rago are also private dealers of 20th/21st C. Design, receiving clients by appointment. She is an author who lectures nationally and an expert appraiser for the hit PBS series, Antiques Roadshow, where she specializes in decorative ceramics and porcelain.
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