At the Luss House
Object & Thing, Blum & Poe and Mendes Wood DM
Some white-cube gallery exhibitions trigger the thought, ‘That would be perfect above the mantle in my dream house.’ In Ossining, New York, the house Gerald Luss—the architect best known for the interiors of the 1955 Time-Life Building—built for his family in 1952, is transformed into an exhibition of contemporary art that fits seamlessly into the mid-century modern haven, forever ruining visitors’ realistic home design aspirations. "At The Luss House" is the second iteration of a collaboration between Blum & Poe, Mendes Wood DM, and Object & Thing, following their fall show at The Eliot Noyes House in New Canaan, Connecticut. While Noyes passed decades ago, Luss at 93 says: “It’s satisfying to see new generations of artists and designers bring their contemporary perspective into the space,” in a statement accompanying the multifaceted exhibition. “I find it essential not only to create work daily, but to also live among the objects and work of other artists, expanding my vision of the world.”
The artists presented throughout the Luss House are fond of the relationship between the manmade and the natural occurring phenomena. Frances Palmer’s porcelain vases drip with ash and oxblood glazes, their patterns determined by the whim of the kiln. The artist makes arrangements weekly with flowers from her property. The dining table is set with black bowls and mezcal cups by artist Johnny Ortiz, molded from micaceous clay in his local New Mexico and fired with cedar when there is a full moon. Ortiz’s vessels fit alongside aluminum works that function as furniture by Green River Project—the modernist design studio responsible for furnishing downtown restaurant Dr. Clark and Bode’s flagship boutique. While the designers are contemporarily hip, their sculptural chair legs provide a stark contrast under the home’s original wood paneled ceilings—the lasting appeal of mid-century modern's distinct shape, line, and placement.
The contemporary art objects are displayed so that every room remains functional as a place to live. Tiny pots by Ritsue Mishima—who imbues traditional Venetian glass blowing with a minimalist sensibility—are especially enviable in a bathroom with a pink-tiled sunken tub. The primary floor is intended to be experienced without artificial light sources, so the fleshy Cecily Brown's Reasons to Be Cheerful, (2020-21) are transformed by the sun’s shift from dawn and dusk. Luss built a circular skylight that acts as the light source across the parlor wall, an in situ as an art object in-and-of itself paired with a small, highly textured oil painting by the young Brazilian artist Lucas Arruda. Light also acts as an artist in the master bedroom, with Kiva Motnyk’s linen and silk tapestry mimicking stained glass. Eddie Martinez’s spray-painted abstract Ideal Location (2021) brightens the basement studio, which is outfitted with harsh ceiling lights from the U.N. building; while glue drips from Kishio Suga’s imperfect geometric wood pieces. As a member of the Japanese mono-ha (“school of things”) movement, the materiality-minded Suga would be pleased.
There are additional Suga works in the garden, past a Malm fire pit and an installation of concrete soccer balls pierced with knives by Paulo Nazareth are suggestive of phantom croquet. For Dispersed Spaces (2015), Suga stretched fishing rods between concrete slabs, creating arches through the sky that will be dark over the Hudson River, on the eventual train ride home. The Luss House itself is a symbol of the corporate commuter lifestyle—the show Mad Men was filmed inside Luss’ Time-Life Building in New York City and the fictional Don Draper coincidentally lived in Ossining—unlike this reinterpretation of it, one where interior and exterior environments, as well as past and present design values, coexist. —Greta Rainbow
At The Luss House: Blum & Poe, Mendes Wood DM and Object & Thing. The Gerald Luss House, Ossining, New York. Photo by Michael Biondo.
Insert: At The Luss House: Blum & Poe, Mendes Wood DM and Object & Thing. The Gerald Luss House, Ossining, New York. Photo by Michael Biondo. Works pictured [left to right on wall]: Lucas Arruda, Untitled (from the Deserto- Modelo series) (2020); Matt Connors, Short Tom (Tuned) (2012); [foreground]: Green River Project LLC, Aluminum Round Table and Aluminum Chair (2021); micaceous clay vessels by Johnny Ortiz (2021); glass vessels by Ritsue Mishima (2007-2012); [background]: Ritsue Mishima, Lemuria (2018); Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Systemic Grid 124 (Window) (2019); Green River Project LLC, Aluminum and Leather Lounge Chair (2021). Photo by Michael Biondo.