NEW YORK - David Utterberg noticed something when he was growing up and frequenting the Art Institute of Chicago: many of the works he viewed in the museum’s collection had been donated or endowed by private collectors. This observation remained with him as he grew older, continuing to educate himself about art and design through his own exploration. When as a young man he began travelling internationally, he was fascinated and overwhelmed by the way art and design were so inextricably entwined with history – how cultures around the world were so infused with art that they were virtually indistinguishable.
A BLACK-GLAZED ‘OIL-SPOT’ BOWL, NORTHERN SONG / JIN DYNASTY. ESTIMATE $30,000–50,000.
Starting in 1973, his business took him all over the globe – from Italy to Pakistan to New Zealand to Japan – and David always made the time and effort to experience the most authentic aspects of each culture to which he was exposed. Again, he found that visiting museums and galleries were often the best means for cultivating an intimate knowledge and appreciation for the art and design of a certain culture. He passionately pursued this curiosity over the next decade as he travelled and built his business. It was around this same time that David made his first foray into collecting.
Of all the art he had encountered around the world, nothing piqued his interest quite as much as Asian works of art. David’s first acquisitions as a collector were Song ceramics. Their contemporary simplicity and Japanese aesthetic influences appealed to his artistic sensibilities. After meeting and marrying his wife Nayda, who herself had started to collect Chinese ceramics, they together embarked on a collecting journey. As their tastes matured, they expanded their collection to include Japanese and Korean paintings and works of art, classical Chinese furniture and Art Deco and French modern design, which today remains the focus of their collection.
A PAIR OF HUANGHUALI YOKEBACK ARMCHAIRS (SICHUTOU GUANMAOYI), 17TH / 18TH CENTURY. ESTIMATE $150,000–200,000.
As they thought about the home they planned to curate, it became clear to David and Nayda that the Art Deco and French modern design would fill much of the space, and Asian art would occupy the walls and horizontal surfaces. The “intelligent angularity” a term David uses to refer to design that is composed of purposeful lines and free of excessive ornament, that typified much of their modern design was echoed in the elegant proportions and simplicity of their Asian art. They found that the sensuous materials employed in Asian art and in French design – such as ceramic, stone, wood and parchment – could be integrated in a novel, sophisticated way that encouraged dialogue between all of the objects in their collection. The result was a harmonious, flowing, highly complementary interior. The innovative juxtapositions of aesthetics posed by the Utterbergs inspires contemplation and appreciation of the exquisite design and intelligent angularity of the masterworks within their collection.