Some of the most memorable New York City private residences make an instant statement, unleashing a pop of visual wow as soon as you’re in the door. Others are more discreet, revealing their allure subtly and slowly as you move through them. Then there are those, considerably rarer, that do both.
Perched atop a 1928 Rosario Candela building on one of the Upper East Side’s most elegant blocks is a duplex penthouse that’s had just four owners in its nine-decade history. The latest, a French-American woman who comes from a distinguished art-collecting family, was looking to create a refuge where she could live with her trove of important contemporary art and entertain comfortably—in a setting, it must be said, of supreme artisanal refinement.
An elevated, art-centric tone is set immediately in the private residence’s impressive double-height entrance hall, a gallery-like corridor softly illuminated by a skylight overhead.
Guests inevitably find themselves drawn through a pair of steel-clad doors—featuring a cutout pattern inspired by the famous doors at the Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan—and into the spectacular living room.
The owners of this private residence collaborated closely with interior designer Christine van Deusen, rounding out the all-woman team. “There’s a lot of female energy in this apartment,” says Van Deusen, noting the central placement of an exuberant Joan Mitchell painting in the living room, opposite works by Andy Warhol, Pierre Soulages, and Barbara Hepworth. For the room’s decor, she deployed an array of bespoke creations, from exquisite cabinets clad in glazed lava stone by Christophe Côme and a massive cracked-bronze cocktail table by the studio Based Upon to a mosaic-pattern églomisé-mirror fireplace surround by glass artist Kiko Lopez.
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Contemporary art was always at the center of their thinking. The owner had inherited from her family a significant group of French Postimpressionist and Fauve works, and the decision was made to create a jewellike den where they could be displayed together.
In addition to the art from her family, the client was building her own collection, spanning from prime examples of Abstract Expressionism to major contemporary works. It’s a range that is represented quite dramatically in the dining room, where two of her earliest acquisitions—a slashing, moody 1950s Franz Kline canvas and a Damien Hirst mirrored cabinet lined with rows of sparkling cubic zirconias—hang opposite one another, while one of De Kooning’s effervescent late abstractions commands the third wall.
The sense of artistry and craftsmanship comes across throughout the private residence. To name a few: the multiple commissioned pieces by Côme, the dining room’s parquet oak floors that were harvested from a single 300-year-old tree at the end of its life, and the cashmere covering one of the bedroom’s walls.
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