Don S. Shoemaker at Museo de Arte Moderno 2016 vs. Museo de Arte Moderno 1975

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Cover of the 1975 MAM catalog “Exposición Retrospectiva y Prospectiva de Diseño Mexicano”Beloved Don,

After more than 20 years of hard work, in the year 1975 you finally made it to Mexico´s Modern Art Museum (MAM) with some furniture pieces in the collective exhibition “Exposición Retrospectiva y Prospectiva de Diseño Mexicano”. 41 years later they have become iconic design works and proof of a beautiful mind; at the time it was already a legacy to the world and to the handcrafted and industrial design. During the next 15 years you kept developing restlessly new designs that nowadays we know as your heritage to humankind. In 1975, the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico (MAM) was Fernando Gamboa, first historiographer in Mexico and he has also been judged by history for his impeccable work (your lives were almost parallel, you both passed away in 1990 and he was 5 years older than you, furthermore, you two shared a real passion for honest work and perfection and were pioneers in your area of expertise and most relevant, none of you were affected by a pressing need of fame). You as well as other designers were fortunate enough to work with him like your partners in this exhibition: Po Shun Leong, Genaro Alvarez, Pal Kepenyes, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Horacio Durán, etc. and many other artists through his life.

View of the exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1975

Good old days in which the IMCE (Instituto Mexicano de Comercio Exterior) and other institutions were involved in funding this type of exhibitions and the Secretaria de Educación Pública was interested in promoting the work of different artists as their final goal, and not making obscure alliances with commercial purposes like the ones we are witnessing in our times.

Unfortunately the news that I bring to you today are bad, but as you can remember since we met for the first time, the deal was to tell you the truth even when I did not like one of your sketches for a piece of furniture, jewelry or any other object.

So here we go:

MUSEO DE ARTE MODERNO 2016 “Don S. Shoemaker Diseño Artesanal e Industrial

Invitation Museo de Arte Moderno to the Don S.Shoemaker exhibition (2016)

I will try to explain as succinct as possible the development of the wrong doing of the “family”.

In my website (launched in 2010, as you know) I started to denounce forgeries, attributions and copies like the “X-Chair”, some “Diamond” desks, two “Day Bed” models, and several tables of the “Parsons Line” (the “family” and the curator do not even know that this particular design, the original one, is a table, not a desk, and that it belongs to the Parsons Line) which by the way, one of them, a relative uses as her desk and commercialized it under that category.

During the last 7 years they have been trying to remain in a comfort zone in which a lot of people know who is producing all these abject monstrosities so I had been busy consulting different auction houses, 1stdibs.com, etc. and I have tried to maintain the Don S. Shoemaker furniture market controlled and away from many other things that the “family” have been producing lately, that, of course, these pieces do not belong to the SEÑAL, S.A. catalog.

In 2014, Iñaki, curator for the Modern Art Museum (MAM) in Mexico City contacted me to ask if a small piece of wood that he called an “abstract sculpture” that carried a fake “Don S. Shoemaker” label was original. I explained to him the motifs and reasons why it was a fake and in return, he decided to contact the “family”. Of course, they authorized the piece as “an original” and there began the great expectations of both parties. The same offer that Iñaki made to me of an exhibition at the MAM, that I refused, was made now to them. Iñaki with the purpose of self-glorification becoming THE DILETTANTE curator of Don S. Shoemaker and the “family” finding a way to authenticate the trash they have been selling.

In 2015 during the month of June, the DS exhibition was announced to take place concomitant to the DESIGN WEEK MEXICO event in October 2015. I had a brief conversation with the MAM´s director and she decided to postpone the exhibition to a future date. I guess at this moment they did not have the back-up of the patrons of DESIGN WEEK, whom by the way own a furniture and interior design showroom named BLEND.

In 2016, a leak of information about the programming of a DS exhibition at the MAM concurrent with DESIGN WEEK MEXICO 2016, enlightened me of the pieces that they were already preparing to show as “DS original production”. At that very moment I decided to contact the Secretary of Culture of Mexico. I prepared more than enough evidence to proof the wrong doing of the “family”, their fakes, attributions and forgeries and unfortunately lots of furniture pieces of recent manufacture that they claimed were originals, prototypes, unique pieces, numbered pieces, signed and limited editions, and many other appellatives that in conjunction with Iñaki and his curatorial team were ready to authenticate and present at this exhibition.

So my pilgrimage started with the Director of International Affairs at the Secretaria de Cultura de México. Then the INBA Director; she set up a meeting with the Director of all Museums in Mexico, including the MAM´s director and Iñaki. By the way, I have the recordings of all the meetings in which they claimed that the field investigation performed by Iñaki was extensive, profound and conclusive, and that it was mainly focused on the immense photographic archive that the family owns and preserved in perfect condition, and supported by a far bigger archive of I do not know what, because evidently it was of no use. I told to all these people that the immense photographic archive that allegedly Iñaki´s work and research was supported by, actually was based on a shoe box that contained no more than 60 photographs, a few letters and some catalog flyers of the SEÑAL, S.A., now on display at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the museum. I coined the term “field trip investigation” to refer to the work of Iñaki. I was right!

At that moment I thought that with all the evidence that I presented, among others: letters of collectors outraged by the flood of forgeries, fakes and attributions, treasure hunters who instead of treasure witnessed the production in 2010 and 2012 of different furniture pieces (now on display at the MAM), and letters of people who bought for example the so called “X-Chairs”, claiming that they were deceived, some others from galleries that had to return the money to their clients, etc. and sustained by all the respect that I had for the Secretaria de Cultura, in my candidness, I thought that they were going to evaluate the situation and realize that after being exposed Mr. Iñaki the way I did, and after having exposed the dates, models and recent production of the “family” I was going to get a favorable verdict and that the name of Don S. Shoemaker and his legacy would have remained unspotted, far from the mud and more important, unrelated to all the felonies, lies and stupidity of Iñaki and company. Of course, the issue of the MAM´s involvement as a main player in the launching and marketing of the heir´s plagiarism designs was a main discussion theme with all the Secretaria de Cultura people and time gave me the reason. SO SAD…

So sad, because the exhibition of what was supposed to be your work opened last Wednesday October 5th with full endorsement from all the people of the Secretaria de Cultura, and to my deepest and sincere discomfort I was right, from all the furniture pieces shown at the MAM maybe there are 4 or 5 that were produced by SEÑAL, S.A. And the worst part is that with no credentials at all, the grandchildren (I do not know if you remember them, but they are the little kids that you saw time after time), using the line “my grandfather was Don S. Shoemaker”, now they made it to show some pieces with the help of Mr. Iñaki, who is far from being a reliable curator to the point in which I will quote his words:“se habló con ex trabajadores que aún viven, que trabajaron con Don que ayudaron a fechar y a deducir los tipos de madera exacta de los muebles en las fotografías”. That´s what the Secretaria de Cultura called an academic investigation!???? At least, Iñaki mentioned on the Exhibition´s Acknowledgement List the name of the only ex-worker who helped him to date and deduce from a photography the exact wood species used in the depicted piece of furniture, and by extension, of course, the newly made ones.

New desk showed at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the MAM (2016)

The X-Chair exhibited at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the Modern Art Museum, Mexico City (2016)

But guess what, today you can see an “interpretation” of Don S. Shoemaker´s Sling Chair on sale at BLEND store made by Stanley, that’s what I call appropriation! You will also find at the MAM´s DS exhibition a “desk”, the new “Sling Chair” and the “X-Chair”, as well as the “Diamond Desk” that I denounced and many pieces produced in the last 5 years that carry a description card like the one that describes the chair used for the wallpaper and the invitation to the exhibition in which you can read: “Don S. Shoemaker, Silla Años 1960 (ensamblada en 2016 con partes originales, tapizada en 2016) Granadillo. Colección Familia Shoemaker. Esta pieza fue revisada por técnicos especialistas del CENCROPAM y de la Escuela de Artesanías del INBA en Septiembre, 2016”

Depicted chair on the invitation - shown at the exhibition (2016)

I have a question for you, Mr. Iñaki: if the grandson of a novelist publishes under his name exactly the same text of one of his grandfather´s novels but written only in capitals, how would you call it, a reinterpretation or a simple and clear appropriation? Or is this one of the liberties that you can indulge yourself, that of course Mr. Fernando Gamboa would never have approved. But I have a confession to make to Mr. Iñaki: I am a little bit jealous of his exhibition because during the last 7 years, as I said, I have been unsuccessful to make this overwhelming exposé of the fakes, forgeries, attributions, etc. that you have been able to put together under the roof of the MAM. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You managed to orchestrate the perfect exposé and I give you all the credits.

P.S.: Please tell George Richard that due to his absence (how convenient), now he is being blamed for all the recent production, for example the “Salas Elefante”, sold in auction in 2010 and most of the reproductions on display at the MAM´s exhibition. Hugs and kisses for you two guys as always!

Warm Regards,

Karin

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

Careful…Keep your guard up!

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Beware of this new attribution as just found by many of my readers (sorry for the delay of response to all of you, but I am currently far from Paris) at a Vintage Furniture Fair in Mexico City:

 

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

 

W A R N I N G !!!

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Beware of these Don S. Shoemaker attributions:

 

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

The palo fierro dominoes sets from the Seri Natives

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Some time ago I published a post on Don S. Shoemaker´s dominoes sets. These game sets were made in 2 different versions: the “tronco” (organic design box) and the boxed sliding lid models; the former also had a first series with a matching wood lid and the ones produced by George with a see-thru fiberglass lid.

This time I have to bring your attention to these wonderful Mexican handcraft dominoes sets made in ironwood (“palo fierro” for the locals) by the Seri Natives in the northern state of Sonora, Mexico. The “palo fierro” handcrafts include boxes, sculptures, jewelry, etc., they are of a great artistic value and a source of income for this isolated community. So, I ask the help of all my readers to buy these look-alike dominoes sets and the other handicrafts directly from them and help also to stop the swindlers that are selling these dominoes sets as Don S. Shoemaker originals.

Take a close look at the differences between an authentic Don S. Shoemaker “tronco” dominoes box vs. the beautiful dominoes set interpretation from the Seri natives:

The Don S. Shoemaker “tronco” dominoes set:

  • Don never used ironwood (see box below)
  • The tile dots are made in silver, hollowed and sometimes engraved lines (see 2nd picture below)
  • The box always carries the decal studio label

 

 

The Seri Natives dominoes sets handcraft:

  • They use ironwood for all their handicrafts
  • The tile dots are painted in white (see picture below)
  • You may also find a “deluxe model” with plain silver dots
  • You can also engrave the name of your brother, friend, etc. for a special gift (Mercado Libre “EBAY MEXICO” search palo fierro – see ad below)
  • It is important to know that I do not endorse any of the sites advertising these handcrafts. But, the only way that I thought we could stop this new wave of alleged “Shoemaker dominoes sets” (that I have seen in galleries, auction houses and weekend flea markets going for $ 300 USD and more) is to buy directly from the producers of these sets knowing that we are not going to get a Shoemaker for $ 12 bucks but we are going to help the Seri natives in Sonora and they are going to be grateful.

 

 

Don is going to be proud of you guys because as you know, he was always involved in Charity programs.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com


A discarded prototype from George´s workshop

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George spent a lot of time experimenting with different concepts to further enhance his father´s furniture lines and produce new designs. He was an imaginative designer by his own right and he developed several prototypes, some of them would make it to production, others were discarded.

This was back in the 1990’s and my husband and I spent many hours together with George discussing the amazingly rapid technology changes that we were facing and how these could influence furniture design trends. George had been enthusiastic for some time about the idea to design a VHS storage case. However, when his raw model was almost finished he radically changed his mind after he realized: “VHS technology is not going to last forever….the key of success to my house signature is and will continue to be based on timeless designs“. So, he quickly discarded this sample and stored it away. A few weeks later when we met again he described to us with a great sense of humor the outcome of the “VHS affair”.

Surprisingly this particular discarded prototype has recently been seen in a gallery pretending to be a Don S. Shoemaker “bookcase” from the 1960’s. The pictures below clearly show that the shelves are missing and there are some rather strange dents to accommodate the “books”…

The tropical woods surface of this furniture piece is not even finished…


The upper half of a Don S. Shoemaker label is taped to the back of the “bookcase”…

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved.

@donshoemaker.com

Most underwhelming attribution to Don S. Shoemaker – part 8

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I recently discovered this odd piece of furniture attributed to Don S. Shoemaker at an auction:

  • Described as a “Parsons” side table by Don S. Shoemaker….This forged “model” has been around for some time, I have already seen several versions at weekend flea markets in Mexico City. The original Don S. Shoemaker “Parsons” line has nothing in common with this unbecoming thing! Pitifully, the forger sacrificed various original Don S. Shoemaker service trays for the parquetry on the table top. Pay attention to the irregular cube sequence patched together and compare to an original service tray as Don used the “cube design” mainly on his boxes and trays. Also check the forged label that has been taped to the bottom of the table.

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

AAD Appearances are deceptive…

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Are you prepared to buy Don S. Shoemaker originals? Let´s make a quiz…

Appearances are deceptive. That´s why you must train your eye to find the differences between the originals, the copies and  forgeries. It is like playing the cartoon of the 7 differences, but this time with the added value that you can lose a lot of money in a bad perception. This is the only weapon that we collectors have to fight forgers that are flooding the market taking advantage of our good faith.

Do not forget the MANTRA: if the piece seems odd,  if the leather is new, the wood looks new and smells like new, and carries no label or stamp or is taped, then it is a forgery or a brand new copy !

  • The Sling side table is part of the original “Sling Casuals Line” designed by Don S. Shoemaker in the 1960´s. I have included a picture of an original Sling side table from my personal collection and a picture of a brand new copy, as seen at an auction. The Sling side table was available either with a wooden top or a leather top.

Now, are you ready to identify which one is the original Sling side table and which one is the copy?

  • Another example for you to analyze. Which one is the original Don S. Shoemaker diamond desk and which one is the copy?

  • The Elephant Lounge chair: which one is the original Don S. Shoemaker and which one is the forgery?

  • This game table is the last one in our quiz. Have you decided which one is the original Don S. Shoemaker table and which one is the fake? One of them was found in a Mexican auction house and the other one in a Chicago based auction house.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Most underwhelming attribution Don S. Shoemaker – part 5

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Today I will address another Don S. Shoemaker attribution seen for auction and also in some galleries:

  • This product of a lesser mind living room set imitates the legendary “Elephant Lounge Set”, created by Don S. Shoemaker in a limited edition of 5 back in the 1960´s. The original set (as I had already described in the Special Design Lines category) comprises 2 lounge chairs and an outstanding coffee table. However, this brand  new “want to be” elephant model, forgery, includes a settee, a love-seat, a lounge chair and a coffee table.

The differences to the original Don S. Shoemaker “Elephant Lounge Set” are very obvious:

  • No elephant eyes are present (as the typical Don S. Shoemaker swinging mechanism is absent)
  • The “box seat style” with leather cushion similar to the Sling Swinger Chair was adapted, instead of the nailed leather seat with the typical decoration for each nail, the so called “leather flowers “
  • A funny 3 position mechanism was adapted, the coordination of 2 or 3 of your guests is required to go one step back or forth
  • Blue prints and a manual have to be delivered to your guests for this dangerous maneuvering
  • No curved back-rail (signature of the house) present. After 10 minutes with your back in contact with the straight rail you want to cry!
  • The table´s legs stand on 90°
  • And most important: the love-seat and the settee were never part of Don S. Shoemaker´s designs

Of course I will withhold information about some other details in order to prevent production of better imitations!

Copyright © 2010 – 2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Most underwhelming attribution to Don S. Shoemaker – part 4

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This attributed piece was found in a gallery:

  • Daybed attributed to Don Shoemaker. Another Art Deco inspiration. This brand new furniture piece is made in rosewood (“cueramo”) and black leather. A very attractive piece, and again, credit should be awarded to the lady who designed it a year ago.

So far, these are forgeries and attribution examples that I have seen lately. New discoveries will be shared here as they show up. Samples on Don S. Shoemaker brand new copies & reproductions deserve to be posted in a separate section.

You can also visit my Blog on Don S. Shoemaker Furniture at: http://donshoemaker.wordpress.com/
for continuous updates and discussions.

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

Most underwhelming attribution to Don S. Shoemaker – part 3

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These attributed pieces were found in a gallery:

  • The X-Chair, attributed to Don Shoemaker. This model never existed during the SEÑAL, S.A. production days. As long as I know who designed these chairs… He used as a model the original Don S. Shoemaker design of a small folding stool in chip-carved Brazilian walnut wood from the 1960’s. (see picture below)


  • This “Daybed” attributed to Don Shoemaker. This piece of furniture of Art Deco inspiration, I think even Don would have been surprised to see what “he produced” as he never designed any kind of daybeds!  Although it is a nice looking thing and credit should be awarded to the lady who designed it a year ago!

Copyright © 2010-2017 Karin Goyer. All Rights Reserved

@donshoemaker.com

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