An ode to the luminous life of a quintessential New Yorker. Vito Giallo, 91 year old artist, illustrator and antiques dealer, was Andy Warhol’s first apprentice and the first to give Warhol a show in 1954. Vito's antiques shop across from the Carlyle at 966 Madison Avenue was a destination for Mark Rothko, André Leon Talley, Greta Garbo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jackie Kennedy, and Andy - who visited every day.
Presented here are small objects from Vito's personal collection, selected by Vito and Catbird, to represent things we love such as the soft shine of silver, white bed linens, weird greens, shells, funny fish, wonderful spoons, and homes for our hearts.
My story is about the objects that surround me and the people who no longer do. I'll start by telling you about both. I'm sitting at my round worktable holding a catalogue reproduction and bill of sale for small watercolor painting that, to the naked eye, looks like a crude composition done by an amateur painter. In its simple scene, people mill about in a cafe, socializing, eating and making themselves known. A woman with penetrating eyes is looking directly at the viewer, over the shoulder of the sailor with whom she's dancing.
When I first found it in the early 1970s, in a tiny church-turned-antique store in Connecticut, I thought it was a quaint painting worth maybe seven dollars. My friend with me, Trudy, the daughter of my early antique-store partner, Mrs. Randolph, fell in love with the picture. She cradled it in her hands with such care and appreciation for the work and the feeling of its story, without hesitation, I bought it and gave it to Trudy.
For me, as it was for her that day, the value of an antique is determined as much in the mysterious power of its personal appeal as by the quantifiable details of its provenance. The joy of Trudy's expression made the painting worth whatever its cost.
It's tales like this one that led me to love and devote my life to the antique business. I didn't care as much about the financial bottom line as I did the people I met, worked with, and befriended. Practically, the monetary value of an item was important to me. After all, I did spend my days selling pieces to customers. But it all starts with the story of a piece and why it has the worth it does. Trudy fell in love with that painting because of the qualities she saw within it that provided her with pleasure. Without someone to appreciate it, an object has no reason for being. That, to me, is the true meaning of being an antique dealer.
— from Vito's forthcoming memoir
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