William Barriss Martin - Design New York Tuesday, December 15, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Henry and Patricia Beck, Dallas
    Private collection, Dallas, acquired directly from the above

  • Literature

    Frank D. Welch, Philip Johnson & Texas, Austin, 1999, illustrated p. 116

  • Catalogue Essay

    William Barriss Martin studied chemical engineering at the Case Institute of Technology before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he pursued a degree in industrial engineering at Ohio State University. Engineering soon bored him, however, and he finally pursued his longtime passion for art and enrolled at the Boston Museum School. Nevertheless, Martin’s engineering background served his interest in industrial design and he soon found work collaborating with architects and interior designers on custom lighting installations.

    Martin did not electrically wire his installations, but rather illuminated them by mounting high-intensity lights on the ceilings above. The present lot may have been illuminated in the same way, when it was installed in the Henry and Patricia Beck House, designed by Philip Johnson, in Dallas, Texas.

    Martin believed in making art accessible to everyone, and in 1956 he wrote, “Art must be an accepted part of everyone’s environment where it can teach and lend beauty and pleasure to everyday life.” Indeed, much of his work can be found in public spaces such as the Colorado Springs Airport and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

Property from a Private American Collection


Lot offered with No Reserve

Untitled sculpture from Philip Johnson's Beck House, Dallas

circa 1964
Patinated brass, glass.
Largest: 34 in. (86.4 cm) drop; 58 in. (147.3 cm) diameter
Comprising three hanging elements.

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $2,500

Contact Specialist
Design New York
+1 212 940 1266


New York Auction 15 December 2015 1pm