PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston May 2023

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discovered the living room's black-leather cube tables by Mario Bellini at auction, along with remarkable 1940s fringed red velvet chairs and sofa, which arrived in pristine condition despite their age. Fitzsimmons, who turned 32 in April, is passionate about Italian Radical Design, an avant-garde architecture and design movement during the '60s and '70s that proposed a new way of living through radically different concepts for housing, furnishings, and even city planning. He first discovered the movement in college and now has a collection of furniture and decorative objects by the era's most iconic designers, including Gaetano Pesce and Gae Aulenti. The couple's dining table is a rare early design by Ettore Sottsass, founder of the 1980s Memphis Milano group of Italian artists who took inspiration from Radical Design. Memphis' colorful, geometric forms — sometimes made from laminate or plastic — were often misunderstood and dismissed but are now highly collectible. Radical Design and Memphis "challenged longstanding European ideas of taste and aesthetics," Fitzsimmons says. "We like the fact that it's rebellious. That's how we are, and we recognize that in others." Outsiders The couple's art collection focuses on works by queer and marginalized artists whose themes are often visually arresting. "We love to challenge ourselves and our guests by displaying difficult art and objects in an extreme way that sparks discourse," Fitzsimmons says. The conversation starts the minute you walk in the door. On a shelf in the foyer, there's an ensemble piece by late artist Terry Adkins, whose works are included in the permanent collection at MoMA. Titled Naples, the work features a fierce monkey — mouth wide open in a scream, teeth bared — placed next to a decorative stand with bells. "It's jarring to see a piece of art like that in the entry, but we specifically put it there to introduce our aesthetic to everyone who walks in," Fitzsimmons says. Adkins' pairings are made from found objects and often reference racial history — in this case, the artist is paying homage to his father who, as a soldier stationed in Naples during WWII, was chided as a "monkey" because of his skin color. The bells reference white abolitionist John Brown, who rang a bell tower to incite a slave rebellion preceding the American Civil War. On a nearby wall are two self- portraits by Laura Aguilar, a pioneering Chicana and queer artist in L.A. who died in 2018. In this 1990s series, Aguilar, a large-bodied woman, photographed herself naked in aspects of a desert landscape that mirrored her own form. "It's a way of situating yourself with the rest of Opposite page: In the dining room, a Memphis table by Ettore Sottsass and Hans Wegner chairs. Photo-based artwork by Todd Gray. Kayode Ojo chandelier sculpture. On a shelf in the entry is an ensemble sculpture by Terry Adkins. Floor vessel by Gaetano Pesce. Laura Aguilar self-portraits. Antique table holds a sculpture by Philadelphia Wireman and Elsa Peretti dish. 53

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