Tour Larry Bentley’s Apartment and Artist’s Studio in Harlem

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Fantastic Rooms A visual diary by Style and design Editor Wendy Goodman. “I’ve taught myself how to frame,” Bentley claims, “ I primarily love to come across mid-century frames at the flea marketplace. The major piece of artwork that I have above the sofa is by an artist from Tulum, […]

“I’ve taught myself how to frame,” Bentley claims, “ I primarily love to come across mid-century frames at the flea marketplace. The major piece of artwork that I have above the sofa is by an artist from Tulum, Mexico, named Enrique Diaz.”
Picture: Courtesy of Larry Bentley

I 1st got to know Larry Bentley in the late 1990s, when he was the manager and maître d’ of the associates eating place room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I hadn’t known he was an artist himself until a short while ago. To be truthful, he hadn’t known both: He knew he could attract, but he had never ever experimented with to paint — “not even paint by numbers,” he tells me, laughing, right after I request him to send pictures of the central-Harlem just one-bedroom condominium in which he has lived for 20 decades.

Bentley grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, in which he played the violin and wanted a daily life in the arts. He examined architecture at Ohio State University right before shifting to New York Metropolis, wherever he lived in the East Village prior to Harlem.

Bentley was working at Sotheby’s as a shopper-products and services representative when the pandemic hit. “I knew that I was likely to be furloughed,” he recalls. He resolved to use his time off to teach himself to paint. “I just considered I would go to Michaels and Blick Art and get provides right after going on the web and researching the best canvas and acrylic paints and brushes. I figured if I messed up, no a person would know for the reason that I didn’t inform everyone what I was heading to be undertaking: If I mess up, I’ll just hold trying.” He’s back at Sotheby’s now.

If his colour-block abstractions have a 1950s truly feel, which is simply because he has a fascination with that era. “The inspiration for my work,” Bentley says, “comes from my like of all items mid-century contemporary and the excellent artists of that interval.”

That extends to his décor as effectively. “Most of my furniture is mid-century,” he states. “My to start with most important acquire when I moved into the apartment was the Barcelona chair and ottoman. I have generally wanted 1 for as long as I can try to remember.”

Now, typically, his eating desk is groaning less than his paint supplies — as he suggests, “My eating table hasn’t observed a dinner party in around a calendar year.” But he did just lately host an open-studio celebration at his condominium, wherever he marketed 7 of his paintings. He is also offering his operate on consignment at Belkind Bigi in Tarrytown.

“I enjoy my floor lamp by MG Wheeler and the swing-arm lamp by Walter von Nessen. The two lamps were being getting thrown out by the Met’s editorial office. They ended up most most likely there because the ’50s,” he states The metal sculpture between the windows was observed at auction. Bentley’s collection of L.E. Smith Bittersweet vases in orange top rated off his bookcase by the window. “We experienced just one in our family property when I was young, and they often remind me of home. I definitely love my George Nelson Bubble Lamp, which I acquired from Modernica in Soho alongside with the sofa.” 

Bentley found his eating desk at the 36th Street flea market, and he spied the dining chairs in the basement of a nearby Baptist church when he was producing a clothes donation. He asked if he could obtain them, and the church gave them to him as a substitute. They have been produced in the ’50s by the Liberty Chair Company. The two Chinese carved-wooden screens ended up located several years ago at the 26th Road flea industry. 

The wall on the other aspect of the residing space is painted orange, highlighting Bentley’s prized “Hoop Chair” by Ib Kofod-Larsen for Selig Home furniture in Denmark. The two parts hanging higher than are by the Aboriginal artist Mitjili Napurrula, whose operates are in the assortment of the Nationwide Gallery of Australia. The artist James De La Vega painted Dollars Still Regulations for Bentley on a studio go to.

“The masks in the bed room,” Bentley says, “were ordered from a dear good friend, Rodney Terich Leonard, a released poet who was looking to offload some of the several, numerous African masks he collects.” The carved-wooden protect earlier mentioned the mattress was found at a flea market place.

A self-portrait of Bentley in his home/studio/gallery.

Photographs: Courtesy of Larry Bentley

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