Canvases & Finger Paints

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The New York Sun

In their 130-year-old Italianate town house on East 78th Street, Roy and Mary Judelson have built an impressive, eclectic collection of contemporary art.But, as parents of three young children, the couple says their five-story home is primarily for family life.

“We designed this house to be completely family-oriented,” Mr. Judelson said. In the foyer of the garden floor, they installed long, narrow cubbies for each of the children to store their outdoor gear. And the fifth floor was made into a large playroom.

Despite these child-friendly touches, the home as a whole is adult, sophisticated, and devoted to art.”We’ve been collecting art for as long as I can remember,” Mr. Judelson, the chairman and chief executive of Archaio, a critical response technology company, said. His older brother owns a modern-art gallery, I-20, in Chelsea, from which the couple have bought many of their pieces.

In the sizable living room, three large modern paintings hang over a couch designed by the interior designer Richard Mishaan, whom the Judelsons hired to help match the home’s sleek interior with their contemporary art collection, and to create some harmony with the historic exterior, their collection of original Tiffany glass pieces, and some antique pieces of furniture. The paintings were smuggled out of Russia in the mid-1980s. The largest painting, by Yevgeny Kozlov, depicts a double-headed nude set against a graffiti background.

The room boasts 10 small, rectangular windows.A mid-19th-century Dongia gray glass chandelier, made in Murano, hangs over a pair of regency club chairs covered in a blue velvet with a Venetian pattern by the textile company Clarence House. “Roy wanted a chandelier that you could see from the street,” Mr. Mishaan said. “It is stunning to see the ceiling lit at night.”

The living room furniture includes several antique wooden tables and a couch, love seat, and chair designed by Mr. Mishaan.”The house has so much detail and Richard’s furniture complements it because his furniture is so simple,” Mr. Judelson said. The vaulted ceiling boasts a relief of the Florentine flower design, done by a Florentine craftsman in the 1920s.

“There were so many elements in the house that you had to be respectful of, but we wanted to bring in some contemporary touches without going to crazy,”Mr.Mishaan said.”What I love about this house is that it is half traditional and half contemporary.”A blue abstract painting by a contemporary Russian artist, Sergei Bugaev Afrika, hangs over an English inlaid wood table from the 1800s, and antique chairs covered in a leopardskin print. Another Afrika painting, “Beat the Reds-with-the-white-wedge” (ca. 1989) — which has been shown in museums, including the Queens Museum of Art and the Fischer Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles — hangs at the bottom of the staircase on the ground floor.

A contemporary collection of nudes hangs on the far side of the living room, along with a painting of a ballerina that was bought from the home’s last owner.

On the third floor-landing is a bench designed by Christopher Makos, a former assistant of Andy Warhol. It is trimmed with white rabbit fur and covered in black-and-white photographs of “Studio 54 basement people” that have been synthesized onto the wood. The Judelsons bought the bench at a Christie’s auction in 2003, when a group of artists redesigned Central Park benches to raise funds for the Central Park Conservancy. “Our whole concept for buying this bench was for the kids to have a place to put their things on,” Mr. Judelson said. After realizing how much the bench is worth, they soon rethought that idea.

The house remains child friendly, though, even in its art.In the second-floor “media room,”where the family often spends time together, is a large color photograph, “London 5,” by contemporary artist Spencer Tunick, known for his explicit photographs of large groups of nudes. The photograph, which the Judelsons call “child-friendly,” captures the backsides of 650 naked people riding four escalators in a London department store. Mr. Judelson said the very act of hanging the 5-foot-by-7-foot painting was “an art.”

The New York Sun

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