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Bringing the Garden In with John Funt

When we relocated the Bunny Williams Home showroom to 306 East 61st Street in May of last year (to a bigger, brighter space right next door to Bunny’s design firm, Williams Lawrence) we were confronted with the question of what to put on the walls. Of course, Bunny had an answer up her sleeve–an artist whose work she admires and collects herself: John Funt.

At a party celebrating the opening of the new showroom and the launch of our Treillage collection, guests were greeted by John Funt’s monumental painting of a Monstera plant in a blue-and-white jar. Further inside the showroom, a large autumn still life painting hung over our Grant Sofa. The paintings quickly found homes, and we quickly realized the beginning of a wonderful partnership with artist John Funt.

Most recently, we have been pleased to present Bringing the Garden In: Recent Paintings by John Funt, a new exhibition of John Funt’s work on view at the Bunny Williams Home showroom now through August 1st.

Two of the new paintings in the show: Plant on an Early Chest (left) and Yellow Irises in a Lustred Jug (right).

The exhibition centers on ten new works that debuted at the show, accompanied by additional recent work. The paintings are inspired by John Funt’s greenhouse and garden in Norfolk, Connecticut, and celebrate the palette of the plant world accentuated by each season.

At home in Norfolk, John divides his time between his studio and adjoining greenhouse and garden—both provide a needed refuge.

“I will take a plant cutting to the easel and paint/study it,” he explains. “I celebrate patterns in leaves, petals, textiles and happily disappear into the process!”

John’s partner Rick Childs prepares a panel in the workshop. 

John’s preferred medium is oil on panel. Panels are sanded and prepared in a nearby workshop and then brought to the studio.

Recently completed works hang in a corner of the studio including Gloriosa Lilies, currently available via our website and showroom. Vintage wood frames collected for their unique beauty are chosen by the artist specifically for each new painting.

Hosta in a Yellow Jar (left) and Tea and Trellis (right)

Of this approach, he says: “I find the use of vintage frames adds a collage element. So often a painting is a simplification of ideas. For me it is a process of editing and as such requires an initial complexity of color and detail which is painted over or refined. I seem to never tire of the simple forms of flower pots and vases and the elegance of leaves. Green has always been the anchor.”

In an area between the studio and greenhouse, a large, glass-front cabinet houses a collage of books, antique gardening tools, and other inspiration.

John’s dog, Gracie, is a welcome distraction at the easel. 

Born in 1953 in New York City, John is the son of the late Allen Funt, creator and longtime host of the TV program Candid Camera. John studied art with sculptor Rhys Caparn at the Dalton School in New York and with painter Joseph Slate at Kenyon College in Ohio. He later worked as a designer of events for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then as a designer for Tiffany & Company. For many years since, John has devoted himself to painting.

A painting by John Funt hangs in a living room by Bunny’s design firm Williams Lawrence. Photo by Francesco Lagnese.

Bunny has long admired John’s work and has included it in her design projects and her own home.

A large painting by John Funt is hung over the fireplace in Bunny’s studio in Connecticut. Photo by Carter Berg.

When renovating her studio in Connecticut, Bunny realized that a space between two glass-paneled walls above the fireplace would be perfect for one of John’s paintings that she’d seen. She called him to ask if the painting was still available—and it was. The piece, which depicts a brook winding among rocks in a woodland forest, almost looks as if it was painting for the space.

Photo by Annie Schlechter.

More recently, Bunny included a painting by John Funt in her new bedroom addition. A favorite way to group paintings across styles and eras, it is stacked between a 1940s French abstract work and an early 19th-century English paintings of dogs.

In the Winter Greenhouse by John Funt hangs above our Workhorse desk. Photo by Reid Rolls.

Composed at various scales, John’s paintings can command an intimidatingly-empty wall, a compact corner or a narrow nook with equal ease. By showing John’s work alongside pieces from the Bunny Williams Home collection and other one-of-a-kind finds in our showroom, we hope that visitors can envision what it’s like to live in a personal, meaningfully-layered space, among pieces they truly love and that will last a lifetime.

Bunny and John at the Opening Night of the exhibition. 

We hope to welcome you into our showroom soon to see the show. For those not able to visit in person, John Funt’s work is available to browse and shop on our website here.  

Cover photo by Reid Rolls.

Posted to Collection on July 19, 2023

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