Musical Ear, Artistic Eye

Works from the Collection of Seymour Stein

Seymour Stein is co-founder and Chairman of Sire Records, one of the world’s most influential record labels and home to some of the most iconic artists in modern music. He has been Sire’s driving visionary and creative force since its origins in the 1960s as an independent label and its four-decade tenure as part of Warner Music Group. His unique ability to anticipate musical trends, and to discover and sign the greatest artists within those movements, has left an indelible mark on contemporary culture. 

It was in 1955, when he was just 13 years old, that Stein was granted access to the Billboard archives, where he painstakingly transcribed two decades of charts, developing his encyclopedic memory of songs. After high school, he joined the Billboard staff, then worked for King Records and Red Bird Records. He and producer Richard Gottehrer launched Sire Records in 1967. 

Stein and Madonna at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, 1996

Stein first saw the Ramones in 1975 and, as he said, “It was like sticking my hand in a live electric light socket.” The band’s first album was released by Sire in 1976. It remains one of the seminal recordings in rock and roll history. Stein put New Wave music – a term he coined – on the mainstream map with the likes of Talking Heads and the Pretenders. And in a moment that has become a permanent part of music industry lore, Stein signed a young artist named Madonna while he was in the hospital recuperating from a heart infection. Over the years, Sire’s roster has included other cutting-edge artists such as Tom Tom Club, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Cure, Ice-T, k.d. lang, Seal, Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Aphex Twin, Spacehog, Regina Spektor, Tegan & Sara, and many more. Stein was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

In addition to his myriad musical pursuits, Stein developed an impeccable eye for fine and decorative art. His particular love for Art Deco and Art Nouveau design began during his many trips to London and Paris while on the hunt for new bands to sign. With the guidance of his long-time curator and adviser Rodney Richardson, Stein procured only the best examples of ceramics, paintings, drawings, and furniture he could find. We are thrilled to present works from his extraordinary collection and are grateful to him and Rodney for their help, warmth, and good humor.

Jean Mayodon

Born in 1893, Jean Mayodon trained as an interior decorator and painter prior to turning to ceramics around the age of twenty. He set up a workshop in his hometown of Sèvres, France and enjoyed rapid success, presenting his ceramics at the Musée Galliera in Paris (now the Palais Galliera) in 1919 and holding his first solo exhibition just two years later. Mayodon drew inspiration from classical Greek, Persian, Etruscan, and other Mediterranean antiquities. His vessels are striking, covered in painterly illustrations of creatures, figures, and animals in rich colors with exquisite gold craquelure. These colors resulted from his low-temperature firing technique combined with metal oxide glazes; he fired his pieces up to six times, reglazing with each firing, resulting in rich, complex, vibrant hues.

Mayodon collaborated with Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann at the influential 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderne, Paris, and his work was included in the Parisian Salons des Artistes Décorateurs of 1928 and 1932. He also worked with many preeminent designers and architects of the time, among them Eugene Printz, Jules Leleu, and Raymond Subes. He participated in numerous other international exhibitions throughout his career and served as an artistic advisor from 1934-39 and artistic director from 1941-42 at the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres. While there, Mayodon created designs for both the first class swimming pool and the luxurious Rouen suite on the famous ocean liner SS Normandie. His work can be found in leading institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Art Institute of Chicago and he is considered to be one of the foremost French Art Deco ceramists of his era.

Auction Results Jean Mayodon