About The Author

Deborah Buck

Deborah Buck, Author of Tableau, owner of Buck House

Blending styles and periods as if they were hues in a paint box, artist and antique dealer Deborah Buck expertly combines an international assortment of furniture, décor, art and jewelry to fill her eclectic tour-de-force, Buck House. Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the 375 square-foot boutique belies its Lilliputian footprint, and enjoys an esteemed reputation among designers, architects and tastemakers. Buck’s unique flare for creating tableaus that are elegant, witty, and daring help set Buck House apart from other antique shops of its kind.
Buck’s background as a painter informs all of her endeavors, including The Gallery at Buck House, her showroom a few blocks north of Buck House, along with her new lines of furniture and jewelry. She uses color boldly, forming juxtapositions that others might shy away from, such as the brilliant turquoise and burgundy striped color scheme chosen for one of Buck House’s walls. Not one to be seduced by pedigree, Buck combines high- and low-brow pieces, creating a democratic mix that challenges preconceived notions of beauty and value. “I don’t care if something costs $10 or $10,000,” she says. “As long as there’s integrity in the design, it’s fine by me.”
Born in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Buck graduated with honors from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1978; she also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. While still a teenager, Buck met the legendary abstract expressionist Clyfford Still, who agreed to mentor her: “He talked and I listened,” Buck recalls. “He told me, ‘Nobody can teach you to paint — you already know how to do that. But if you want to be taken seriously, you should learn everything you can about the world around you — religion, politics, design, science.’” Still’s words made a big impact on the young artist, inspiring her to follow her interests.
After college, Buck took a job in Baltimore with Walt Disney Productions, designing, illustrating, and installing animated displays. “A group of us would go into a shopping mall after it closed and work all night setting them up. It was fun because I got to work on each project from inception to plugging in the cord and watching Mickey’s arms move up and down,” she recalls. Buck left the company after seven years to move to Boston and devote herself full time to painting. It was there that she met her husband, Chris Buck; the couple relocated to New York City in 1990.
Buck gained recognition as an artist, exhibiting her work in galleries and museums in Baltimore, Boston and New York. In 1994, the birth of her son, Sam, ushered in a new phase in her life. “I wasn’t so interested in spending all that time alone in a studio, examining my demons,” she says of that time.
Setting aside her paintbrushes, Buck found an outlet as a chef. She received her toque at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School in 1998, and began demonstrating her skills on numerous cable and network television shows. Buck discovered another new passion when she an her husband moved into a rambling, pre-war apartment that hadn’t been renovated in 25 years: “I designed and decorated it, and found that my home became my painting.” In her new ad-hoc laboratory, Buck formulated what would become her signature eclectic style. Using mid twentieth-century furniture and objects as her mainstay, Buck adds accents from a range of periods, including nineteenth-century classic antiques and Chinese ceramics, as well as contemporary fine art.
With the apartment finished, Buck was ready to put her newfound skills to use: Buck House opened in 2001, and The Gallery at Buck House followed in 2006. “When I first rented it, I just thought I’d use it for storage,” she says of the gallery space. “But then I saw the potential to show art alongside antiques, and I got excited. I love finding and selling furniture, but I also had a yen to be an art dealer.” Combining the two proved an ideal outlet for Buck’s interests: “I realized that my training and background had created the perfect head to do both, together!”
The Gallery at Buck House has hosted book signings and seminars in addition to themed exhibitions that combine art and decorative items, inspired by Buck’s musings on subjects ranging from the color blue to wild flowers. Meanwhile, the opening receptions have taken on a life of their own, becoming a cause célèbre for the art world. “I always wanted to have a place where artists and intellectuals and characters of all walks of life gathered, and that’s what’s happening at the gallery,” says Buck. “I combine interesting people with artwork and let the rest happen on its own.” The result is a twenty-first century hybrid of sorts. (Picture a Parisian artists’ salon in the 1920s, set against the party scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Buck seems to enjoy the soirees as much as her guests: “It’s great fun, and there’s no end in sight.”
Buck continues to evolve by putting her personal stamp on everything she does; whatever she turns her attention to becomes art. “The store is a medium, the Gallery is a medium, and the collections are a medium,” she says. “To me, they are all just vehicles for self-expression.”