The modernist jewelers in the United States who practiced their craft from the 1930s through the 1960s were pretty emphatic about their rejection of the styles that had come before. Victorian jewelry was dismissed as too decorative, Art Nouveau pieces were deemed too fussy, and the Art Deco aesthetic was considered excessively rigid.
Modernist jewelers felt they had more in common with painters, sculptors, and other modern artists of the day. Their ambitious goal was to create one-of-a-kind works of art that people could wear.
One of the early champions and practitioners of the form was Sam Kramer, who, like many of his contemporaries, lived, worked, and sold his creations in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Kramer worked primarily in silver, but he was also adept at fashioning rings, earrings, and pins out of copper and found objects, including moose teeth, buttons, fossils, and ancient coins. Sometimes Kramer used semi-precious stones such as garnets or opals in his surreal, geometric, or biomorphic pieces.
Another unofficial leader of the modernist jewelry movement was Kramer’s neighbor Art Smith. His jewelry ranged from simple silver neck rings to biomorphic pieces that drew from African motifs. While Smith made small pieces such as cuff links and earrings, many of his best works were large enough to wrap the body, as if the human form was the mere backdrop for his creations. His vintage copper wrist cuffs, especially the “jazz” cuffs with musical notes applied to their outside surfaces, are highly collectible.
Boomerangs, straight lines intersecting curves, and atomic-age shapes typified Ed Wiener’s work. Sometimes a pair of silver earrings resembling deformed hourglasses were adorned with a single pearl; other times, a cat’s-eye agate would be placed in the center of a piece, as if to give his inanimate objects the semblance of a human face.
Outside New York there was Betty Cooke, who worked in the Bauhaus mode in Baltimore. Her jewelry was composed of geometric shapes and characterized by a strong sense of order, wh...
Another Bauhaus acolyte was Margaret De Patta, whose work reflected the profound influence of Bauhaus teacher Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, with whom she studied. Meanwhile, out in San Francisco, Peter Macchiarini looked to African masks and Cubism for inspiration. Brass, copper, and silver were common materials, along with opals, agates, and wood.
In Scandinavia during the 1940s and ’50s, a parallel movement was underway. Henning Koppel and Nanna Ditzel were two notable Georg Jensen designers, whose silver necklaces sporting amoeba-like and teardrop shapes combined the perfection of Danish silversmithing with an interest in natural, even primal, forms.
Later, in 1960s Finland, Bjorn Weckstrom married solid silver and polished chunks of acrylic to create rings, bracelets, and pendants that were at once space age and organic.
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Gallery ListingSavannah Morning News, December 20th
The exhibition and sale includes ceramic platters, bowls, vases, boats, jewelry, encaustic and oil paintings, hand-cut paper constructions, fiber table runners and much more. An artists' reception is from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5 in conjunction with the First...Read more
Art openings, classes, events in and around AshevilleAsheville Citizen-Times, December 20th
10-11, 2 p.m., Asheville Art Musuem, 2 S. Pack Sq. Documentary about four-year-old artist whose abstract works have drawn critical comparisons with modernist greats such as Kandinsky, Picasso and Pollock. But is she truly an artistic visionary or is...Read more
Museum & Gallery Listings for Dec. 19-25New York Times, December 19th
Historic house and modern museum have always made an awkward fit, a standoff between preservation and innovation, and the problem remains, but the renovation has brought a wide-open new gallery space, a cafe and a raft of be-your-own-designer ..... In...Read more
Cleveland Arts listings for Dec. 19-25: Moscow Ballet's "The Great Russian ...cleveland.com, December 18th
Free admission to the permanent collection. Admission may apply to touring exhibitions. Exhibit (Smith Exhibition Hall): "Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist photography." Features more than 165 photographs from the 1920s through the 1940s...Read more
Emerging Design: Chapel Hill metalsmith drawn to modern geometric shapesNews & Observer, December 17th
Triplett's jewelry can be found at emilytriplettjewelry.com or locally at LIGHT Art + Design in Chapel Hill, which carries one-of-a-kind pieces; or at Vert & Vogue in Durham, which carries an exclusive collection created for the shop. Prices on her...Read more
Review: Crammed Full of Cartier "Ice," the DAM's Brilliant Is the Perfect ...Westword (blog), December 17th
Up front, I'm going to admit that I know very little about jewelry (I don't even wear a watch), but I do know a lot about the history of style as it revealed itself in Paris in the twentieth century, and I've got a good handle on the characteristics of...Read more
January brings 'The Penland Experience' to art galleriesUALR, December 16th
The exhibit is an examination through modernist art reference, facsimile/production, and artistic invention/re-presentation. While each piece operates individually, together a narrative begins to develop about ... Clancy, a professor in metals at the...Read more
Vintage, handmade and emerging designer markets abound this holiday seasonWashington Post, December 11th
Be a holiday hero by shopping at one of the many markets popping up around D.C. “By supporting these markets versus shopping at department stores, you're supporting local business and buying products that aren't mass-produced, which people ...Read more