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Gold and Silver Jewellery: Changing Traditions in the Twentieth Century

Exhibition  /  27 Mar 2007  -  19 Jun 2007
Published: 13.03.2007
Birgit Laken. Necklace: Snake. Birgit, LakenNecklace / neckpiece: Snake. Birgit Laken
Necklace: Snake


Birgit, Laken
Necklace / neckpiece: Snake

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Intro
(...) Jewellery-making’s renewal was due to the dramatic rise of avant-garde movements and the re-examination of codes of design (...).

From March 27 to June 19, 2007, the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg will present Gold and Silver Jewellery: Changing Traditions in the Twentieth Century. Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, this exhibition, which features some 140 pieces by over 80 artists, provides a look at gold and silver jewellery fashioned over a period of more than a hundred years. These pieces come from the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum’s Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection in particular, which has a vast array of contemporary jewellery created since 1945. This exhibition is part of the programme of exchanges and collaborative projects developed between these two institutions since 2003. The Hermitage Museum has very few pieces of twentieth-century jewellery; this exhibition will enable Russian visitors to discover the metamorphoses undergone by western jewellery during this period.
Although some types of jewellery seem to have endured throughout history, jewellery-making underwent an unparalleled evolution during the twentieth century. The jewellery selected for this exhibition defies traditional clichés by demonstrating creative new forms of artistic expression. Jewellery-making’s renewal was due to the dramatic rise of avant-garde movements and the re-examination of codes of design. These innovative pieces distinguish themselves by their use of unconventional form, techniques and materials. To explore this metamorphosis, the exhibition is shaped around five themes: “Artistic Convergence,” “Artist-made Jewellery,” “Figurative Tendencies,” “Affinity with Abstraction,” and “Daring Departures.”

At the turn of the twentieth century, creators renewed traditional jewellery: they made it into an art object in keeping with the principles of Art Nouveau, by gaining inspiration from nature or the female form (René Lalique). With Art Deco came straight lines and geometric shapes (Cartier). Starting in 1945, jewellery in Scandinavia and the United States was influenced by modernism. In the 1950s, two trends became apparent: on the one hand, jewellery was designed by an artist and executed in a gold- or silversmith’s workshop (Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí); on the other hand, jewellery was created directly by the artist without the intervention of an artisan (Giò Pomodoro, Bruno Martinazzi, Alexander Calder and Ibram Lassaw). The figurative tendency in jewellery took many forms. Some jewellers gained inspiration from the human body (Sam Kramer, Maurice Brault, Ramón Puig Cuyàs), while others were inspired by forms in nature (Jack Cunningham) or even human and social phenomenons (Georges Schwartz). In the section “Affinity with Abstraction,” the sources of inspiration were primarily architectural, geometric and structural (Earl Pardon, Friedrich Becker, Alberto Zorzi and Barbara Paganin).
Today, the most unusual materials are creeping into jewellery design, where they are sometimes combined with precious metals. The last section of the exhibition highlights the virtuosity of artist-jewellers who have discovered the intrinsic properties of new materials to use in their work (Barbara Stutman, Johanne Oppermann, Ted Noten and Birgit Laken).

Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, is in charge of the organization and the presentation of the exhibition Gold and Silver Jewellery: Changing Traditions in the Twentieth Century in Saint Petersburg.


Remarks


Opening Hours:
The Main Museum Complex, Menshikov Palace, General Staff building and Museum of Porcelain

Tuesdays - Saturdays 10.30 - 18.00
Sundays 10.30 - 17.00
Closed Mondays

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