here's a new exhibition at the Cranbrook Art Museum, MI, U.S.A:Bent, Cast & Forged: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia. Bent, Cast & Forged will run from the 14th March until the 29th November 2015 and is dedicated to Harry Bertoia: sculptor, architect, graphic designer, furniture designer and above all, jewellery designer. In fact, with a display of over one hundred pieces, this exhibition focuses on Bertoia's vital contribution to the field of jewellery design. Bertoia's most productive period was undoubtedly the time spent, first as a student and then as a lecturer, at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, MI, U.S.A. Even if this versatile designer is best known for his unconventional metal-framed furniture, his jewellery designs are also icons in their own right. And it's not just a coincidence that one of his most renowned pieces is called Diamond Lounge Chair.
As soon as you step into the museum, the aim is clear: to shine a new light on Bertoia's creative life, highlighting his vital contribution to the field of jewellery design. And who would ever have guessed that Harry Bertoia was a forerunner of the design movement known as American Jewelry and also responsible for raising the status of jewels from simple ornaments to real objets d’art.
Let yourself be carried away by this exhibition. At a first glance, it's clear that Bertoia applied to jewellery design his other “big” passion, sculpture. In fact, in most of his work we find those same shapes and techniques which also feature in his sculptures. His first metal pieces date back to the beginning of the thirties, when, in 1937, he became a member of the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he will later direct the metal workshop.
His jewels are sophisticated, unusual and unique... A quick look at the display cabinets is all you need to be dazzled by a collection of silver pendants, broaches and bijoux. During the Second World War, he was a favoured name among the ladies of Bloomfield Hills, an affluent suburb north west of Detroit, MI. Due to wartime austerity, his designs were small in shape but still extremely sought after. As always, Bertoia was able to enchant his clientèle with refined pieces, inspired by nature.
The skill and genius of Bertoia as a goldsmith stands out in such a way that by the end of the exhibition, you will flabbergasted not to have known this before. Bertoia, the jewellery designer, was even recognised by the Allied Craftsmen, the oldest organisation of craftspeople in California. Throughout the years, his designs have been sold in the best shops around the world specialising in modernist art. It's certain that he was one of the innovators of this field and his vision contributed in bringing together jewellery design, painting and sculpture. The proof is in the pudding: his jewels are not just craft pieces but real works of art.