Messengers of Modernism: American Studio Jewelry 1940-1960

Catalogue for exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, 1997
Text by Toni Greenbaum; Edited by Martin Eidelberg
Softcover; 168 pages; 107 photos

In the 1940s and 1950s American modernist jewelry represented a significant force in the decorative arts. During these years, a variety of craftspeople and artists, based primarily in New York and northern California, rejected traditional forms and materials, creating radically new jewelry which reflected movements in modern art. In this beautifully designed and lavishly illustrated catalogue, which accompanied the travelling exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, jewelry historian Toni Greenbaum examines the output of twenty-five of the most significant American modernist jewelers. 

Among the artists featured are such influential figures as Alexander Calder, Harry Bertoia, Margaret De Patta, Sam Kramer, Art Smith, Paul Lobel, Irena Brynner, Elsa Freund, Frances Higgins, Betty Cooke, Bill Tendler, Peter Macchiarini, Ed Wiener and Earl Pardon. The ninety pieces of jewelry in the Museum’s collection are illustrated and accompanied by catalogue entries which include information on dates, materials, dimensions and markings. Greenbaum’s introductory essay, and her detailed biographies of every jewelry designer, provide valuable information on the artists and the social and art historical context of the modernist jewelry movement.