Saturday, 5 January 2013

THE ART OF CARTIER: Modernism vs Art Deco

Cartier Pendant/Brooch Panther watch 1915
Geometrical and abstract designs started to appear in jewellery as far backs as 1904, in clear contrast to the Garland style. In 1909 there was a very important artistic event: the Russian Ballet of Sergei Diagilev was a major success in Paris. Louis Cartier was fascinated by the explosion of colours. One of his favourite colour combinations was blue and green and he interpreted in a magnificent mix of turquoise, lapis lazuli and jade or emerald and sapphire.

Onix was used since the beginning of the Twentieth Century and it became one of Cartier's favourite gemstones. It was very useful to enhance the diamonds as well as the piece's geometrical design. In 1914 appeared one of the most iconic designs by Cartier, the "panther skin" set in diamonds and onix. During that period and until the early thirties, rock crystal also became one of Cartier's favourite materials.

Cartier, cigarette case, 1930

Cartier created the basics of the Art Deco style before the First World War. The term and the style would be properly acknowledged after the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts took place in Paris in 1925. The most pure geometrical shapes and patterns were restricted to some objects like cigarette cases and some brooches.

Cartier, Pyramid clip brooch, 1935

Towards the end of the 1920's, the height of the Art Deco style brought back platinum and diamonds in a new type of "white jewellery" reminiscent of the one at the beginning of the century. Daring cuts were introduced, like the baguette, which suit the geometrical trend in Art deco perfectly. The pieces were first designed as flat and two dimensional and towards the 1930's they started to acquire volume.

© Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza