All Twisted Up

One of the great things about the LACMA, California Design, 1930-1965, Living in a Modern Way, exhibit is that it covers so many arts & crafts forms However, a frustration is that it covers so much, it’s like Art History 101, you get just a taste of many artists.

There is always such a balance in showing art between a survey of a movement or a comprehensive look at one. There were so many amazing pieces to look at in the show, we were there until closing and will be back, and the variety in them was so welcome. But the show left me yearning for a more comprehensive look at one of the genres. Maybe the show is meant as an introduction to all of the Pacific Standard Time (PSTinLA) shows and events but I wish LACMA had taken one artist or genre and expanded upon it in a separate space in the exhibit. Otherwise, thank you for such a great taste of art and artisans in an important period of California history.

As a lover and collector of craft jewelry I was excited to see jewelry included in the show — one of my favorite pieces is the one below by Claire Falkenstein. It is a brass twisted wire choker, 1948, that she reputedly wore until she passed away in 1997 at her home in Venice. What makes this choker a shopstopper is it’s simplicity and it’s drama.

©SecretGardenProperties 2011. All rights reserved.

Claire Falkenstein brass choker, 1948

It’s simplicity is in the medium (brass), production (twisted and soldered) and shape (repetition of same curve). But it’s dynamism comes from the twisted loop fasteners at the neck and the soldered tips of the breast piece. They add a dimensionality to the piece through their form and reflections on such a simple surface. I would love to see how it moves when worn. Take some time to look at the jewelry in the show — lots of contemporary jewelry artists have taken inspiration from these artists — the pieces show a range of metals and techniques but there is a commonality in form and inspiration.

Look for more on Claire Falkenstein in an upcoming post on her amazing Entrance Gates to the Palazzo, 1961, at the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice, Italy and her stained glass windows, doors and gates at St. Basil’s Catholic Church, 1969, in LA.

There is a small model of the Guggenheim gates in the LACMA exhibit. The scale of the model doesn’t do justice to the full-scale piece in Venice but the necklace above conveys a similar drama to those gates.

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