Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts in Art History and Visual Culture
Alexander Calder is best known for his monumental mobile sculptures. Firmly ensconced in mid-century modernism, Calder was highly influential for a number of other artists and movements between wars, especially Surrealism. Less known is that Calder was not only a sculptor, but also a jeweler. In fact, Calder’s work expanded from mobiles, stabiles, and sculptures into the world of studio jewelry as early as the 1930s. The recent revival of studio jewelry, coupled with increased attention of the artist due to record auction numbers, have begged a reconsideration of the role played by the “decorative” digressions of his oeuvre. Previously considered separately from his “fine art,” the studio jewelry maintains much of the formal and technical elements unique to the artist. This treatment seeks to elucidate the significance of jewelry for the artist and how influential the production was for the movement as a whole as Calder would revive the practice for fine artists and influence a generation for surrealists, including Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, and many more. These rings, bracelets, and brooches were well-known in the New York art scene, sold in the same galleries as his fine art. A revelation of the place of jewelry in Calder’s oeuvre, as well as other artists mid-century, will further bridge the divide between decorative and fine arts.
Clark-Russell, Mandy, "Alexander Calder and Studio Jewelry: Rethinking the Role of the Decorative" (2022). Theses. 370.
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