Cartier exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art – WWD

Dallas The Dallas Museum of Art takes visitors through the creative process of jewelers inspired by Eastern art in its spectacular new exhibition, Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity.

The exhibition differs somewhat from an exhibition of the same name that opened at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in October and reportedly attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

DMA Director Augustín Arteaga said the idea for the Dallas show was born at a meeting in 2018 where he shared the idea with Cartier Heritage, Image and Style Director Pierre Rainero and DMA Decorative Arts and Design Curator Sarah Schleuning, discussed.

At a press conference, Arteaga said he has long been an admirer of Cartier jewelry as an artistic form of expression and in 1999 curated an exhibition for the house at the Palacios de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Cartier exhibitions, which rely heavily on jewelry, documents, and other items from its own archive, are always curated by outside professionals, Rainero noted.

The Dallas show was also inspired by the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, an estimated collection of nearly 2,000 works leased to the DMA on long-term loan since 2014.

“Since joining the DMA in 2016, one of my goals has been to connect our museum to our diverse constituency and give our visitors the opportunity to see themselves represented here and learn more about the cultures of the world,” said Artega.

The dimly lit exhibition is as dazzling as it is dense, illuminating more than 130 glittering Cartier jewelry, handbags, cigarette cases, powder compacts and other items, most of which date from the first half of the 20th century.

The lavish orbs are exemplified by artworks and decorative objects from the Middle East, India, North Africa, and Asia that resemble their shape and form, including paintings, pottery, manuscripts, architectural illustrations, and textiles.

Louis J. Cartier, grandson of house founder Jacques Cartier, became an admirer and collector of Islamic artworks after exhibitions in Paris in 1903 and 1912 and Munich in 1910 that introduced the genre to a European audience.

In addition, his brother Jacques traveled to India and Bahrain and brought home inspirational objects.

“The discovery of Islamic art was so recent,” Rainero said in an interview. “It was an enchantment of new forms that were very decorative and very different from the surroundings.”

Cartier had its designers spend hours studying and drawing the interlocking and intertwined shapes, he noted.

“He asked designers to get to the essence of new shapes, not only for their intrinsic beauty, but also for the opportunity to build on those shapes and create something distinctive and appropriate for the new century,” explained Rainero.

The patterns and shapes that Cartier began exploring in the early 20th century influenced the Art Deco style, which matured in the 1920s and 1930s.

Because jewelry is small, lead exhibition designer Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York used 10 super high definition digital videos to enlarge approximately 20 pieces to wall size, revealing textures and patterns that might otherwise have been overlooked.

Each of the four galleries features a projection animating the concept and construction of a Cartier “hero object” shown alone with the video.

The analysis of a 1922 gold, coral and diamond bandeau tiara, for example, begins with an architectural drawing of a similar shape and animates the creation of the gold frame and the stones falling into their settings.

“People stop and look at the hero object and the video, and it helps them see the complexity, the construction, and the super complex patterns,” Diller said. “It took us a while to figure out how these things were constructed.”

Another unusual presentation is the “Breathing Necklace,” a 1948 lacy gold and diamond bib that buckles around a faux neck and shoulders and slowly moves up and down, contouring the necklace from flat to and back again lifts.

It has been over seven years since the last Cartier North American exhibition at the Denver Art Museum, remarked Mercedes Abramo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cartier North America.

“It’s wonderful to have an exhibition of this size and scale for Cartier,” said Abramo. “It’s about getting people excited about Cartier, both our existing customers and new customers.”

She declined to say how the four-month show in Paris may have affected sales, store or web traffic.

Cartier celebrated the museum’s supporters and presenting sponsor PNC Bank on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday flew about 150 to 200 key clients and about 20 members of the press to the museum for dinner and subsequent previews of the show, which runs through September 18.

Schleuning curated the exhibition with DMA Curator of Islamic and Medieval Art Heather Ecker, Musée des Arts Décoratifs Chief Curator of Ancient and Modern Jewelery Évelyn Possémé, and Musée du Louvre Curator and Associate Director of Islamic Art Judith Hénon.

“I hope people go home with this,” Schleuning said, “is this incredible conception of what it means to be inspired, to look at things from the past … and how they inspire new ideas.” Cartier exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art – WWD

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