Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Cartier African Mask Brooch, 1950-60

Jewelers of the 1950s and 1960s searched for new ways to interpret traditional forms in the same creative dance that comes to art and fashion every half a century or so. As is always the case, eyes trained on the future often nod at the past.

Designed by Cartier in Paris between 1950 and 1960, this brooch depicts a stylized African head. Cartier has cleverly pointed to earlier designs based on African art which became popular in the Nineteenth Century, however, this one has a different message. This brooch was made around the time when France's colonial domination of large areas of Africa was coming to an end.

The mask is carved of white chalcedony, with gold and coral detailing and a single diamond set just above the nose.

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