The Transformation of Georges Braque
Late-Era Jewelry from an Artist of Mythic Proportions
In 1961 Georges Braque, already one of the most famous and respected painters of the 20th century, began designing jewelry in collaboration with goldsmith Baron Héger de Loewenfeld. The resulting collection, Metamorphoses, was inspired by Ovid's epic narrative poem of the same name, which chronicles the history of the world through the telling of 250 myths. The works first debuted at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre in 1962 and traveled to New York in the summer of 1963. Braque passed away later that year, leaving de Loewenfeld, who Braque once called an "extension of [his] hand," to carry out the production of the jewelry collection, as based on detailed gouaches Braque left behind.
The stunning works that comprise Metamorphoses illustrate the changes Braque underwent as an artist over his long career. A sense of movement and transformation informs the pieces and Braque's distinctive and visionary take on playing with planar perspective and building up a whole through its parts is on full display in these jewelry designs. The departure from his oeuvre is in his focus on iconography and direct representation, which he often avoided. The simple, expressive depictions of Greek gods and goddesses, birds in flight, and darting fish in the collection speak to Braque's mastery and artistic intuition, while also showing his joie de vivre toward continuously expanding upon his seismic body of work, right up until his death. Braque takes the colossal, airy myths of history and grounds them in organic, approachable forms, tactile surfaces and refined materials, creating epic tales that you can wear and carry with you.