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More Margaret De Patta Love: Her Art Jewelry as Wearable Sculpture and Playing with Light

Margaret De Patta "Portrait of Margaret De Patta" 1955 photo: Barbara Cannon Myers
Margaret De Patta “Portrait of Margaret De Patta” 1955 photo: Barbara Cannon Myers

Margaret De Patta was my first “Margaret Monday” feature and I’m revisiting her because the Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta is at the Museum of Art and Design through September 23rd, 2012.  MONDOBLOGO wrote an exuberant post about Margaret De Patta and how her previous blog post was about wire sculptor Ruth Asawa, and then she found a photo of the DePatta in front of her own Asawa piece.  I love connections like this, and MONDOBLOGO had a photo of Asawa’s wedding ring, designed by Buckminster Fuller, another favorite of mine.

Margaret de Patta photographed by Imogen Cunningham in front of her Ruth Asawa piece
Margaret de Patta photographed by Imogen Cunningham in front of her Ruth Asawa piece

Bella Neyman has an illuminating interview with Ursula Ilse-Neuman, curator of the Margaret De Patta Exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design, about the sculptural quality of De Patta’s designs, and her use of “opticuts“(intricate faceting of stones to show their interiors with lapidary Francis Sperisen), and one of these she traded  for the Ruth Asawa wire sculpture.

Photo courtesy of Ed Watkins. Rupert Deese's design for Margaret De Patta's work at MAD.
Photo courtesy of Ed Watkins. Rupert Deese’s design for Margaret De Patta’s work at MAD.

Neyman points to an interview with Rupert Deese, who designed the exhibit, which is an artwork unto itself.  I was enchanted by Deese’s care for the display of De Patta’s work, his desire to bring the pieces to eye-level, to make their monumental presence known, in spite of  being 3 inches at most.  As a solution, he created lighted plexiglass cylinders suspended from columns.  Deese describes an element from Moholy-Nagy, a teacher of Margaret De Patta:

Moholy-Nagy’s work definitely recognizes that everything is in flux, and therefore, flux should be recognized. And when somebody’s wearing jewelry, it’s a performance. You know, your earrings are fairly static, but nonetheless, they’re there, they move when you move.

Ilse-Neuman sums this up in the title of her article  The Transcendent Jewelry of Margaret De Patta:  Vision in Motion.  Vision in Motion.

Margaret De Patta
De Patta brooch with a Sperisen double lens “opti-cut” smoky quartz. When observed by a spectator, the stone creates a “see through” effect that distorts and gives the illusion of movement to the chased decorated surface behind the gemstone.
Photo by Margaret De Patta.

Space-Light-Structure at: Museum of Art and Design, New York City, June 5th, 2012-September 23rd, 2012, Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta.


Read More

Margaret De Patta’s Wearable Art of Space-Light-Structure

Groundbreaking Jeweler: Margaret De Patta

More photos at my Margarets Pinterest Board.

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