Nature transformed french art nouveau horn jewelryBy Goldring Jessica
Macklowe Gallery has published a lavishly illustrated catalogue, 'Nature Transformed', as documentation of its groundbreaking 2012 exhibition of French Art Nouveau horn jewellery. The jewellery exhibited consisted largely of pendants, hung from silk cords with coloured beads, brooches, and hair ornaments, as well as decorative accessories including letter openers. Horn jewellery, almost unseen today became extremely popular during the Art Nouveau period (1880-1914), a time when gold platinum and heavy stones were abandoned in favour of exotic materials and creative innovations. Unlike ivory and tortoiseshell, horn is malleable, and could be easily twisted and carved into the curvilinear shapes and sinuous organic lines so beloved of the Art Nouveau era. Horn's translucency, skin-like bloom, and lightness of colour appealed to the Art Nouveau jewellery designer, who created life-like recreations of shapes from nature including insects, flowers and animals. Japonisme and a fascination with the East are reflected in both the vocabulary of insects and flowers as well as in the shapes of many of the brooches and pendants. Uniting the worlds of fashion, jewellery history, and art history, Nature Transformed features the photography of Kevin Mackintosh, an essay by jewellery historian Janet Zapata and a poetic exposition on the form by Jessica Goldring. The catalogue not only documents how the horn jewellery was made but also discusses how its aesthetic wove together artistic and fashion trends of the day. At the same time, the brilliant fashion photo editorials give this unique jewellery relevance in today's fashion world.