Between 1926 and 1934, Charles Sheeler produced seven paintings and several photographs of the interior of his home in South Salem, New York. Prominently featured in all of them is his collection of early American furnishings. Although he rendered each object with perfectionist clarity. he treated the composition as an abstract design, enlivened by his unusual choice of perspective as exampled in this piece, Americana(1931).
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Best known as an Art Deco metalsmith, Edgar Brandt (1880 – 1960) studied metal working at the Ecole nationale professionnelle of Vierzon and established himself in Paris in 1902. There, he began his blacksmith career; his creations first being marked by the Art nouveau aesthetic. Thanks to his extraordinary technical mastery and ingenuity, he received overwhelming numbers of commissions.
In 1925, Brandt opened an art gallery, where he exhibited pieces created by his contemporaries, as well as some of his works and collaborations, such as the ones with Daum or Lalique. This Modernist Table Lamp (1931) features an S-shaped body on a circular base, in nickel-plated metal, with 2 deep-etched glass cylinders. At 8.5-inches wide at the base, and 12.5-inches high, each lamp is stamped (at the base) with the artist’s Signature: E. Brandt, and Daum Nancy France, for the crystal studio and its location, is etched on the glass. Price point is unknown.
The forms of Agnes Pelton’s Sea Change (1931) channel the movement and energy of water, which the artist regarded as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of human thought. Created the year she left Long Island for the Southern California desert, Sea Change can be understood as a meditation on personal transitions; however, Pelton refused such specific readings of her art. Influenced by modern Theosophy, an esoteric blend of religion and philosophy, as well as the mysticism of the American Symbolist painters, Pelton believed that art channels the universal energies of the natural world through color and light, which are experienced rather than purely seen. She described color as “active,” likening it to a voice or “vibration” that is ideally perceived like “the fragrance of a flower [which] fills the consciousness with the essence of its life.”
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.
Influenced by Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte sought to strip objects of their usual functions and meanings in order to convey an irrationally compelling image. In Voice of Space (of which three other oil versions exist), the bells float in the air; elsewhere they occupy human bodies or replace blossoms on bushes. By distorting the scale, weight, and use of an ordinary object and inserting it into a variety of unaccustomed contexts, Magritte confers on that object a fetishistic intensity. He has written of the jingle bell, a motif that recurs often in his work: “I caused the iron bells hanging from the necks of our admirable horses to sprout like dangerous plants at the edge of an abyss.”
The disturbing impact of the bells presented in an unfamiliar setting is intensified by the cool academic precision with which they and their environment are painted. The dainty slice of landscape could be the backdrop of an early Renaissance painting, while the bells themselves, in their rotund and glowing monumentality, impart a mysterious resonance.
In her paintings, Florine Stettheimer (1871 – 1944) often depicted herself, her mother and sisters, and the artists who frequented the vibrant gatherings in her family’s Manhattan apartment. Alongside likenesses of her sitters, she typically included emblems of the individual’s identity — clues to character that could only be deciphered by this privileged audience.
At the center of Sun (1931) is a symbol deeply personal to the artist: a towering bouquet. Stettheimer picked a bouquet of seasonal flowers each year other birthday, recording the event in her journal; this one celebrates her sixtieth birthday and, with Florinewritten on the ribbon that snakes around it like a vine, suggests a stand-in for the artist herself. a woman, perhaps Stettheimer, lounges under an arbor on the distant, sun-drenched rooftop.