Exploring Modern Art: Vilhelm Lundstrøm and the Cubist Style

May 17th, 2016 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

When one thinks of Cubism, images of Montmartre intellectuals and Picasso’s ground-breaking Les Demoiselles d’Avignon immediately spring to mind. One of the most influential movements in art history, hints of the Cubist aesthetic continue to resonate in the art world. One man who helped advance and disseminate this revolutionary vision was the talented Vilhelm Lundstrøm. A celebrated modernist painter, Lundstrøm is credited for bringing French Cubism to Denmark, establishing a rich modern tradition in the Danish art scene that exists still today.

A central figure in early Danish modernism, Vilhelm Lundstrøm's abstract canvases are a bold exploration of simplified shape and color

A central figure in early Danish modernism, Vilhelm Lundstrøm’s abstract canvases are a bold exploration of simplified shape and color

The foundations of Cubist art can be boiled down to the Lundstrøm’s forbearers: Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. A movement born from abandoning perspective, exploring form, and experiencing space, Cubism emerged in 1907 as a reaction to the primitive art of Paul Cezanne. Together, Braque and Picasso developed the style to the very apex of austerity: Analytical Cubism. Their capability to comprehend and capture different viewpoints and positions simultaneously gave rise to a multitude of other styles, all which rejecting the idea that art should reflect true nature. Lundstrøm’s work Still Life with Orange, Books and Boxes is a clear example of the duo’s deep and long-lasting influence.

The present still life embodies his distinctive, minimal Cubist aesthetic

The present still life embodies his distinctive, minimal Cubist aesthetic

Depicting a multitude of simplified forms to depict books and boxes, the minimal aesthetic of the Cubist style is immediately evident. In a palette of primary colors, this stark and extraordinary work exemplifies Lundstrøm’s bold and powerful renderings. Visiting France in the 1920s after studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Art, Lundstrøm encountered for the first time the Cubist canvasses of the great Picasso; the images would remain with him, permeating his oeuvre and influencing his homeland of Denmark. Echoing Picasso’s technique of a visual language based on numerous vantage points of geometric forms, Lundstrøm emphasizes the flattened two dimentionality of the canvas. This work goes far beyond the simple depiction of reality for any viewer. Instead of being a mirror into what the natural eye can already see, Lundstrøm presents us with a different view through shallow, relief like spaces, challenging us to consider our world is a new, different way.

On par with the big names of modern art, Lundstrom has left us with a piece of Danish Cubism that accurately reflects the bold, distinctive temperament of early 20th century modern art. Through just a morsel of context, the understanding of a Cubist work can change from a recognition of the pretty aesthetic to a thoughtful and perceptive approach to one of the most pivotal styles in art history.

Emerald Terminology, Explained

May 4th, 2016 | posted by Danielle Halikias

With an unmistakable lush green color, May’s birthstone has long been one of the most coveted of all colored gemstones. Adored since ancient times, the emerald was thought to possess magical powers that warded off evil spirits and cure diseases. Today, the emerald still holds power, but of an entirely different sort – the power of desire. This dazzling green gemstones evokes a sense of elegant tranquility as the gem of the spring season.

An outstanding 6.02-carat emerald exhibits the perfect "Old Mine" green hue in this classic and captivating ring

An outstanding 6.02-carat emerald exhibits the perfect “Old Mine” green hue in this classic and captivating ring

With the gemstone market ever expanding, the choices for emeralds seem endless. These popular precious gemstones can be found today in a range of varying colors, sizes, and qualities. For the first-time buyer, this variety of stones and the accompanying terminology can seem daunting and difficult to decipher. When searching for the perfect emerald, it’s important to understand the makeup of your stone and its background, as various treatments and artificial enhancements are not always noticeable to the unpracticed eye. Oil/no oil – what does it all mean, anyway? Let’s take a closer look at the most common terms you might encounter when shopping for your next emerald.

Certified by the American Gemological Laboratories as untreated, the stunning duo total 3.12 carats and claim an entirely natural beauty

Certified by the American Gemological Laboratories as untreated, the stunning duo total 3.12 carats and claim an entirely natural beauty

The eight remarkably rare Colombian emeralds display a stunning deep green hue that attest to their important origin

The eight remarkably rare Colombian emeralds display a stunning deep green hue that attest to their important origin

Apart from the chemical makeup of each unique stone, the geographical origin of emeralds should also be considered. For instance, Colombia has been the prime location for the mining of the finest quality emeralds in the world. These stones possess a quality like no other as they are regarded as the finest in the world identifiable by their pure, dark green color and quality, seen in this Colombian emerald and diamond statement necklace.

Exciting imaginations since antiquity, the emerald’s association with the lushest landscapes and rebirth maintains its association with the renewal of the Spring season. Today, the demand for the emerald has skyrocketed as consumers desire emeralds that speak to the most pure color and origin. By understanding simple terminology behind the makeup of an emerald, anyone can detect what makes up the finest emeralds.

 

 

Captured in History: Artifacts of the Vatican

April 25th, 2016 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

A place of legends, spirituality and myth, Vatican City is the epicenter of Catholicism worldwide. For many, Vatican City stands as the ultimate place of piety. As the seat of the Roman Catholic Church for more than 1,000 years, it is a landmark filled with a rich history that has come to symbolize devout holiness. It is the smallest independent country in the world, yet wields greater influence globally than any other.

This incredible KPM tazza was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm III for Pope Pius VII

This incredible KPM tazza was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm III for Pope Pius VII

Within this influential structure, the Pope reigns supreme – his actions and words have held remarkable import for as long as the position has existed. In March 2013, a monumental event took place as the 266th pope was elected, Pope Francis I. The first pope hailing from Argentina, Pope Francis I embraced the modern era unlike any other before, sparking a renewed global interest in the Vatican. Recently popularized by blockbuster films and top-rated pop fiction novels, the Vatican is headlining news now more than ever before. Stories about secret archives and ancient symbols within the walls of the Vatican seem farfetched, but the true history that envelops the world’s smallest country is no less intriguing.

In the art and antiques world, revelations of this city are particularly exciting. Because it is the history that many find most alluring, let’s backtrack to the early nineteenth century and look at one of the most pivotal stages in papal history.

This "peace dish" is hand-painted with the Monument surrounded by an intricate bouquet of flowers

This “peace dish” is hand-painted with the Monument surrounded by an intricate bouquet of flowers

As George IV became King of England, Susan B. Anthony led the American suffrage movement, and Napoleon I died in exile, significant change took place during the 1820s. All around, the tumultuous political atmosphere caused massive diplomatic upheaval as countires clamored to ally with neighboring states. This diplomacy was highly embraced by the Vatican City. Dedicated to forming diplomatic relationships with surrounding states, the early 19th century aim of the Vatican was focused on solidifying relations with the country Prussia, and each took part in the passage of the Concordat of 1821. Highly advantageous for both parties, this diplomatic pass further intertwined the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Prussia under the direction of King Wilhelm III and Pope Pius VII.

This important porcelain tazza was once part of the famed Twininght Collection of Royal Porcelain, New York

This important porcelain tazza was once part of the famed Twininght Collection of Royal Porcelain, New York

Naturally, in this age a diplomatic agreement was not finalized without the gracious offering of a gift to the neighboring party. Pleased with the outcome, King Wilhelm III commissioned one of the finest porcelain manufacturers to create two tazzas, also known as peace dishes, to be delivered to the Vatican. KPM, arguably the greatest name in porcelain history, crafted these tazzas with a level of richness and intricacy that would have only been appropriate for the high taste of the pope.

Because papal artifacts are extremely rare to come by, their rarity becomes all the more important. By being directly connected to the papacy, provenance of items, such as this and other furniture pieces, take on a whole new meaning of immense, unceasing importance.

Dining as an Art: Caring for Your Silver Collection

April 18th, 2016 | posted by James Gillis
This incredible English King flatware service by Tiffany & Co. comprises 664 impeccable pieces

This incredible English King flatware service by Tiffany & Co. comprises 664 impeccable pieces

Since its inception in 1837, silver flatware by Tiffany & Co. has brought a touch of luxury to dining rooms in a manner of unparalleled craftsmanship and elegance. Synonymous with timeless style, the Tiffany & Co. Silver Company began retailing silverware at the onset of an era of rapid wealth expansion in America. This new wealth, coupled with discoveries of vast silver deposits in the West, spurred an entirely new way of living and socializing for the upper classes. Social calendars of the elite were now filled with evening gatherings, dinner parties, and highly exclusive social events. The new sumptuous tastes were on full display, and extensive silver flatware sets and centerpieces served as a visual affirmation of economic prosperity and affluence. Tiffany designed large flatware sets, comprised of utensils for serving and consuming nearly every food imaginable, to accompany the glittering and extravagant dinner parties of the age. An art all their own, today these sets are prized not just for their opulence, but also their remarkably quality and craftsmanship.

This service for 24 features rare pieces such as orange knives and spoons and a cheese server

This service for 24 features rare pieces such as orange knives and spoons and a cheese server

Tiffany began to gain international recognition abroad as the breadth of their output grew in the late 19th century. At the 1878 Paris World’s Fair under the directly of John C. Moore, Tiffany became the first American firm to earn the Grand Prize for Excellence in silver.  The spotlight soon became a familiar place for Tiffany. By creating some of the grandest flatware sets imaginable, Tiffany led the way as the unchallenged master of the silver craft in the United States. Yet, it was not just international acclaim that brought Tiffany its fame, but a sterling reputation for high quality flatware and exquisite designs.

Regarded as extraordinary treasures of American silver today, Tiffany pieces – along with other quality silver – do require periodic maintenance and proper storage. When owning a large flatware set such as this Tiffany English King flatware set, consider the array of pieces the require care. From gilt salad servers and grapefruit spoons to terrapin knives and nut picks, all 664 utensils in this set require some upkeep to fully appreciate the intricacy of the renowned English King design. Simple, habitual care for your flatware set is the most efficient way to keep your silver in pristine condition.

Introduced in 1885, English King is among Tiffany's most prized and beautiful patterns

Introduced in 1885, English King is among Tiffany’s most prized and beautiful patterns

The first step in caring for your silver flatware is keeping the natural tarnishing processes of silver at bay. Though it is the most common way your silver loses its shine, tarnish is one of the easiest things to treat and remove. Caused by exposure to air, more tarnish occurs in damper environments, so keeping you silver properly stored in a dry environment is the best way to avoid tarnishing. Yet, if it does occur use a soft cloth and polish to restore shine to your silver. When choosing a polish, pay close attention to the techniques and directions for each one. Creams, for example, take at least an hour to dry. If using a cream on a piece with an intricate design such as the English King, be sure to remove all excess polish in the swirling low reliefs of the pattern on each utensil.

Cotton wadding is also a convenient and effective way to remove tarnish. Pre-treat your cotton with silver cleaner and simply buff the surface of your flatware with the wadding. This technique proves highly effective for engraved and chased silver pieces with various intricacies. If short on time, a simple silver cloth will easily remove any finger prints and smudges while enhancing the shine. After properly cleaning, store your silver in lined cabinets or treated cloth.

The Tiffany legacy and their classic designs have stood the test of time – with a little care and attention, so too can your prized silver pieces.

 

 

 

Glitz and Glamour: Art Deco Jewelry

April 11th, 2016 | posted by Susan Lapene

Glitzy. Glamourous. Flamboyant. The Roaring 20s were a period of evolving fashion and sparkling society. For many, this decade evokes ostentatious “Gatsby-esque” celebrations, as well as the birth of mass culture, jazz music, and the ‘new woman’. The onset of new fashion trends that broke all the rules mimicked the changing society as a whole, and those changes continue to reverberate through the decades.

The exceptional Art Deco bracelet features approximately 21.75 carats of diamonds

The exceptional Art Deco bracelet features approximately 21.75 carats of diamonds

Following the Great War, culture in the United States experienced a seismic shift into the modern era. Monumental skyscrapers soared above cities, and the brilliant sheen of steel that seemed to nearly swallow New York City. Airplanes and automobiles made travel easier than ever before. The rapidly changing culture expanded throughout all aspects of life: politics, social issues, and even fashion. As society shrugged off the final vestiges of Victorian era culture, modern women traded in their old-fashioned corsets for the low waistlines and loose silhouettes that today epitomize the flapper style.

A rare Art Deco period brooch that boasts 16.25 carats of diamonds

A rare Art Deco period brooch that boasts 16.25 carats of diamonds

The opulence and abandon during the 1920s certainly shows American glamour at its height. Coupled with the push and pull of the ever stimulating new metropolis, fashion now established itself as ultra-feminine and chic. This streamlined style was seen throughout the aesthetic culture of the age, becoming what we know today as Art Deco. In this emerald and diamond bracelet, the striking effects of geometry and symmetry are most evident. This piece reflects designs reduced to its rudimentary geometric essence, resulting in cleaner style, yet still incorporating brilliant colored stones for vibrant effect.

The streamlined and stylish Art Deco design of this exquisite pin is bedecked in sparkling diamonds and simmering emeralds

The streamlined and stylish Art Deco design of this exquisite pin is bedecked in sparkling diamonds and simmering emeralds

Inspired, in part, by society’s new adoration of technology and architectural design, Art Deco jewelry mimicked the streamlined aesthetics of these crisp angular and geometric styles.  This statement period diamond brooch fully embraces this new “cosmopolitan chic” which surged with popularity. Reverberating with the crisp angles, symmetry, and high stylization of the Art Deco style, it represents the exuberant spirit of the culture.

A stunning rubellite tourmaline is at the center of this striking cocktail ring

A stunning rubellite tourmaline is at the center of this striking cocktail ring

 

 

 

 

 

The interpretation of the Art Deco style varied widely, from emphasizing separate aspects to depictions of different themes. For some, this interpretation resulted in energetic colors and accents; for others, this meant emphasizing jewelry’s intrinsic, graceful values, like in this elegant emerald and diamond pin. However, for many savvy and modern jewelers, this interpretation resulted in large scale pieces and gemstones. For instance, this rubellite cocktail ring brings a unique example of the taste and personality of Art Deco characteristics. At a monumental 16.12cts, the rubellite gemstone reflects the exuberance of the 1920s culture. Almost certainly worn as a cocktail ring, it is the epitome of the free-flowing personality and high style of the time.

Now, more than ever, Art Deco pieces have experienced a particularly popular resurgence in the jewelry world – movies such as The Great Gatsby glorify the high-spirited Jazz Age and all the glamour that came with it. Exploring the boundaries of geometry in a way that is both stylish and fun, Art Deco jewelry reflects the confidence of its age. Classic, yet bold, Art Deco designs remain one of the most enduring sought after styles of the last century.

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