Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures  |  Adult
Boston  |  Portland  |  Providence
Books  |  Comedy  |  Dance  |  Museum And Gallery  |  Theater

Flora, fauna, and the female figure

Art Nouveau Jewelry at the MFA, ‘Players’ on MIT’s Media Test Wall, and ‘Nascent’ at NESAD
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  July 15, 2008
Emmanuel-Jules-Joseph [Joë] Descomps, Necklace with a female head and a sphinx (circa 1900)

“Imperishable Beauty: Art Nouveau Jewelry” at Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | July 23–November 9 | 617.267.9300

“Players” at MIT List Visual Arts Center’s Media Test Wall, Whitaker Building, 21 Ames St, Cambridge | July 21–September 5 | 617.253.4400

“Nascent” at New England School of Art & Design, 75 Arlington St, Boston | July 25–August 23 | 617.573.8785
Colorful and sensual, inspired by nature’s curves and the flat visual plane of Japanese woodblock prints, the Art Nouveau movement of the late-19th/early-20th century distanced itself from Victorian and Edwardian traditionalism and the mass production of the Industrial Revolution with elaborate, one-of-a-kind works made from unusual materials. Opening at the Museum of Fine Arts on July 23, “IMPERISHABLE BEAUTY: ART NOUVEAU JEWELRY” traces the history of the style as it influenced jewelry making, with more than 100 tiny works by the likes of French artists René Lalique, George Fouquet, Eugene Feuillatre, and Lucien Gaillard, from Germany’s related Jugendstil (“youth style”), and from Belgium, Spain, and Russia, as well as by Americans like Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Eschewing the staid, diamond-and-platinum oriented adornments of the day, Art Nouveau jewelers turned to yellow gold, irregularly shaped Baroque pearls, iridescent opals, horn, ivory, and even plastic, and they used enameling techniques — champlevé, cloisonné, plique-à-jour — to add color and light. Their designs evoked the natural world through images of flora, fauna, and nymph-like women. Swans and peacocks come to mini-life next to cherry blossoms, creeping vines, female sphinxes, and marsh fairies — all crafted into brooches, necklaces, hair ornaments, and the belt buckles favored by stylish, wasp-waisted women at the turn of the last century.

Tennis-star rivals Björn Borg and John McEnroe play the role of belligerent protagonists in Peter Sis’s hand-drawn animated short film “PLAYERS.” Made in 1982 and billed as “a pre-perestroika animated satire about human aggression,” it hits MIT’s Media Test Wall beginning July 21. The Czech-born Sis is best known for his children’s books and illustrations, but he began his career in 1975 making animated films, and in 1983 he collaborated with Bob Dylan on “Gotta Serve Somebody” for MTV. In “Players,” which was directed by John Halas, with music by Czech composer Jirí Stivín, Sis mixes pop culture with historic images of war, as the tennis ball morphs into a variety of weapons, precipitating the appearance of Tarzan, a Visigoth, warriors on elephants, French revolutionaries, and, ultimately, nuclear weaponry.

Five recent Boston-area art-school graduates are the subjects of “NASCENT,” which opens at the New England School of Art & Design Gallery on July 25. Work by Mike Farley, Cathleen Faubert, Georgie Friedman, Pete Froslie, and Lizzy Martinez is showcased in an exhibition curated by NESAD Gallery director and long-time Boston art-world denizen James Manning.

On the Web
Museum of Fine Arts: 
MIT List Visual Arts Center:
New England School of Art & Design:


  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Museum of Fine Arts , England School of Art , Test Wall ,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print

election special
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN . . .  |  September 17, 2008
    ‘Language Of Color’ at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, ‘Speaker Project’ at MassArt, Cathy McLaurin at Montserrat
  •   DOLLHOUSES AND DREAM STATES  |  September 11, 2008
    Memory, sound, time, and toothpicks define the season
  •   THE NATURE OF THE BEAST  |  September 10, 2008
    Kevin Hooyman’s ‘Dark Walk’ at Proof, ‘The Exquisite Line’ at BU, ‘Material Meditation’ at The New Art Center
  •   I AM I SAID  |  September 03, 2008
    ‘Empire and Its Discontents’ and more at Tufts; ‘Re-View’ and visiting faculty at Harvard; GASP’s Fourth Anniversary
  •   TIME BOMBS  |  August 27, 2008
    ‘Atomic Afterimage’ at Bu, Foreclosures and Risk Structures at MIT, and the Cultural DMZ At Simmons

 See all articles by: RANDI HOPKINS

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

Featured Articles in Museum And Gallery:
Wednesday, September 17, 2008  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2008 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group