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A sophisticated and beautiful Mid-Century modernist copper and brass pendant by Art Smith, c.1950’s
A wonderful large copper and brass pendant made by the brilliant mid-century modernist New York City jeweler, Art Smith (1917-1982). Born in Cuba of Jamaican parents, Art Smith emigrated to New York City when he was three years old. From 1946 to 1979, he had a tiny storefront shop in Greenwich Village where he made most of his marvelous and highly-inventive jewelry working largely in brass and copper due to financial restraints and only very rarely in silver or gold, and generally then just for commissioned pieces.
Today, Smith is considered to have been one of the leading Modernist jewelers of the 20th Century.
In recognition, The Brooklyn Museum put on a major retrospective exhibition of Art Smith’s work in 2008. This large pendant dates to around the 1950's and is an absolutely wild and wonderful construction of brass and copper which has been blackened or patinated in certain areas to create and reinforce the feeling of depth
and relief from front to back.
“A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a ‘what is it?’ until you relate it to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form.”
Quotation source and © Wikipedia
It looks like a “Sun Medallion” of sorts with concentric metal “rays” emanating outwards from the round central core. There are three separate sections of these metal “rays” made of brass and copper, which form the design. The overall artistic sophistication and level of technical expertise shown in the piece are outstanding.
The pendant measures a considerable 3 3/8” in height including the bail and 3” in width. It weighs a very comfortable 26 grams or 7/8 ounce. It is signed “Art Smith” on the reverse in the artist’s customary cursive signature and it is in excellent original condition. The pendant is strung on a woven black silk jewelry cord although it could readily be worn on a silver or gold chain or leather thong, if ever desired.
This is a unique and completely wearable piece by a completely unique and totally original artist.
To view our website listing of another Art Smith brass and copper pendant,
Art Smith at work in his shop, c. 1940's
Photo source and © Ganoskin, photo by Ralph E. Morgan