A fascinating and optimistic time in history when music, art, architecture and society took on a transformation of unconventional ideas while maintaining a sense of elegance. We’re drawn to the breathtaking time of excitement and hopefulness wanting to explore for ourselves these wonderful delicacies.
Music was electric and captivated our senses. Everyone knew of Gershwin, Cole Porter and Maurice Ravel. But it was French entertainers like Ada “Bricktop” Smith and the great Josephine Baker who performed nightly to Paris audiences. When Jazz arrived, it was overwhelmingly accepted by the Parisians. It allowed people like Josephine Baker to become a star.
Inspirational developments included Art Deco design and architecture. The Art Deco aesthetic was wonderfully sleek and streamlined with symmetrical and geometric designs. It’s character was seen in everything from furniture, fashion to jewelry.
As a society, the sense of excitement came from freedoms of individuality such as hand holding, free flowing dresses and beautiful jewelry. It gave permission to define who you want to be.
Welcome to Eve J Alfille Gallery & Studio’s new jewelry series, “Jazz Age”. Take a moment to explore the thoughts, inspirations and creations of the Artist’s Statement.
In French schools, the recent past is not taught: too fresh to be history, it may revive controversy. So my high school classes learned all about Versailles and the Baroque style, but nothing about Art Deco, or jazz. Though ‘The Jazz Age’ usually denotes a period in the late 1920’s, its great innovations in style extended long past the 1929 crash. The elegance of Art Deco, coupled with its practicality and relative simplicity, “suggesting better times”, still speaks to us today.
As a child, what had impressed me was the wild romanticism of Art Nouveau, the Paris Metro entrances, the soaring street lights with their sweeping curves. On the other hand, I had nothing but contempt for my parents’ 1940’s furniture, with their restrained, stylized curves, the symmetry and repetition of the little corner motifs, chevrons carved and inlaid in contrasting wood. A frisson ran down my spine recently when, in a 2012 auction catalog I spied those exact armchairs, an Art Deco exemplar, quoted for an extremely handsome sum! How I wish I
had them now!
We revere the elegance of this style: ever modern, it can be treated sumptuously with rare materials, like the inlaid Jean Dunand screen I almost bought in Switzerland in 1981, when we spent a couple of years in Geneva, and my mother-in-law’s diamond brooch. But it had also formed a background of our growing years in its more humble interpretations, the facades of the movie theaters in our small towns, the old Philco radios with the pleated wood cases, the streamline toasters of our early years.
I love the functionality, the stylishness: Art Deco is above all a way of seeing, it looks at the pure geometry of everyday objects, the sun, fountains, ocean liners, the pyramids, and translates them into flat decorative motifs that are at once restrained and joyous! For me, what inspired my current Jazz Age series is the particular duality of the style: how it makes room for both movement and repose, exuberance and severity, inspiration from current times and times past. What other decorative style can throw together speedy trains and ancient pyramids, maybe both in the same piece?
In this series, I have to remind myself to proceed past restraint: it’s permitted to be joyous, even with nothing but the black, white and gray diamonds and pearls! And no problem letting rubies in, just remember to color within the lines! So we will work from both ends, the pastels of moonstones, Ceylon sapphires and opals, and the glorious reds, oranges and yellows of jades, citrines, topaz and rubies. I design, hearing the jazz of Coltrane and Davis, the coolness and the splendor alternating. White gold and palladium for coolness, blush gold for delicacy, all are playing a role in my new Jazz Age series.