DMA hosts the exhibition Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity

Head ornament, Cartier New York, 1924.

Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is currently hosting the exhibition titled Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity (May 14 – September 18).

This is a major event, tracing the inspirations of Islamic art and design, including Louis Cartier’s exquisite collection of Persian and Indian art and the work of Maison Cartier designers from the early 20th century. century to the present day.

DMA is an art museum located in the downtown arts district of Dallas, Texas, United States. Co-organized by DMA and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, in collaboration with the Musée du Louvre and with the support of Maison Cartier, the exhibition brings together more than 400 objects from the collections of Cartier, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs ( Paris), the Louvre Museum, the Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art, and other major international collections.

Through visual juxtapositions and new scientific research, the exhibition explores how Cartier designers adapted forms and techniques from Islamic art, architecture and jewelry, as well as materials from India, from Iran and the Arab lands, synthesizing them in a modern and recognizable stylistic language, unique to the Cartier house.

The American premiere in Dallas follows its presentation at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (Oct. 21, 2021 – Feb. 20, 2022).

AMD 2 Headband from Cartier Paris, 1922.

“For more than a century, Cartier and its designers have recognized and celebrated the inherent beauty and symbolic values ​​of Islamic art and architecture, incorporating similar elements into their own creations,” said Dr Agustin. Arteaga, Director Eugene McDermott of DMA. “Centered through the prism of Islamic art, it reveals how the Maison migrates and manifests these styles over time, as well as how they are shaped by individual creativity,” said Sarah Schleuning, co-organizer of the exposure. She is the Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at DMA.

The exhibition explores the origins of the Islamic influence on Cartier through the cultural context of Paris at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and the figure of Louis J. Cartier (1875-1942), partner and eventual director of the Paris branch of Cartier, and a collector of Islamic art. Louis encountered Islamic arts through various sources, including the major exhibitions of Islamic art in Paris in 1903 and 1912 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which were held to inspire new forms of modern design, and a pivotal exhibition of masterpieces of Islamic art in Munich. in 1910.

Paris was also a major marketplace for Islamic art and a gathering place for collectors. It was during this time that Cartier and its designers began to experiment with new modes of design, turning to Japanese textiles, Chinese jade, Indian jewelry, and the arts and architecture of the Islamic world, to develop the “garland style” that had brought success to the house at the turn of the 20th century.

Louis’ own collection of Persian and Indian paintings, manuscripts and other luxury objects – reconstructed in this exhibition for the first time in almost 80 years – also served as inspiration for these new designs, and together these influences would be essential to the development of a new aesthetic called “modern style” then “Art deco” at Cartier.

Bringing together more than 400 objects from the DMA’s own funds and other major international collections, Cartier and Islamic Art offers the opportunity to encounter not only a wide range of Cartier’s emblematic objects, but also their sources of original inspiration.

AMD 3 Tiara, Cartier London, special order, 1936.

The exhibition features works of Cartier jewelry and luxury items alongside historic photographs, design drawings, archival documents and works of Islamic art, including those featured in the exhibitions in Paris and from Munich and in Louis’ own collection, as well as works bearing motifs that would be part of Cartier’s lexicon of shapes.

Additionally, digital animations created by renowned studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) offer insight into the Maison’s creative process, from an original source object to a pattern, to its adaptation as a jewelry design, and finally to its execution in metal, stones and organic materials.

Artwork on display includes a range from geometric to naturalistic shapes and Chinese designs (cloud collars and interlocking shapes) which were naturalized in Islamic lands under the Mongol and Timurid rulers of the Middle East and India since the thirteenth century. The exhibition also addresses the material and technical sources of inspiration from the travels of Louis’s youngest brother, Jacques, to India and Bahrain at the beginning of the 20th century.

Discoveries gleaned from these travels stimulated the use of new color combinations drawn from Islamic sources – one of the most distinctive aspects of house designs in the early 20th century.

The exhibition traces each of these stylistic developments, links them to actual or probable Islamic sources, and reveals the expertise of the jeweler’s eye in mediating form and creating some of Cartier’s most renowned and recognizable styles today. today. Cartier and Islamic Art is co-curated by Dr. Heather Ecker, former Marguerite S. Hoffman and Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic and Medieval Art at the DMA; Evelyne Posseme, chief curator of ancient and modern jewelery at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; and Judith Henon, Curator and Deputy Director of the Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum, Paris. The exhibit design is by DS+R, which has created a contemporary display that provides better opportunities for observation and analysis of the form. The show’s main sponsor is PNC Bank.

James C. Tibbs