Dallas Museum of Art Presents Groundbreaking Modern Silver Exhibition

Modernism in American Silver: 20th Century Design, a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the aesthetic richness and cultural significance of modern silver design in America between 1925 and 2000 will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Art June 18 through Sept. 24, 2006, and will serve as a major contribution to decorative arts scholarship and as a touchstone for future projects in the field.

The exhibition, organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, features more than 200 magnificent works mostly from the Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, which is part of the Museum’s permanent collection and the world’s most significant collection of modern silver. The works explore the creative development of the American silver industry’s creative forays into modernist design. Kevin W. Tucker, The Margaret B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design of the Dallas Museum of Art, is the project director and co-curator. Jewel Stern, an independent scholar and Charles Venable, Deputy Director for Collections and Programs at Cleveland Museum of Art, are co-curators.

“This is the first major exhibition to examine modernism’s transformation of the definition of progressive silver design from the late 1920s through the end of the century,” Tucker said. “Including the work of noted designers, as well as a host of heretofore little-known participants within the industry, the exhibition examines the significance of a largely dismissed era in manufactured silver and logically extends the Dallas Museum of Art’s previous scholarly efforts in the field of American silver.”

The primary goal of Modernism in American Silver is to chart the stylistic design history of modern American production silver. The exhibition will also explore economic and cultural factors that influenced silver design, manufacture and marketing across more than seven decades and seven major thematic areas:

The Modernist Impulse: Art Moderne

The Machine Age: Streamline Design

Modern Classicism

Naturalism: Scandinavian Influences

A New Look: Free Form and the 1950s

Future Dreams: The Space Age

The Boutique: Architects and Fashion Designers

The exhibition includes the works of widely recognized designers such as Eliel Saarinen, Robert Venturi, Michael Graves, Elsa Peretti and Richard Meier, and also will offer important revelations concerning the role of designers such as John Prip, Robert King, John Van Koert, Donald Colflesh and Tommi Parzinger, and a host of individuals whom were seldom recognized by the general public. Many of the works featured in the exhibition are from the Dallas Museum of Art’s Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, the world’s most significant collection of modern American silver.

In addition to the exhibition, a book of the same title, authored by Jewel Stern and edited by Tucker and Venable, thoroughly catalogues the works and serves as an immensely important resource on American silver—more extensive than any other of its kind currently available. Beginning in the 1920s with the growing fascination in progressive European works, the Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design catalogue will detail all aspects of the American silver industry’s efforts to capture the market for modern design, resulting in a richer understanding of the transformation of the American silver industry and its explorations of various movements and styles. Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design, published by Yale University Press, is 392 pages and contains more than 300 color photographs.

The national tour of Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery (Sept. 16, 2005 to Jan. 22, 2006) followed by the Nevada Museum of Art (Feb. 11 through May 14, 2006). After Dallas, the exhibition travels to The Wolfsonian – Florida International University, Miami (Nov. 17, 2006 to March 25, 2007), and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis (April 22 to July 15, 2007).

Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art

The exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. American Masterpieces is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts supporting exhibitions, performances, and educational activities throughout the United States. Publication of the exhibition catalogue was underwritten by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

Additional support provided by the Judith and Richard Bressler/The Bressler Foundation, Ajax Foundation, General Mills Foundation, and the Donor Circle Membership Program through leadership gifts by Joan and Irvin Levy, and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas. The opening event is sponsored by PaperCity. Promotional support provided by The Dallas Morning News.

Silver at the Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art seriously began collecting silver in 1987 with the gift of the Hoblitzelle Collection of English silver. This collection joined the Museum’s holdings of Victorian-era silver including ornate serving pieces by Tiffany, Gorham, and Whiting. In 1989, the Museum purchased several pieces from the sale of the Sam Wagstaff Collection including the Gorham’s iconic iceberg bowl and a Tiffany Chrysanthemum pitcher.

By the late 1990s the Museum acquired the Belmont-Rothschild humidor by Tiffany and the dressing table and stool Gorham made for the 1900 Paris Exposition and other important pieces that began to shape the Museum’s collection.

In the summer of 2002, the Dallas Museum of Art acquired the most important private collection of 20th-century American silver in existence: The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection. Assembled over two decades by scholar Jewel Stern, the collection consists of more than 400 pieces of industrially produced American silver. The addition of this magnificent collection gives the Dallas Museum of Art one of the most significant holdings of late 19th- and 20th-century American silver in the world and solidifies the Museum’s position as a leading center for collecting and scholarship in this field.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
The 23,000 works of art in the Museum’s encyclopedic collections span 5,000 years of history and represent all media with renowned strengths in the arts of the ancient Americas, Africa, Indonesia and South Asia; European and American painting, sculpture and decorative arts; and American and international contemporary art.

The Dallas Museum of Art is the anchor of the Dallas Arts District and serves as the cultural magnet for the city with diverse programming ranging from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings, dramatic and dance presentations, and a full spectrum of programs designed to engage people of all ages with the power and excitement of art.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.