Jean Després

Jean Després

Jeweler, Maker and Designer of the Machine Age

  1. Melissa Gabardi
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  • ISBN 9780500514788
  • 30.50 x 22.90 cm
  • Hardback
  • 248pp
  • 341 Illustrations, 234 in colour
  • First published 2009
‘Will delight both new admirers and seasoned connoisseurs alike’ – Antiques Info
‘This sumptuous volume will delight both new admirers and seasoned connoisseurs alike … a lavishly illustrated tribute.’ – Antiques Diary

Jean Després was an Art Deco jewelry designer whose name has come to stand for the most dynamic of 20th-century styles. This definitive celebration of his work will delight new admirers and seasoned connoisseurs alike.

Capturing the streamlined, modern aesthetic of the age of the machine and transforming it into objects of great beauty, Després has always been the jeweler of choice for informed collectors and insiders: Josephine Baker was an early admirer, and Andy Warhol’s collection was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in 1988.

As a young man, Després came to know avant-garde artists in Paris, including Léger, De Chirico and Braque. After the outbreak of war in 1914 he worked on the industrial design of aeroplanes, and he transferred this experience and inspiration into the jewelry business.

Després used geometric motifs in his designs, and in the 1930s embarked on a notable collaboration with the glass painter Étienne Cournault. Després went on to create a range of tableware and decorative objects in gold, silver and pewter, whose bold, industrial looks were uncompromisingly modern, yet always graceful and refined.

Many drawings and designs are reproduced here for the first time, showing Després’s creative process and, benefiting from a wealth of fine archive material, the original photographs are accompanied by a large number of new photographs taken specially for the book.

Melissa Gabardi is an historian of the decorative arts and a specialist in 20th-century jewelry. She co-curated the exhibition Bijoux Art déco et avant-garde. Jean Després et les bijoutiers modernes at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. She has written extensively about jewelry of the 1940s and 1950s as well as the Art Deco period. She teaches at the Istituto Europeo del Design, and divides her time between Italy and France.