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Life & Style

Dallas Museum of Art opens exhibit on Islamic art in collaboration with Cartier

Published May 18, 2022
Bib necklace, Cartier Paris, special order, 1947. Nils Herrmann, Collection Cartier © Cartier.
Bib necklace, Cartier Paris, special order, 1947. Nils Herrmann, Collection Cartier © Cartier.

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has welcomed a new exhibit titled ‘Cartier and Islamic Art: In search of Modernity,’ that will run until September 18, 2022.

The exhibit will focus on the influence of Islamic art on objects and jewelry created by Louis Cartier and designers of the famed French Maison, tracing back to the early 20th century until present day.

Louis Cartier, a partner and eventual director of Cartier’s Paris branch, has also remained a collector of Islamic art.

He came across Islamic art through various sources, including 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, including a pivotal exhibition of masterpieces of Islamic art in Munich in 1910.

This current exhibition through scholarly research and visual juxtapositions, will explore how Cartier’s designers adapted forms and techniques from Islamic art, architecture, and jewelry, as well as materials from India, Iran and the Arab countries, converting them into them into a modern pieces unique to the house of Cartier.

These references include a range from geometric to naturalistic forms and Chinese designs (cloud collars and interlocking shapes) that were naturalised in the Islamic lands under the Mongol and Timurid rulers of the Middle East and India since the 13th century.

The exhibit is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Museé des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, in partnership with the Maison Cartier, Cartier and Islamic Art will feature over 400 objects from major international collections, including the Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum and the Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art.

“For over a century, Cartier and its designers have recognized and celebrated the inherent beauty and symbolic values found in Islamic art and architecture, weaving similar elements into their own designs. This bridging of Eastern and Western art forms speaks exactly to the kinds of cross-cultural connections the DMA is committed to highlighting through our programming and scholarship,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director.

“Not only does this exhibition present our audiences with the opportunity to explore Cartier’s dazzling designs, but it also spotlights the strength of our powerhouse Islamic Art and Decorative Arts and Design departments, as well as those of our colleagues at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Louvre,” she stated

In the early 20th century, Cartier and his designers began to experiment with new modes of design, looking to Japanese textiles, Chinese jades, Indian jewelry along with the breadth of arts and architecture of the Islamic world to expand upon the “garland style” that had brought success to the house at the turn of the 20th century.

Louis Cartier’s own collection of Persian and Indian paintings, manuscripts, and other luxury objects - reconstructed in this exhibition for the first time in nearly 80 years - also became inspiration for these new designs.

Together, these influences would be essential to the development of a new aesthetic that would later be known as 'Art Deco' at Cartier.

The exhibit will bring together over 400 objects from the DMA’s own holdings and other major international collections, Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity presenting an opportunity to encounter a wide array of iconic Cartier objects along with their original sources of inspiration.

The exhibition showcases works of Cartier jewelry and luxury objects alongside historical photographs, design drawings, archival materials, and works of Islamic art, including those displayed in the Paris and Munich exhibitions and in Louis’s own collection, as well as works bearing motifs that would become part of Cartier’s lexicon of forms.

Additionally, digital technologies will offer insight into the creative process at the Maison, from an original source object to a motif, to its adaptation as a jewelry design, and finally to its execution in metal, stones, and organic materials.

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