Spanish version

The Art of Cartier at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Carmen Cervera and Bernard Fornás
Carmen Cervera, baroness Thyssen, and Bernard Fornas

Until February 17th the exhibition The Art of Cartier will offer us the opportunity to admire some of the most precious works of art that have been produced at Cartier. The exhibition has been sponsored by Telefonica. Curators are Guillermo Solana, artistic director of the Museum and Jorge Varela, designer and responsible of the mise-en-scene. It has also been  possible thanks to the support given by team of the Cartier Collection in Paris and Geneva, lead by Pierre Rainero, director of Image, Patrimony of Cartier and Oliver Gay and Simoneta Gomez Acebo of Cartier Spain. The presentation was also attended by baroness Thyssen, Carmen Cervera, Carlota Casiraghi and Bernard Fornas, president of Cartier International.

The exhibition has been divided into different sections referring to historical moments or styles of Cartier.

  • From Apprentice to Rue de la Paix

    After working for the jeweler Adolphe Picars for several years,  Louis Francois Cartier (1819-1904), decided to open his own establishment. He had more and more clients, especially among the nobility.
    A decisive turning point was when empress Eugenia de Montijo ordered a silver tea service.
    In 1874, Alfred Cartier (1841-1925), took over the business from his father..
    In 1860 the diamond mines in South Africa were discovered. This changed the world of jewelery.

    Another important aspect
    was the growing importance of bourgeoisie. Bankers, financiers and and industrialists wanted to imitate the nobility and reach their social status. This could only mean more income for Cartier.  During this time the Louis XVI or Garland style was the most popular one. It lasted until World War I. The pieces had settings in gold and silver. Cartier introduced a new metal: platinum which allowed to make lighter settings creating diamond laces and garlands.
    Other relevant pieces of the first years of the XXth century were the diadems (closed) and tiaras (semicircular and open), most of them made of platinum and almost always made to order.

Rinceaux Tiara

  • Modern Styke and Art Decó

    In the beginnning of the XXth century two Cartier delegations were opened in London and New York. The first one was lead by Jacques Cartier (1884-1941) and the second one by Pierre Cartier (1878-1964).
    Louis Cartier wanted to improve his business and decided to abandon the Garland style. They presented geometric and abstract designs in pret a porter pieces like brooches.
    Louis Cartier was impressed by the colour of the Russian Ballet that was quite sucessful in Paris. He started mixing precious stones of different colours. He liked the contrast made by using onyx (black) and diamonds as it made their colours livelier.
    From  1910 to 1930 he frequently used polished rock crystal which gave the pieces more light.

    Most of the pieces were rectangular.
    In 1914 one of Cartier's icons appeared: the panther skin design made of onyx and diamonds.
  • Oriental Influences
    Looking for new inspirations, the Cartier brothers travelled all over the world presenting afterwords Art Deco pieces inspired by Egyptian, Persian and Indian culture and creating unique pieces, among them the beetle brooch or cigarette cases with oriental ornaments.
  • Precious Time, Precious Objects

    Since its beginnings Cartier made watches and wristwatches. In act, in 1911, they commercialized the first wristwatch called Santos Watch. It got its name from the Brasilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont because it was made especially for him. It had a face that allowed him to see what time it was even when piloting his plane.

Snake Necklace. 1968
  • Fauna and Flora

    Louis Cartier had met Jeanne Toussaint some years before he decided to retire and he appointed her director of the Jewelery Department of Cartier Paris. She worked there until the 1960's stamping her own style to the new creations inspired by the haut couture of designers like Dior or Balenciaga. The Art Deco geometry became works inspired by nature full of imagination. Birds, butterflies, turtles or panthers turnt into unique brooches or necklaces. 

The exhibition is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday and Sundays from  10:00 to 19:00. Saturdays from  10:00 to 22:00.

Photographies: Rafael Castañeda Fotografía

Source: El arte de Cartier, Catalogue, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2012

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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