Art Jewelry and Art History: Tiffany and Wright
As a student of art history and a lover of art jewelry and metalsmithing, I often find myself reminded of artists or pieces from my art studies when looking at art jewelry. I thought it would be fun to start a new series of posts where I share a little about a jewelry artist or piece and give an intro to the artist or work from art history with which I sense a compliment or connection.
For the second post in this series, we will be looking at the historical artist Louis Comfort Tiffany and the contemporary Art Jeweler, Carly Wright.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 - 1933) was a New York-based artist that was associated with one of my favorite movements, Art Nouveau, and is likely the most famous stained glass artist to have ever lived. He not only made amazing stained glass but also worked in jewelry and was actually the first Design Director at his father’s company, Tiffany & Co.
Carly Wright is contemporary studio art jewelry designer with over 35 years of experience exhibiting in nationally juried shows. She also resides in New York, but where Tiffany was in the city, Wright is based in upstate where she lives surrounded by the nature that inspires her work. Wright is best known as an enamelist and creates a limited production line as well as one-of-a-kind pieces.
Nature is one of the dominate inspirations for both Tiffany and for Wright.
Tiffany’s use of nature was a fairly direct interpretation by today’s standards, but he was always looking for elements of his glass so that he could create a more impressionistic view with the use of the glass and its patterns, flaws, etc. This was in contrast to the common approach of the time, painting on the glass to achieve the desired results for imagery. You can see in the image below how the patterns that exist in the glass itself and the blocking of colors are used to give the impression of hills, stone, water, etc.
Carly Wright is also greatly influenced by nature and gets the inspiration for much of her work while exploring the beautiful landscapes and rock formations of upstate New York. Wright takes her inspiration, however, and simplifies it down to pure shape, color, and texture. It is as though Tiffany’s exploration of simplifying form from representative painting into the more abstracted concepts of shape, color, and texture that are created in the glass itself has been simplified even further in Wright’s work.
Both artists work predominantly in glass that is held inside a metal framework.
Tiffany is best known as a stained glass artist because he was able to push forward and revolutionize the techniques and approaches people used with that format. Tiffany developed many new types of glass to capture the impressions of the elements he is representing. He is also known for improving the level of detail and structure possible with stained glass thanks to his development of the “copper foil” technique.
While Tiffany created glass sheets to then be cut and soldered together inside a copper framework, Wright instead creates sterling silver channels, known as the “Champlévé” method, that she fills with powdered enamel that she then fires to create the glass within the metal sections.
Many customers right away think of stained glass when they come into the shop and see the work of Carly Wright and you can see why. While Wright is definitely a streamlined and modern take on what was happening in the work of Tiffany, there is still a line you can draw between the artist of 100 years ago and the work of Wright today. To learn more about Wright, you can check out our site or visit us in our store. The best place to see and engage with the work of Tiffany, in my opinion, is the Morse Museum in the Orlando area (in Winter Park, Florida).