It was a memorably mind-altering day, some ten years in the past, once I first met the elusive, enigmatic artist Daniel Brush, and his spouse and muse Olivia, of their huge Manhattan loft condominium. I like to retell the second Brush emerged from his city jungle of vintage guilloché machines, wearing his floor-length leather-based apron, big leather-based gauntlets and magnifying goggles on an iron band pushed up over his forehead.
Much more memorable is the second, many visits and plenty of stimulating conversations later, when Brush requested if I’d write a ebook about his jewels and jewel sculptures. There had, till then, been books on his work, on his complete canon, however nothing devoted totally to his jewels.
It felt like a implausible alternative, but in addition an enormous duty, to do justice to Brush’s awe-inspiring work as a goldsmith and jeweller, to convey the breadth, depth and complexity of his pondering, the philosophy and idiosyncratic world-view that underpins, informs and shapes his work. It’s finest summed up, maybe, when he says, ‘Jewelry is a automobile to get nearer to the gods, a conduit to permit goals into our lives, into the maze of all of it.’
Daniel Brush is eccentric, obsessive, reclusive and intense, with a mighty mind and a childlike pleasure, critical but playful; a fanatical collector, of objects as assorted as medieval scissors, Victorian snuff packing containers and Nineteen Seventies watches, and an avid pupil of topics as numerous as Japanese Noh theatre and Beat poets. He’s extraordinary, too, in that, as a goldsmith and jeweller, engraver, diamond-setter, he’s totally self-taught. And regardless of the ingenuity of his abilities, he believes that if the item ‘speaks with readability’, the craftsmanship ought to fully disappear. It’s lightness of spirit, not virtuosity, that he seeks.
Brush has a uncommon capability to maneuver between artistic disciplines, to be high quality artist, sculptor, goldsmith, metalworker, jeweller, poet and set up artist, all with equal ardour and reverence. Because of this, his jewels defy categorisation. He started making jewels as a interest, as respite from the bodily calls for of his large-scale work and sculptures. He had been captivated by gold since seeing an Etruscan gold bowl within the V&A Museum as a younger boy on a go to to London along with his mom.
So, within the Nineteen Eighties, he began his journey in jewelry by tackling the traditional Etruscan strategy of granulation, soldering minute gold grains to a gold floor. Having mastered this near-mystical ability, he moved on to extra conceptual, sculptural works utilizing metal, usually melding its darkish toughness with the illuminating softness of gold. He progressed to working in stainless-steel after which aluminium, metals that fascinated him for his or her power, historical past and engineering connotations, which enabled him to debunk what he calls the ‘complete assemble’ of the intrinsic worth of gems.
He taught himself the artwork of engraving, in his attribute obsessive approach, learning for years, studying the intricacies of banknote engraving, making his personal instruments, exploring and experimenting. Till out of those industrial, masculine and mundane metals, he was in a position to coax and conjure up divine gentle, silky sensuality, natural or graphic line and type and beautiful, thought-provoking jewels and objects. Line, gentle and depth of which means run like leitmotifs via the assorted collection of jewels charted within the ebook. As soon as Brush finds an idea, a ‘huge concept’ that challenges him, he works feverishly, handcrafting tons of in every collection, every jewel or object particular person, but linked in its message.
The ebook is organized thematically, every chapter unravelling and reconstructing the meandering ideas, the mercurial concepts behind every collection, charting the journeys into historical past, into Mughal India or Imperial China, into Brush’s febrile creativeness and worlds past.
There are the lilting, poetic metal poppies; the charming Free Threads, made to imitate the squiggles of silk that find yourself on textile artist Olivia’s garments on the finish of her day; Animal Crackers, his menagerie of charming Bakelite and diamond-studded animals; and Enthusiastic about Monet, the place metal brooches summon photographs of Monet’s haystacks via a bewitchingly mysterious means of engraving that captures colors of dawn and sundown.
There may be additionally Cuffs, a collection of metal bangles with provocative messages, and Necks, an unrequited ode to the neck within the type of an set up of 75 metal chokers, in addition to the bead necklaces in Amber Kingdom, which pay homage to the glories of Mughal India, and Necklaces for the Empress Dowager, that are designed solely to be worn when seated. And a lot extra, providing the sense of abundance and unfettered passionate pleasure that could be a important a part of this cerebral physique of labor, so new, so totally different, but so linked to five,000 years of jewelry historical past.
I attempted to jot down every chapter as if the tales behind every ‘huge concept’ have been being advised by Brush himself, in his partaking, low-key, colloquial method, sitting round his picket desk, with Olivia, within the stillness and expanse of the loft. Drawing us all into his world, altering our imaginative and prescient of the jewel. Pure alchemy.
This Wallpaper* article dates from 2020.
Daniel Brush: Jewels Sculpture, $65, by Vivienne Becker, revealed by Rizzoli Electa, rizzoliusa.com