Denim art at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in 1974...more
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"Enamels" and Arthur Forbes Ames
“Enamels,” on display at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in 1959, was a comprehensive assemblage of enamels: an historical review, three Americans in retrospective, newly commissioned enameled objects for the Museum, and a contemporary survey. After the closing of the exhibition, a portion of the works toured the country.
The historical review contained 60 pieces on loan from museums and galleries, illustrating great enameling periods of the past including Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance. The craftsmen in retrospective were Kenneth Bates, Karl Drerup, and Edward Winter, who did much to spur contemporary interest in enameling; each was, in fact, a one-man show within the main body of the exhibition. The museum-commissioned objects each illustrated a different enameling technique: en résille, grisaille enamel on copper, champlevé enamel on silver, painted enamel on copper, cloisonné enamel on gold, plique-à-jour enamel on silver, basse-taille enamel on copper, and cloisonné enamel on copper. Each of these commissioned pieces was accompanied by pieces demonstrating the various stages in the development of the finished work, and then the work and its demonstration panel became part of the museum’s permanent collection. The contemporary survey was the first in the United States, and included more than 300 pieces from 70 craftsmen.
One of these contemporary artists was Arthur Forbes Ames, who contributed four pieces painted enamel on copper. The pictured piece, Triptych No. 1, is 27 x 11 in. and was made in 1959. Ames is also included in “Little Dreams in Glass and Metal: Enameling in America, 1930 to the Present,” opening on January 24 at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. Learn more about Ames from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art’s oral history interview with Arthur and Jean Goodwin Ames from 1965.
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