This exhibition provides a close look at more than eighty pieces that came to The Metropolitan Museum of Art through a significant 2007 gift from collector Donna Schneier. The pieces—designed by some eighty-eight artists from seventeen countries—date from the 1960s to the present and include the work of modern master jewelers such as Thomas Gentille, William Harper, Mary Lee Hu, Hermann Junger, Gijs Bakker, and Peter Chang, as well as avant-garde jewelry makers Robert Baines, Ted Noten, and Lola Brooks, all of whom have contributed to the creative revolution in contemporary jewelry design.
In the counterculture environment of the 1960s, a dramatic shift occurred in Europe that changed the art world's perception of jewelry and ornament. Jewelry makers broke tradition by questioning the use of precious materials and art jewelry entered a phase of critical introspection and material exploration on an international scale. The postwar economic boom and new educational opportunities ignited the field's transformation.
Donna Schneier's approach to collecting jewelry has been based on documenting the central figures and works from this adventurous era. She began by collecting post–World War II international jewelry in the mid-1980s, beginning with pieces by artists such as Robert Ebendorf and Otto Künzli and since then has continued to collect museum-quality works. Highlights of the exhibition include an ebony and eggshell brooch by Thomas Gentille; Karl Fritsch's raw diamond and oxidized-silver ring; and several pieces added recently to the collection, including works by David Bielander, who mixes copper-anodized silver and elastic polymer, and Attai Chen, who makes jewelry from paper, linen, coal, and paint.
The catalogue is made possible in part by the Dobkin Family Foundation, the Gorelick Family, the Rotasa Foundation, the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, Inc., and friends of Donna Schneier.