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Hello readers,

I realize it has been a bit of time since I’ve posted anything. I’m sorry. I took a long summer while starting a new job and moving to a different city, etc. Now that i’m done ‘adjusting’ to all that I will break my four month spell of zero posts and leave with you this bit I have found in a book called, THE SECRET OF METALS. Being who I am – and who some of you are, i’m sure – I found the following to be pretty fucking sick; to be reminded why I was originally brought to jewelry in the first place is refreshing, especially so epically so, and especially among today’s mess of contemporary bullshit where I often find myself bombarded with plastics and resins and wood and paint and glue and readymades and other junk (if of course those things can ultimately be described as junky, that is).

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WITH THE HELP OF METALS MAN HAS ESTABLISHED HIS POSITION IN THE WORLD AND HAS TRANSFORMED THE FACE OF THE EARTH. THE CONCORD OF HIS BODILY FUNCTIONS DEPENDS, IN MANY IMPORTANT PROCESSES, ON MARVELOUS METAL-BOURNE EFFECTS. EVERY DECADE OF RESEARCH ACQUAINTS US WITH NEW FACETS OF A COSMOS OF METALS WITHIN US. IN THE WORLD OUTSIDE WE COME AGAIN AND AGAIN UPON NEW DEPOSITS IN EARTH, WHICH ENABLE US TO ADVANCE IN CIVILIZATION; IN THE INNER WORLD OF THE BODY, EVER NEW LAYERS OF ACTIVITIES PERMEATED BY METALS ARE LIFTED INTO OUR CONSCIOUSNESS. WE NOT ONLY BREATHE WITH IRON, BUT WE NEED COPPER TO FORM OUR BLOOD AND COBALT TO ESCAPE PERNICIOUS ANEMIA. AS THE METHODS OF INVESTIGATION BECOME MORE REFINED, WE CONSTANTLY DISCOVER MORE METALS TO BE REGULAR COMPONENTS OF OUR BODIES. WE FIND THEM, HOWEVER, NOT AS BUILDING BLOCKS IN THE GROSSER SENSE, BUT AS INSTRUMENTS BY WHICH OUR HUMAN ENTITY CARRIES OUT SIGNIFICANT PHYSIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES. 

THE METALS AFFECT MAN NOT ONLY IN HIS BODY BUT ALSO IN HIS CONSCIOUSNESS, IN HIS SOUL AND SPIRIT. THEY SPEAK A LANGUAGE THAT CONVEYS THEIR NATURE MORE IMPRESSIVELY AS THESE EFFECTS MOVE INTO HIGHER SPHERES OF EXISTENCE. WHAT IS A MERE INDISTINCT STAMMERING IN THE REALM OF THE ORGANIC BECOME MORE ARTICULATE AS IT IS TAKEN UP AND UTILIZED BY MORE PERFECT REALMS– THROUGH THE REALM OF THE MERELY LIVING PLANT, INTO THAT OF THE ENSOULED ANIMAL, AND FINALLY INTO THAT OF MAN. FOR THE HIGHER OF BEING RISES AND THE MORE IT IS ABLE TO EXPRESS ITS OWN ESSENCE, THE BETTER IT CAN EXPRESS THE REGIONS OF THE WORLD FROM WHICH IT DERIVES. 

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While I was having one of the best Christmas holidays ever of all time in Calabria with my roommate Luisa and her BEYOND WONDERFUL family (EATING AND EATING AND EATING and listening to the sea and EATING), I was lucky enough to be shown these amazing pieces of costume jewelry, lovingly kept and almost perfectly preserved. Luisa’s great grandmother with the same first name,  Luisa Broggi, was a famous Italian soprano, alive and kicking roughly one hundred years ago. The family house was originally built just for her, and old photos of Signorina Broggi remain to hang on the walls of the dining room. These pieces belonged to her.

This is a fabulously rare collection. Costume jewelry can almost be thought as temporary jewels, made from inexpensive metals, plastic pearls, and fake diamonds. Original pieces were of course made by hand and then cast or die formed to make duplicates, and although they are fake in the sense that the final pieces are non-precious, each piece was carefully assembled and tenderly designed. Time has honored and bestowed value to these “fakes;” One must now handle them carefully and delicately, just as though they were a far more  genuine set of jewels.

Luisa and I tired to do some mild detective work. I am fairly certain that all these pieces were gold-plated due to the richness and consistency of the color of the metal. In some parts, oxidation surfaces. The most obvious indication that the pieces were inexpensively made, can be seen when looking at the backs; had the stones been real, they would have been prong-set so the light could move through each of them.

A simple ribbon was tied to complete the tiara below. Fabric was also sewn on the backside of the bottom row of fake diamonds.

This arm cuff is clearly die formed as you can see from the back, and the jewel embellished ornament is interchangeable!

The pearls below are thought to be tied around the waist. This one was a bit tangled, there is a better and more elaborate example of this kind of adornment to follow.

!!!!!!

These we thought to be extremely large earrings, but because the backs were more clip-like, we weren’t sure at first. Just wait…

They actually are made to hang on either side of this crown. DROOL

The plastic pearls are sewn into place, and here we also can see some sneaking oxidation from the metal under the gold plating.

This set, with its own custom box, is probably real coral. Below is a hair comb, made of turtle shell. These two pieces are the only real “precious” pieces in the case. In love.

We couldn’t find any clues as to who the maker was, where or when these pieces were made. Any ideas?? Miss Broggi was a famous and well traveled woman.

These photos are from Rome’s southern district of EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) which began to pop up slowly around 1938, originally dedicated to the projected world’s fair of 1942. As nice as that sounds, this would also have been the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Fascist era in Italy. Hooray! Mussolini and a team of fascist architects are to thank for the construction, as the plan was to move Rome’s urban expansion south-west to evidentially create a new modern city center. World War II got in the way, the fair never happened, and the project was at a halt uncompleted by 1942– it wasn’t until the 1950’s and 60’s until the original buildings were fully completed.

Let’s try to contextualize with what we’ve established in previous posts. At the time of EUR’s design, 200 or so years had passed since the birth of neoclassicism. Here’s a recap on some of the era’s accomplishments in an effort to better understand how time has transformed visual Italy at this point.

revival of antiquity / antiquity as future

more of the visual past was available

new geometrical image of the city established

symmetry/ ideal ratios

visual results detached from the originals —>degrees of separation 

process of abstraction —> concise way of defining form–>reduction to mere outline —> linear abstraction

and of course, Italian tradition 

By the time EUR’s Rationalist buildings were conceived, Italian artists and architects had basically streamlined the best of what not only neoclassicism summarized from its past, but also from the Futurists (1910-1916) and some of what the Novecento Italiano movement presented as well (1923-1943). Ideally I would like to touch on both of these epochs as well so stay tuned; this bit is merely a note I suppose, and hopefully it will assist future tidbits as I write them.

If it is not so clear already, with this blog I am essentially trying to pull together a visual timeline/a collection of artistic milestones that Italy has created throughout its history… among other things. Please forgive me if it isn’t chronological.