|Edgar Brandt: Master of Art Deco Ironwork.
By Joan Kahr. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (100 Fifth Ave., 10011) 1999. 240 Pp. 232 illustrations (60 in color), ISBN Number 1-55959-282-2. $60 U.S., $85 Canadian.
Joan Kahr has written an admirable book on the work and influence of Edgar Brandt. His life is traced from his early years at school, giving us an understanding of the forces which influenced his seminal work.
Brandt's lifetime goal was to marry art and industry. He wanted to use the best from both worlds to create aesthetically pleasing work which was also more accessible than pure art.
To this end he employed the most modern production techniques while overseeing all parts of the design to create an harmonious whole. The results are breathtaking. Always in the forefront of design, yet rooted in history, Brandt won competition after competition. In a speech in 1922 he said, "there is nothing that is too difficult, there are only things that one does not know how to do."
Starting with jewelry, moving to decorative arts for the home, after World War I the many war memorials, ironwork and bronzes for commercial establishments, and finally international recognition and orders, Brandt's establishment was an extraordinary undertaking fueled by an incredible vision.
This book by Joan Kahr is wonderful in presenting a full picture of the man. She has unearthed a beautiful array of pictures for all to study and admire. Both smiths and metal artists will be very appreciative.
She documents his growth as an artist, his grounding in historical precedents, his ability to incorporate old designs into new creations thereby creating the style we know as Art Deco. Kahr knows the period and thus paints Brandt in his time, with his contemporaries. The prose is to the point, the explanations clear.
Personaly, I found the subject fascinating, the book enthralling, and the pictures sending me into flights of fancy and the desire for far more time in the forge.
"Edgar Brandt considered it a duty to work, especially if his work could make a contribution to society." Joan Kahr's work has brought Edgar Brandt to the forefront once again. It is a great contribution to our understanding of our own past, a springboard for contemporary work.
Reviewed by Nol Putnam
The Plains, Virginia