Both Francisco Druuio (Valladolid, 1868 - Paris, 1940) and Julio González (Barcelona, 1876 - Paris, 1942) live the Parisian experience of the first decades of the century and share a fondness for jewellery which they practice on the margins of their artistic work. The two artists undertake a formal investigation which is often described as secondary to their contributions but which is important because it helps to reveal the iconographic interests of both as well as their chosen affinities.
Durrio creates jewellery from a sculptural vocation. His work is shaped in the trail of French goldsmith René Lalique who reaffirms the category of jeweller as an artist, rather than as an artisan who assembles noble materials. Durrio trains in 1890s Paris and incorporates mythological themes inspired by nature, prevalent at the time. The artist adds a certain interest in Impressionism and Orientalism that gives expression to his female ornamental accessories productions.
A close friend of Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin, together they share experiences with ceramics. This learning fits in with his friend and teacher Alphonse Mucha’s endeavours. In fact, Gauguin, Mucha and Durrio share the same studio in Paris in 1893 after Gauguin returns from Tahiti. Durrio’s jewellery style greatly influences artists like Manolo Hugué. At the same time his melancholy theme, in which the characters are hunched over, refer to the pursuit of an inner world.
This exhibition includes fifteen pieces by Durrio produced between 1895 and 1896. All of them are made in silver: brooches, necklaces, pendants, rings, a pin and a ring for handkerchiefs. In the collection an Art Nouveau-inspired pendant made of chiselled silver stands out, with inlaid opal and nephrite depicting two birds intertwined.
Gonzalez starts his career at the family workshop which specialises in decorative wrought iron. On arrival in Paris he is immersed in the symbolist tradition as a vindication of the ornament. The Catalan artist practices goldsmith assiduously between 1908 and 1918 motivated by his collaborations with Durrio, supplying the store his family opens in Paris and participating in the Salon d'Automne and the Salon des Independants. However his artistic research, which leads him to be an innovator of modern sculpture along with Picasso and Brancusi, keep him away from the creating jewellery until the early thirties.
The collection of Gonzalez’ pieces that can be seen in this exhibition totals eighteen, including some that were already present in the Julio González. Las colecciones del IVAM exhibition which the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia dedicates to him in 1986.
Among his works on display are a candelabra shaped as a chimera, a foliage glass, two trays, one cigarette-case, three flowers, a jewellery case, two buckles, a hand mirror, a bracelet, one silver and two iron crosses. More pictorial are the two enamels on copper Mujer en el espejo (1936) y Rostro (1933-1940) which complete the exhibition.
These pieces of jewellery -dated approximately around 1929 and 1923- establish a dynamic between the lines and edges in the space of González’s sculpture.
Durrio and Gonzalez are included on a list of names such as Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso among others, they use jewellery-creation as a form of expression and with it challenge the boundaries between "high" and "low" art, between art, craft and decorative arts.