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Modernist Jewelry by Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith, Cuban born American jeweler (1917 - 1982), photo of 1951

Modernist Jewelry by Arthur Smith (1917 – 1982), photo of 1951

Modernist Jewelry by Arthur Smith
Talented representative of American Modernist Jewelry Arthur Smith was born in Cuba, in 1917. Three years later the family left Cuba for the USA, and settled in Brooklyn. Arthur showed his artistic talent from the young age, participating in art contests, one of them was held by American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Arthur Smith received a scholarship to Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. After graduating in 1940, he attended jewelry-making classes at New York University. Knowledge of jewelry business and friendship with Winifred Mason, jeweler designer, identified the future of Smith.

Arthur Smith's jewelry

Arthur Smith’s jewelry

He soon opened his own shop in Greenwich Village in 1946, later at 140 West Fourth Street, New York, which was a start of his career. Smith opened stores around the U.S. – Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and by the mid-1950’s he was able to establish business relationships with Bloomingdale’s and Milton Heffing in Manhattan, James Boutique in Houston, L’Unique in Minneapolis, and Black Tulip in Dallas. He also received coverage in Vogue, Harper’s Bazzar and he was mentioned in The New Yorker.

Arthur Smith's jewelry

Arthur Smith’s jewelry

Smith made beautiful cuff-links for Duke Ellington which included some notes of Ellington’s 1930’s “Mood Indigo.”

Art Smith (American, 1917–1982). Ellington Necklace, circa 1962. Silver, turquoise, amethyst, rhodonite

Art Smith (American, 1917–1982). Ellington Necklace, circa 1962. Silver, turquoise, amethyst, rhodonite

In 1969 he was honored with a one-man exhibition at New York’s Museum of Contemporary Crafts (now the Museum of Art and Design), and in 1970 he was included in Objects: USA, a large traveling exhibition organized by Lee Nordness, an influential early dealer in craft objects. After his death 3 major exhibits were organized celebrating his work; “Authur Smith A Jeweler’s Retrospective” at the Jamacia Arts Center in Queens NY, 1990, “Sculpture to Wear; Art Smith and his Contemporaries”, at the Gansevoort Gallery, NYC, 1998, and “From the Village to Vogue” at the Brooklyn Museum., 2008.

Smith had had a heart attack in the 1960s, and by the late 1970s his health had declined. The shop on West Fourth was closed in 1979 and Art Smith died in 1982.

Modernist Jewelry by Arthur Smith

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