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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Maquette for "Arbre Cubiste (Cubist Tree)"

Jan Martel (French, Nantes 1896–1966 Paris)
Joël Martel (French, Nantes 1896–1966 Paris)
Painted wood
31 1/2 x 15 1/8 x 15 in. (80 x 38.4 x 38.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gifts of Himan Brown and Adele Simpson, by exchange, 1997
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 912
Twins Jan and Joël Martel are best known for the four concrete Cubist "trees" they designed for a garden at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, a maquette of which is shown here. More than fifteen feet high, each tree had a cruciform trunk supporting quadrangular planes attached vertically and at angles, suggesting foliage. Like other examples of cutting-edge design at the fair, the Martel trees were derided in the popular press.
Marking: Stamped in black ink (underside of base): JM [cipher]
Joël Martel, Paris (1925–66); his daughter, Florence Langer-Martel (1966–ca. 1997; sold to Doria); [Galerie Doria, Paris, until 1997; sold to MMA]

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions of Twentieth-Century Design and Architecture," June 29–November 14, 1999, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Century of Design, Part ll: 1925-1950," May 9–October 29, 2000, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Curator's Eye: J. Stewart Johnson, 1990–2004," March 1–November 6, 2005, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Classic/Fantastic: Selections from the Modern Design Collection," December 21, 2007–April 5, 2009, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of French Art Deco," August 4, 2009–January 23, 2011, no catalogue.

Félix Marcilhac. Rétrospective Jan et Joël Martel, sculpteurs. Exh. cat., Le Musée, Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Saint-Jean-de-Monts, 1976, pp. 11, 37.

Dorothée Imbert. The Modernist Garden in France. New Haven, 1993, fig. 4.4.

Christoph Vitali, ed. Joël et Jan Martel: Sculpteurs, 1896–1966. Exh. cat., Hôtel du Département de Vendée, La Roche-sur-Yon. Paris, 1996, p. 59.

Jared Goss in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), pp. 74–75, ill.

Jared Goss. French Art Deco. New York, 2014, pp. 155–56, 246 n. 2 (under no. 42), p. 259, no. 42, ill. (color, overall and detail).

Richard Meyer. "Changing Partners: Richard Meyer on 'Reimagining Modernism' at the Met." Artforum (November 2015), ill. p. 144 (color, installation photo).

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