Lava Bracelet

Art Smith American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

From the 1940s to the 1970s, Art Smith was a leading member of the studio jewelry movement in New York City, which included Ed Wiener and Sam Kramer, both of whom are represented in The Met’s collections. Smith studied two and three dimensional art at Cooper Union. During his last two years at the school, he held a part time job at the Children’s Aid Society in Harlem, where he was introduced to jewelry making as an art form. Smith was an openly gay, Black artist whose designs were influenced by Surrealism, Primitivism, and the work of Alexander Calder, as well as by jazz, traditional tribal jewelry, and African sculpture.

Smith’s "wearable sculptures" often incorporate multiple materials and layering to create dynamic designs. The brass and copper layers in this piece emulate the lava for which the piece is named. Visual references to the natural world, combined with roughly finished metals, characterize much of Smith’s work. His use of semi-precious metals and simple techniques was dictated by cost considerations; precious metals were generally used only in commissioned pieces.

Lava Bracelet, Art Smith (American, born Cuba 1917–1982 New York), Copper and brass

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