Book Signing for Edgar Brandt: Master of Art Deco Ironwork

at Moderne Gallery; October 8, 1999


(September 1999)

(September 1999) ... The Moderne Gallery will host decorative arts/metalwork historian Joan Kahr, author of the recently published book Edgar Brandt: Master of Art Deco Ironwork (Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1999), on Friday, October 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. Kahr will be present to autograph her book, which is available for purchase at the Moderne Gallery, 111 N. Third Street in Old City Philadelphia. (215-923-8536)

Joan Kahr is the leading authority on Edgar Brandt. Her new book, with an introduction by Brandt’s son François, is the first to explore the life and work of the great ferronnier in detail. She is a frequent lecturer at universities on decorative metalwork and a regular contributor to major craft and art publications.

Kahr came upon Brandt’s work while studying for her master’s degree in the history of European decorative arts at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian and Parsons School of Design. To prepare for her recently published book on Brandt, Kahr drew on extensive interviews with Brandt’s family and former colleagues, as well as period accounts taken from the art and design press of the day. She traveled extensively throughout Europe interviewing master craftsmen who worked in Paris at that time.

In order to learn more about iron forging tehniques, Kahr became a member of the Artist-Blacksmiths Association of North America and observed demonstrations by practicing blacksmiths in the United States. Eventually she stepped into the blacksmith’s shoes and forged her own iron planter. In the course of her research, she came into contact with Robert Aibel, owner and director of Philadelphia’s Moderne Gallery, who became a personal friend and enthusiast of the project. Aibel will present an exhibition and sale titled Edgar Brandt: Art Deco Ironwork and Photographs from the Atelier at the Moderne Gallery from October 8 to December 24, 1999.

A specialist in early twentieth century decorative ironwork, Kahr is a regular contributor to Metalsmith Magazine and has written for such publications as Art Deco News, The Anvil’s Ring and the American Craft Museum’s New Dimensions in Furniture catalogue. She has lectured extensively on Brandt and French ironwork at the Cranbrook Academy of the Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, in St. Louis for the Artists-Blacksmiths Association of North America, at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. She will be teaching a course on the history of cast and wrought iron for The Bard Graduate Center in New York City this fall.

The book signing is being held in conjuction with the opening of Moderne Gallery’s Edgar Brandt: Art Deco Ironwork and Photographs from the Atelier, the first of its kind exhibition and sale of Brandt’s work. The book signing and the exhibition are free and open to the public.

The highly unusual Moderne Gallery exhibit has been made possible through a collaboration with Joan Kahr. Her book is the first to document the life and work of Brandt and serves as the basis for the project. Robert Aibel, owner/director of the Moderne Gallery, was a friend and colleague to Kahr during the years that she worked on the book.

Approximately 40 pieces of Edgar Brandt’s exquisitely crafted wrought iron work and over 200 vintage photographs from the mastercraftsman’s atelier will be on display, showing the wide range of artistry and the tremendous technological achievements of the premier metalsmith of the 20th century.

The objects on display include jewelry, vases, paperweights, mirrors, sculpture, bookends, compotes, firescreens and a console. Some are on loan from private collections and are not for sale; approximately 15 are available for purchase. Prices range from about $2,500 to $35,000. About half of these objects are illustrated in Kahr’s book.

The photographs on display, and now available for purchase, are from the collection of the author and were gathered by Kahr as a part of her research. Many of them are included in the Abrams’ book. They were originally used in the sales portfolio in Brandt’s Ferrobrandt atelier and showroom on Park Avenue in New York City. Many are of one-of-a-kind commissions, while others are of objects which were to become famous in Brandt’s oeuvre. The vintage photographs for sale range in price from about $250 to $850, and promise to be of interest to aficionados of photography as well as the Art Deco period and to current owners of work by Brandt.

Edgar Brandt: Art Deco Ironwork and Photographs from the Atelier will run through December 24, 1999 at the Moderne Gallery, located at 111 N. Third Street, in Old City Philadelphia. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm. (215-923-8536)