Jewels from a Modern Master

Innovative work by Margaret De Patta goes on display Saturday at the Oakland Museum

In post-World War II, just as young architects were remaking how Californians lived in their homes, so young jewelry designers were changing how female Californians presented themselves to the world.

More than 60 pieces of jewelry, plus other works, by Margaret De Patta, one of the 20th century’s most innovative jewelry makers, will be on display this Saturday through May 13 at the Oakland Museum of California.

‘Space-Light-Structure, the Jewelry of Margaret De Patta’ is drawn from the museum’s collection, the largest of the artist’s work anywhere.

De Patta (1903-1964), one of the founders of the American studio jewelry movement on the West Coast, saw her jewelry as fine art that was wearable. Working in the Bay Area, she created wonderful, quirky pieces showing the influence of Art Deco, biomorphic abstraction, and Constructivism. One jangling necklace suggests the title credits for an Alfred Hitchcock film.

De Patta’s tiny sculptures of metal and precious stone are particularly admired for the way they capture and blend light, and delight in its effects.

The Oakland Museum is located at 1000 Oak Street, Oakland.

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