It is with great sadness that I share the news that Armand Winfield passed away on August 18th, 2009. He had been ill for a very long time. He was a brilliant, courageous man--always thinking of the next thing he could do or invent to help humanity.
Many in the art/jewelry community may not know who he was. He was a plastics genius and the man who was responsible for Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry, a workshop and gallery that created unique jewelry (small fine art piece encased in acrylics) from 1946 to about the middle of 1948 in Greenwich Village. He knew Rebajes, Paul Lobel, Ed Wiener, Art Smith, etc.,--all the great jewelers of that time and place.
Armand Winfield was a friend, mentor and someone whom I am very grateful to have known. He wrote the foreword to my book, "Form & Function, American Modernist Jewelry, 1940 - 1970." I will miss him!
You can read about Armand Winfield in our MODERN SILVER magazine article "Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry"
Please see a complete obituary below:
Obituary: Armand Gordon Winfield – Death of a Plastics Pioneer
On August 18, 2009, Armand Gordon Winfield passed away in Albuquerque’s Veterans Administration Hospital at the age of 89. A man of great creativity and love of life, an inventor and pioneer in the field of plastics, he was a world traveler, a skilled photographer, a raconteur of true stories, who loved the Southwest, its landscape and its people. He was a well-known plastics consultant, an early pioneer in plastics, and traveled the world lecturing and advising developing countries on low-cost housing as an agent of UNIDO using plastic resin and indigenous materials. This led him to conceive of soft surfaces for the elderly and infirm in housing in 1971.
Born in Chicago to Helen and Benjamin Winfield in 1919, he was uncommonly curious. By the age of fourteen, he was known to museum curators because of his interest in artifacts and model-making. In graduate school in 1941, he found his “home” in the Southwest during an archeological dig at the Jemez Pueblo.
After a short service in World War II, he lived in New York City and began experimenting with early plastics to develop embedded fragile museum pieces and archeological artifacts. His interest evolved rapidly after the leading plastics manufacturer wrote back to tell him that plastics were above his ability, firming his resolve to successfully develop clear castings. Which he very quickly did with no outside help! Then, during the heyday of Greenwich Village life, in 1945, using the art creations of his brother Rodney and friends from Cooper Union, he opened up a jewelry shop offering embedded fine art pieces. Many of these plastics-enhanced artworks are extremely valuable today. As an early adopter of plastics in so many fields, some of Armand’s works are displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
Over his lifetime, Armand Winfield continued doing research and development in his favorite medium, plastics. Armand worked with the Army to embed parts of army field phones for their protection. He worked with artists in their creations, with heart surgeons on encapsulating wires to the heart, and even with veterinarians on splints for race horses.
His honors are many, but he was most proud of the archival of a body of his work in the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City along with those of Raymond Loewy and Frank Lloyd Wright. The University of New Mexico is also archiving the rest of his work to serve researchers in the field of plastics. He was very proud of his long membership in the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, and the Society of Plastic Engineers.
During his career, Armand has been on the teaching faculties of 8 American colleges and Universities and was the author of nearly 350 published articles, chapters in books on plastics and related subjects. He was named a Fellow in the British Plastics and Rubber Institute, being only the fourth American to garner such an honor. In 2001 he was named a Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers. In that same year, Armand received the Tom J. Popejoy Medal by the University of Mexico for his contributions to the University.
His cremated remains are
scattered near the Jemez Pueblo.
Pete Toya, Tribal Religious Leader, and his
wife Carlotta noted that “Uncle Armand” was an honorary uncle and mentor
to some of the younger members of the Pueblo.
He is survived by his brother, Rodney
Marshall Winfield, of Carmel, California, and his sister, Carol Winfield
Berger, of New York City, and his nephew and nieces.