Winfield Fine Art 
in Jewelry

a fusion of art & scientific discovery 

by Marbeth Schon   

.................................................................

The village of the 1940s was a haven for the artistic, the adventurous and the romantic, as it always had been.  Hidden in garrets and lofts and cellars, and private mews dwelt these intellectual denizens and aesthetes--the poets and the prophets, the artists and the artisans--the students and the merchants who melded together with the tourists into this exciting and most unusual corner of New York City...This was the village of the great craftsmen--innovators who set the tastes and trends and fashions for years to come--the Greenwich Village of Sam Kramer, Julian Goodenow, and Paul Lobel, of the feuding brothers Franco Rebajes and Pedro Pujol...of ...Art Smith, Edward Wiener....of Vivecka and Carol Janeway and of Sara Sklar...of Rima and Arthur King....This was the time when an artist could trade his work for a meal and art was everywhere....For me, it represented one of the most important and exciting and stimulating experiences of my young life--and of my entire professional career!1

Those were the words of Armand G. Winfield reminiscing in 1979 about the period of time in Greenwich Village when his experiments and discoveries within the field of plastics became the impetuses for a two year endeavor that merged contemporary fine art, jewelry design, and modern scientific processes in a way that had never been done before and has not been done in quite the same way since. The years were 1946 and 1947.

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry

brooch

abstract painting with added piece of shell
encased in acrylics

1946

  ..................................


THE BEGINNING.....................................

Armand Winfield, originally a student of anthropology and geology, was awarded an undergraduate fellowship in 1939 to teach geology at Franklin and Marshall College and serve as Assistant Curator of the College Museum where he worked on the preservation of specimens which involved molds, impressions, lattices, etc. He began experimenting with plastics after a trip to New York City where he saw what to him was a miracle.

The Du Pont Company was exhibiting a new material that was crystal clear--even clearer than glass--inside of which some amethystine crystals were suspended. Here was a material in which I should be working.  In such a material one could encase all sorts of specimens from sturdy rocks to delicate plants and insects....The more I became involved with materials for preservation, the more my interests solidified in this challenging field of plastics and the less I became dedicated to my academic choices of geology and anthropology.  My future lay, as far as I had become convinced, in these new materials.1

After graduation in 1941, Armand attended the Graduate School of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, but his studies were cut short by the attack at Pearl Harbor shortly after which he was drafted into the army. Because of an accident which left him unfit for combat, he returned to civilian life in 1944 and decided to continue working for museums but this time, with plastics. By the fall of 1945, he had worked out one of the first commercial mass producible embedding processes using crystal clear acrylics.

One of Armand's early experiments was with wire.  Because plastic is an insulator, he was able to bend fine electric wires into interesting designs and imbed them  inside clear plastic lamp bases.  Some of his early lamp bases are in the Smithsonian Institution, Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Armand also experimented with levels making one with plastics that was the prototype for the whole industry. He also embedded walky talky components into plastics for the War Department, making them unbreakable during combat.  This work was the precursor to the electronic encapsulation field.1

 

Armand Winfield

early lamp base

acrylics and wire

            


Armand Winfield

Peruvian fabric encased in acrylics

1946

 

Another experiment involved preserving Peruvian fabrics. The one on the left was made for the American Museum of National History in 1946.  

Armand also encased photographic slides in plastics.  To this day (65 years later) the color of the slides has not changed and they are still useable.

                                                                         

Acrylic perfume bottles were another of Armand's ingenious inventions. They were made with complicated inner cavities that sometimes held a gem that would roll around within the design never to fall out because it was larger than the tiny hole at the top which had a tiny stopper that would fit into it.  No one has been able to figure out how he did them and some of his early perfume bottles are in the Smithsonian Institute.

Armand also made matching buttons for dresses by casting a button shape in acrylics and embedding the material. The idea of using the clear with these pieces was to pick up the color of the dress and I used to some heavy pieces for fur coats--people used to wear real fur then.2

Armand Winfield

buttons

fabric and acrylics

1946

 

 

Armand Winfield

perfume bottle

acrylics

1946

 

Armand Winfield

Fishing fly embedded in acrylics

Armand also embedded fishing flies. His later "flies" had gold hooks.


T
HE IDEA.....................................

In 1946, Armand needed financing in order to continue his embedding experiments in plastics. He turned to his brother Rodney Winfield who was an art student at the Cooper Union in New York, an all scholarship-institution designed to train young people with exceptional talent in the fields of engineering, art, architecture, and design. Rodney was not impressed with Armand's early attempts to make attractive saleable items using his imbedding techniques. My brother said," Why are YOU doing that if I can get you GOOD artists? " He was ashamed of me in those days.2

Rodney's idea was to assemble a group of his fellow students (and hopefully some of his teachers) in order to create original miniature works of art that Armand could then embed into plastics. The finished pieces could be worn as jewelry or simply kept as indestructible art objects. Armand would supply all the raw materials for the artists and pay each a commission when their work was sold. 

Armand Winfield

unfinished brooch

silver, turquoise eye, gold leaf
encased in acrylics

     

                                   

They put together a small workshop and Armand sent out a test letter to interest more artists in Rodney's idea.

The idea is the materialization of a process I devised to float highly polished metals, original paintings, sculptures, insects, etc. into solid blocks of clear "plastioniques."  The result is a display of original exotic jewelry that can never tarnish or break, made only of the finest materials, through first class craftsmanship and designed by some of New York's leading young artists. Each piece is signed.

Here is a jewel that is startling, different, beautiful and everlasting. No two designs are exactly alike!  You must see them to appreciate the exquisite workmanship for they are truly out of this world!1


Ray Jay Ashdown

abstract brooch

silver foil, silver wire, paper, paint
encased in acrylics

 1946

 


The letter didn't bring about the desired results and Rodney and Armand realized they needed a gallery to show the pieces. Not being able to afford a gallery of their own, Armand and Rodney talked the owners of the RoKo Gallery at 62 Greenwich Avenue into exhibiting the jewelry in their front window. The first showing was January 20, 1946. 

T
HE GALLERY.....................................

From the very beginning, the jewelry attracted much attention and sales were strong enough for Armand and Rodney to consider finding their own space.  They pooled their own meager resources, borrowed from interested friends, and rented a small shop at 184 West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. Rent was on a month-to-month basis and the store needed very little improvement except the addition of aluminum cladding on the front and interior decoration. Rodney and some of the other artists were able to decorate the interior to make it stylish and interesting.

Rodney Winfield decorating the gallery in Greenwich Village

1946

                                              

 

There was a showroom up front to the street, a dividing partition separating it from the workshop/laboratory in the rear. To conserve expenses, I gave up the East Side apartment and moved my bed into the shop where it was pushed under my work table during the day.  I learned to work 18-21 hours a day, seven days a week with little or no recreation except for the excitement of knowing, living, and working with the artists and customers and characters who frequented my shop--and the area--and who made my life bearable, interesting, romantic, and adventurous.  In order to generate excitement, when Rodney and I went out to eat, we would pass by the shop late--around 11 pm or midnight.  If there was a crowd around the window--and there usually was--and if no one there knew us, we would start heckling the display or the pieces and soon they were being defended by the crowd. We would then casually unlock the door and invite them in.  It is surprising to note the number of sales we made this way.1

 

customers at the front window

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry 

184 West 4th Street

1946

 


Armand's mother, Helen O. Winfield, helped out during the day by waiting on customers and also designed some of jewelry

Helen O. Winfield

helping customers 

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry

184 West 4th Street

1946


                                            


Helen O. Winfield

earrings

gold and copper foil, silver wire,
gold flakes, other materials
 encased in acrylics

gold wires

1946

 


Materials used by the artists to make the jewelry were pure gold, fine silver and gems.
We would often would take the copper pieces and burnish them to get the different tonal qualities and then set into the resins. They don't change (over time).1 The findings and accessories were also made of precious metals. Artists were given the materials and tools they needed. Tools included styli for raising designs on the metal shims, tiny scissors and jeweler's pliers.  In addition to the gold and silver and both precious and semi-precious gems,  gold and silver wires, uncut stones and a variety of less precious metals and wires including copper, brass, and phosphor bronze were provided. I would supply all the findings and all the gems and the gold and silver and then they would find other things like wires, and bark and grape stems and all ....and between ....us we collaborated on this stuff.2

Armand & Rodney Winfield

workbench

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry   

184 West 4th Street

1946

....................                             

To this list, the artist would add such items as milkweed floss, broken glass and mirrors, colored waxes, bark, sand, stones, colored string, or yarn, colored papers, and/or tissue, canvas, clay, silver foil, glitter, feathers, and fabrics, or whatever else struck the artistic fancy....Then, utilizing their own particular talents, they would create the exquisite and delicate miniatures which I would embed and finish as jewelry.  Often the artist would choose to indicate an outline for an outside shape.  If he or she felt that it was needed as part of the design.  If not, it was left to my judgment.  Together, we often decided whether a piece was to become a pin or a pendant or an embellishment for a case or compact.  The beauty of the process was that we could take a piece of metal and highly polish it.  Once embedded, the shine was locked in permanently with no chance of oxidation.  Tiny gold and silver wires, thinner than a human hair could be manipulated into equally tiny sculpture which would collapse if touched, yet inside the clear acrylics sheath was ever protected and could be handled and worn. Silver repousse, burnished copper, and tiny oil paintings, watercolors, prints, and etchings found long life and permanence through the medium.  Waxes would melt during processing but would solidify in situ, providing color and textures unlike any seen before. Certain fabrics took on new depth dimensions inside the acrylic cover.  We learned, for instance that black velvet became a lush dark background for many gems.  I learned that a cheap opal mounted on black velvet and embedded produced the appearance of a very expensive stone.  Not being and artist, but still so deeply involved with the process, my own work took on new dimensions. I began to embed dried plants and by Buckwheat pieces were quite beautiful.  The Museum of Modern Art purchased one for its collection....The work was always innovating and exhilarating.  I alone worked on the plastics processing. My brother Rodney knew the technique, but he preferred to be involved only with the art and the artists.1 

Armand Winfield

workbench

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry   

184 West 4th Street

1946

 

                                                                   

 Armand Winfield  

Buckwheat pendants

Buckwheat encased in acrylics

gold chain

1946

                                      

..

Armand Winfield

ring

sterling silver, opal, black velvet
  encased in acrylics

1946

.................................................


Some of our jewelry was pictorial; miniature paintings and sculpture, others were abstract--Art Deco in feeling, some dealt with nature, others were religious or spiritual, still others were mythical or mystical. Some were allegorical, some had childlike innocence, others were humorous.  Some pieces combined several ideas and styles, some were even grotesque.  All were beautifully executed as far as the craftsmanship was concerned. Each piece was a reflection of the style and feeling of the artist and each piece had the name of the artist engraved on the back or on the edge as well as the name "Winfield" and Patent Pending.1

 Lydia Rosen

paint, paper
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry

etched mark

1946-1947

Margaret Stark

brooch

paper, paint, silver, shell,
other materials
encased in acrylics

1946

 

THE ART & ARTISTS.....................................
 (group 1)

The body of art produced by Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry represented almost every major mid 20th Century design innovation or movement including montage, collage, assemblage, abstraction, surrealism, cubism, minimalism, and biomorphism and it is in this context, together with the reality that the jewelry represented these movements well and with beauty, that the extant pieces have lasting historical value. 

 

Maureen O'Connor

cubist brooch

collage: paper, pearls, cloth,
 glitter, other materials
encased in acrylics

1946

.................................................

 


Jeff Markel

 minimalist brooch

silver, bead, other materials
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

(The brooch is minimalist in that it leaves out all but the essential line and circle necessary to evoke the idea of a human profile though the actual minimalist movement came later--in the 1960s--and is usually associated with simple geometric shapes and colors. Markel's brooch is more fluid and expressive like the drawings of Picasso or Matisse.)

 

Many of the Winfield artists were already exhibiting at major museums and galleries before showing their work at the gallery on West 4th Street and a number of the young Cooper Union students whom Rodney and Armand persuaded to join this project became famous painters, sculptors, writers, and designers.

Some of the artists at Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry were first generation Americans who came to this country before and during World War II.  European students and teachers brought with them many of the modernist ideas taking root in the U.S. in the late 1940s.

Within the first group of a dozen or so Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry artists was one Cooper Union teacher, Erica Gorecka- Egen who brought the art of paper sculpture into recognition in the U.S. She was one of the eleven artists featured in Arthur Sadler's 1946 publication, Paper Sculpture. 

 It was not until Polish artists commercialized its (paper sculpture's) application at Continental exhibitions that English and American artists commenced sporadic efforts with the craft. World war II came and many of Poland's artists took up residence in England and America, and, as had been the case in 1918, the shortage of decorative materials once again made numerous artists turn to paper sculpture as a medium for artistic expression.3

Erica ingeniously translated her paper art to fine metal shim stock and her work sold very well.1

Famous abstractionist Atillo Salemme (1911-1955) who had retrospective shows at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C. also contributed to the project. He recognized his second one-man-show in 1946 at the Winfield Gallery in the catalogue for the exhibitions. 

Each month Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry had honored one of it's artists with a one-man show of his or her serious paintings, prints, or sculpture. Invitations were sent and opening cocktail parties were held. Reviewers from the newspapers and art magazines were present and reviews soon appeared. The Winfield Gallery became synonymous with Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry.1

Margaret Stark created many brilliantly colored abstract collages and paintings for Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry.  She was a New York City native, born in 1915. Stark studied at the Art Students League and also with the  famous German-born painter Hans Hofmann who also taught the famous abstract expressionists Clifford Still and Jackson Pollack. She exhibited at the Carnegie Institute in 1944-1946, the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1944-45, and the Museum of Modern Art in 1944.  

 

                                                               

                                                                             

Margaret Stark

abstract brooch

paper, paint, silver foil, glitter
encased in acrylics

   1946

                                                         


Margaret Stark

abstract brooch

paint, paper, glitter

1946

 

Another famous contributor was German immigrant Hans Moller who brought the dream world of Surrealism to Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry.  He had come to the U.S. in 1933, after fleeing the rising anti-Semitism of the Third Reich.

Less than four weeks after his arrival to the United States, Moller began work as a graphic designer in New York City, and within seven years he was teaching art classes at Cooper Union Institute in New York City....From 1943 to 1950 he experimented with the style of Surrealism. In the I940s, Moller reacted to the then current movements of the avant garde; first the surrealists, subsequently the Abstract Expressionists. 4

                                                 

Nat Koffman was another of the Winfield artists who gained notoriety even though he died quite young.  He was an American, born in 1910 in Pennsylvania.  

Nat Koffman

"Cats" brooches

silver foil, paint
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947

Nat Koffman

brooch

copper, paint
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

 Charles W. White

Father and Son
 
1940

 graphite on paper.

photo courtesy of
M. Lee Stone Fine Prints, Inc
 www.mleestonefineprints.com

Charles W. White (1917-1979) was an African American painter, printmaker and teacher who also created jewelry for Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry. He exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, and many other prestigious museums and galleries.

The Cooper Union was one of the few institutions in mid 20th Century America that did not discriminate against African Americans (African American jeweler Art Smith received a scholarship from the Cooper Union in 1942) and Greenwich Village was one of the most racially liberal places in the country to live and work. 

 

 

 

Jane Eakin became a well known illustrator. Her miniature abstract landscapes are reminiscent of the work of Georgia O'Keefe.
 

Jane Eakin

brooch

paint, paper
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947


Another very important America abstract painter who created Winfield jewelry was Nell Blaine. She was also a New York City native, born in 1922, and was one of the youngest artists working at Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry. Like Margaret Stark, she studied abstract expressionism with Hans Hofmann in New York from 1942-1944. She also studied etching and engraving at Atelier 17 with Stanley William Hayter in 1945. She went on to exhibit extensively throughout the country and her work is many museum and gallery collections.5

 

Nell Blaine

"Cortege"

oil/board 

1947

photograph courtesy of
Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York
www.tibordenagy.com

.....................................................

American painter Fred Becker also contributed to the project. Fred Becker gave me miniature plates.  I rubbed in black pigments into the engraving cuts and then cast against them and then pulled off the impression of the print with all the lines raised with the black in it.2 Others in this group were Count Byron Du Prorok and Shimon.

Count Byron Du Prorok

1946

..........................................................


THE PUBLICITY
.....................................

As more and more people became aware of Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry and business increased, newspapers and magazines also took note.  The March, 1947  issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine featured the gallery in an article titled Floating Fashions.  Authors, Raymond Rosenthal and Bernard Wolfe wrote in part, There is a chic young woman around New York these days with two Peruvian postage stamps, both collector's items dangling from her earlobes. Another sports an iridescent Patagonian beetle--the genuine article. A third wears a dress clip in which curlicues of hair, a couple of fingernail parings and several baby teeth are arranged in an abstract design.  Embedded in chunks of transparent plastic, such weird bits of feminine decor have converted some of New York's smartest women into walking natural history exhibits.  No one is more disconcerted by these flamboyant oddities than their creator, twenty-six year old Armand Winfield.  His modest idea, when he wandered into jewelry designing was simply to transform fashionable women into mobile art galleries, adorning them with the latest canvasses of well-known modern painters.  And later, in the article, You wouldn't think these women would have the nerve to actually wear some of the things they order.  Winfield says with resignation, "I live in constant fear that the door may open at any moment and a woman will walk in with a pair of giraffe's eyebrows or a pet poodle's tail which she is determined to wear in a lavaliere around her neck."6

 

Armand Winfield

beetle encased in acrylics

 

In Armand Winfield's memoirs regarding his years as young man in Greenwich Village are fascinating tales about woman who came into the gallery asking him to make bazaar things in plastics and metals for them to wear. He tells one very humorous story about hiding in the back of his gallery in embarrassment while a woman unclothed to explain to him what sort of breastplate she wanted him to mold for her.

There were also articles in the New Yorker, Plastics Magazine, the Newark Evening News Sunday Magazine Section, the Village Chatter, and the European and Australian Press. Bert Parks interviewed Armand on his radio program and the jewelry appeared in Vogue Magazine.

Many of Winfield's customers were from the theater, or were writers, models or musicians such as Ivan T. Sanderson, Pearl Primus, Josephine Premice, Peewee Russell, Mezz Mezzerow, Martha Graham, Maya, Hazel Hawthorne, Weegie, Josh White, Anita O'Day, and Kay Kendall.

A group of famous artists desired to lend their names to the business even if they didn't actually create the jewelry. Some of them were  Julio Diego who was married at that time to Gypsy Rose Lee, Robert Gwathmey, I. Rice Pereira, Howard Sparber, Lenore Tawney, and Karl Zerbe.


THE ARTISTS.....................................
(group 2)

 

Some of the most colorful and intricate pieces of jewelry were made by another Winfield artist, Lilly Ascher who formed miniature abstract sculptures with beads and wire which were encased in biomorphic-shaped acrylics.

Lilly Ascher

brooch

beads, silver wire, other materials
encased in
acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

Lilly Ascher

earrings

sea shells, feathers, copper, brass, wire,
 other materials
encased in
acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

 

Lilly Ascher

pendant

beads, copper wire
encased in
acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

Ray Jan Ashdown, a WPA artist, whose paintings and prints are in now in collections throughout the world created intricate wire sculptures which he combined with cloth, paper, and foil.

               

Ray Jay Ashdown

brooch

cloth, copper wire, pearls, silver foil
encased in
acrylics

1946 or 1947

Ray Jay Ashdown

brooch

 copper wire, silver wire, silver foil
encased in
acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

Each Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry customer was made to feel that each piece was made especially for her, or him.1 Armand had a brilliant method for selling earrings. Because it was almost impossible for him to make two earrings alike, and since each side of everyone's face is different, Armand purchased a flattering rose colored mirror which he placed on the showcase for women to look into while trying on earrings. He then would tell each woman that he had to match the right earring to that specific side of her face to which it was best suited. Armand said that they had "hundreds of happy customers!"

Lilly Ascher

earrings

copper wire
encased in acrylics

gold-washed sterling silver screw back findings

1946 or 1947

Greenwich Village in the late 1940s was a stronghold for modernist jewelry shops. Armand met Paul Lobel when he was his neighbor on west 4th St.  Lobel was in his late 40s at that time and was older than most of the people involved at Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry.  

Armand spoke of Lobel and some of the other modernist jewelers in the Village,  I remember that he had a beautiful daughter. He had been an industrial designer first and he made his reputation doing screens and some of the screens he sold were made out of woven wood in panels I think that is how he was making his living in those days. I think he was out of Pratt institute too.  I taught there for six years and Paul was a good friend and he was into the jewelry and he was doing some very delicate pieces and one of those I gave to the American Crafts Museum. Paul was a friend and when I needed nice frames in silver for my pieces and boxes, he made them for me. I paid them for them. They were not signed, however.  The copper work was done for me by Pedro Pujo who was the brother of Franco Rebajes.  Those two brothers would get out in the street and fight every day. They would have fights in the middle of the street everyday and stop traffic. They sold as a result of this. I knew Ed Wiener, I knew Sam Kramer, Arthur King--they were all my friends.2

 

Ruth Patsy Klein did beautiful, delicate watercolor/drawings like the one below in the Paul Lobel sterling frame as well as advanced modern avant garde pieces using mica and one from a potato slice mounted on a free-form piece of slate. 

As an artist, she was ahead of her time but unfortunately, died quite young.

 

Ruth Patsy Klein

watercolor/drawing, paper
encased in acrylics

 sterling silver frame
 by Paul Lobel

1946 or 1947

 

Ruth Patsy Klein

brooch

watercolor/drawing, glitter
encased in acrylics

 1946 or 1947

 

Ruth Patsy Klein

pendant

potato slice, paint
encased in acrylics

slate

  1947

Ruth Patsy Klein

Angel

pendant

mica, paint, cloth
encased in acrylics

  1947

 

Armand worked day and night embedding, shaping, and polishing; making the miniature paintings and sculptures into "wearable art."  Anyone was welcome to watch me cut the pieces, shape and polish them and mount the findings--and there were always people around regardless of the hour.  I could always count on a dawn visit from Pedro Pujal, my neighbor across the street.  Pedro was a coppersmith, Spanish, with a marvelous sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye.  He loved rum for breakfast and since I was the only one around who was up, we often shared a cup before the workday began.  Pedro's brother was Franco Rebajes, another famous village coppersmith.  His shop was several doors east of mine.1

Efrem Weitzman became a well-known stained glass artist, designing magnificent windows for synagogues and temples in the New York area  and beyond.

His pieces for Winfield Fine Art were abstract, biomorphic paintings with subtle colors and added objects such as pearls, stones, and wood that appear secluded within their plastic coatings.

---

Efrem Weitzman

brooch

wood, paint, pearls, stones
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

Efrem Weitzman

brooch

copper, paint, wood, 
other materials
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

           


Efrem Weitzman's wife, Lydia Rosen also designed for Winfield Fine Art. She created iridescent, deeply 3-dimensional collages using pearls, silver, paint, cord, wire, bits of shells, and other objects.

Lydia Rosen

pendant

gold cord, copper wire, cloth, stone, gold leaf, other materials
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947

 

Lydia Rosen

brooch

copper, silver, pearl, cloth, other materials
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947  

 

 


Hilda Pertha had already begun her career before creating jewelry for Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry. In 1944, she had her first solo exhibit in Philadelphia.

Since the 1940s, she has exhibited her
work throughout the world and is a published author on the subject of painting. 

The subjects of her art are now (as they were in the pieces she designed for Winfield) abstracted from nature.7 

 

 

Hilda Pertha

brooch

watercolor, paper
encased in acrylics

1946 or 1947

Maureen O'Connor's jewelry was abstract and sometimes cubist as is the work shown earlier in this article. In the brooch below, her colors are harmonized and the shape of the piece is controlled, echoing the inner design, resulting in a well-integrated miniature work of art.

Maureen O'Connor

brooch

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

 

 

 

David Vestal

brooch

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

 
David Vestal, born in 1924 in California, painted some of the most masterful abstracts for Winfield Fine Art and went on to become a well known photographer and writer.

Before working at Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry, he studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (1941- 1944), later moving to New York City in 1945 where he worked as an assistant to advertiser and photographer Ralph Steiner.

Vestal's wife,  Miriam Echelman was very instrumental in furthering his career.  At her recommendation, Vestal studied with Sid Grossman at the Photo League. He had his first solo exhibition at Helen Gee's Limelight in 1954. Following that, he exhibited at A Photographer's Gallery, Image Gallery, and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

In later years, he continued working as a freelance photographer and writer. He also taught at the School of Visual Arts, the Pratt Institute. 

In 1966 Vestal received the first of two Guggenheim Fellowships, taking a leave of absence to travel and photograph.

Vestal's photographs often portray moments of calm beauty in an otherwise restless city. His work has been exhibited extensively and is included in numerous collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.8

David Vestal

two brooches

silver foil, copper foil
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

David Vestal

brooch

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1947 or 1948

 

Marnye Reinhart's lyrical, miniature, semiabstract paintings are as fresh and colorfully modern now as when they were first encased in acrylics at Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry in 1946 and 1947.                          

Marnye Reinhart

brooch

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

 

Marnye Reinhart

brooch

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

Marnye Reinhart

brooch

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

Emily Nelligan

brooch

ink, watercolor, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

        


A foreshadowing of Emily Nelligan's later works can be seen in this subtle, almost orientalist, abstract landscape painting she did for Winfield Fine Art in 1946.  She is presently 76 years old and devotes her art to charcoal drawings of Great Cranberry Island off the Coast of Maine  She has been admired and collected by artists and writers for years and now is becoming more well known through exhibits at galleries and museums. She participated in the National Academy of Design's Invitational 177th Annual Exhibition, May 1-June 9, 2002. 9 

 

 

 

Betty Smith

two brooches

gauche, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

Betty Smith painted bright, freely formed surrealist abstractions around which the acrylics was closely shaped, creating delightful small brooches.

 

Bernice Greenwald's paintings were often humorous like this very accomplished caricature of a graduate or professor. 

 

Bernice Greenwald

brooch

gauche, paper
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

Martin Bloom

surreal brooch

paper, paint
encased in acrylics

1946

 

Martin Bloom, who now is a writer specializing in topics dealing with the arts, produced the surrealist brooch on the left.

 


Jeff Markel was an artist and musician who would bring his trumpet to the jam sessions at Julian Goodenow's in the Village..Julian was one of the Village's great silver and gold smiths and he lived over his shop on Christopher Street.  Once Julian knew you, you were invited. You would bring your own bottle--and instrument if you were a musician.1

Markel is now a furniture designer, contractor, and author in California. 

His pendants and brooches are both cubist and biomorphic and the influence of Miro can be seen in the two pieces directly below as well as that of Maholy-Nagy whose photograms inspired Margaret De Patta to use screens as design elements in her jewelry.

 

 

Jeff Markel

pendant

silver wire, screen, pearl,
other materials
encased in acrylics

  1946 or 1947

 

Jeff Markel

brooch

paint, agate, feather, paper, rose-cut brads
other materials
encased in acrylics

  1946

 

Jeff Markel

brooch

paint, copper wire, paper
encased in acrylics

  1947

 

Charlotte Pols created the intricate abstract geometric painting to the right which is visually similar to the work of Frank Stella even though it came much earlier.

 

 

 

Charlotte Pols

gouache, paper
encased in acrylics

  1947

 

 

Luij Hassan's creations were cavernous aquarium-like assemblages of cloth, foil, and broken glass.

 

Luij Hassan

brooch

foil, cloth, paint, broken glass,
copper
encased in acrylics

  1947

 

.................................................................................

 

No one's work sold better at Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry than that of Rodney Winfield. His painted miniatures were difficult for Armand to keep in stock. Today, almost all of his pieces are in museum collections. 

His work is charming and illustrative with spiritual nuances. It evokes nostalgic memories of childhood journeys through books of Eastern European folk and fairy tales.

Rodney became a well-known producer of stained glass, enamels, and mosaics for churches and synagogues.  He created the N.A.S.A. window in the National Cathedral in Washington. D.C. which contains the Moon Rock.

 

 

Rodney Winfield

box top/brooch

paint, gold & silver foil
encased in acrylics

 1946 or 1947

 

Rodney Winfield

brooch

paint, gold foil
encased in acrylics

 1946 or 1947

..............................................

Other artists, many of whom have matured into prominent positions in artistic fields, included  Lucia Antorino, Hanna Adler,  Mary Kay Ashdown, Matilda Burgeman, Sadie Bordeaux, Susan Beecher, John Dudley, Giglio Dante, Edna Evans, Elaine Frank, Lily Gruen, Dionne Guffey, Ruth Huffine, Harry Jaffee, Mildred Koffler, Bruna Locatti, Cleo Lambrides, Helen Ludwig, Mary Milunec, Nieves Marschaleck, Charles T. Nakata, Maureen O'Connor, Charlotte Pols, Gloria Prival, Hilda Pertha, Pearl Reiss, Clara Swead, Phyllis Skolnick, Edith Schloss, Tobias, Russell Twiggs, and Lloyd Waldron.

Later, in 1947, Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry experimented with screen prints in order to produce multiples of each design . The resulting pieces were colorful and interesting, but  lacked the finesse of the other jewelry so the project was short lived. The pieces were marked "Winfield Patent Pending, B line" in order to differentiate the pieces from the originals. 

Rodney Winfield

brooch

silkscreen
encased in acrylics

B line

  1947

................................................           

David Vestal

brooch

silkscreen
encased in acrylics

B line

  1947

................................................................

 

 

earrings

sterling silver screw back findings

silkscreen
encased in acrylics

B line

  1947

 

Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry

Pat. Pend. "B" mark

1947

 

 


THE CLOSING.....................................

In those days of post war lows, our conversation pieces were bringing high prices for the times, $5.00 to over $100.00 each. 

 I wish that I had a happy ending for the project and the experience.  I do not. Long hours, irregular habits, high commissions, and overhead, untrained help and a general lack of business training and experience all contributed to the fact that one day I physically collapsed and with my collapse, so went the business at the end of 1947.  The work in plastics which we did in those scant few years, 1945-1947, was really important.  We were pioneering a new industry with new materials and new technologies.  Our work became the prior art of many subsequent inventions and developments.  That we made some small contribution to the growth of American plastics has been worthy of the effort.1


THE COD
A.....................................

About ten years ago, Armand brought a group of artists together in Santa Fe to form Fine Art II.  The items were made of polyester and Armand still creates some of the designs himself. 

 

Armand Winfield

pendant

crystals embedded
in polyester

sterling silver tubing

sterling silver chain

Winfield Fine Art II

.................................................................

 

 

pendant

paper, paint, red foil

art made by Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry in the
 1940s, later encased in polyester by Winfield
 Fine Art II

sterling chain

 

Melissa Brown

earrings

flower petals, paint
 encased in polyester
 Winfield Fine Art II

sterling ear wires

 

THE EXHIBITIONS.....................................

The jewelry has been exhibited in numerous gallery and museum shows and is in the permanent collection of several museums. 

Shows:

Joint show with Karl Zerbe at the Boris Mirski Gallery in Boston in Oct-Nov. 1947

 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, February-April, 1948

 Contemporary Art Association of Houston, Texas, October-November, 1948,\

 Washington University, St. Louis, December 1948

Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, late 1949

 U.S.I.A. Exhibition, "Plastics--USA, to the USSR," May, September 1961.

Museum Collections:

Rotunda at the Smithsonian Museum of American History

Archives of the Cooper- Hewitt

North Museum, Lancaster, PA

Museum of Modern Art, purchased buckwheat in 1948

American Craft Museum, NY, 2001

Museum of Art & History in Albuquerque, 2002

Center for SW Research in Albuquerque, 2003

Boston Museum of Fine Arts recently accepted a selection of jewelry

Overseas:

National Science Museum, London

National Historical Plastic Museum, London

An Exhibit on the career of Armand Winfield is now being shown at the University of New Mexico Library in Albuquerque, New Mexico through May 17, 2003. Many of the pieces shown in this article are on display.

contact:

Kathlene Ferris
CSWR/Online Archive of New Mexico
University of New Mexico General Library
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1466
505-277-7172
kferris@unm.edu


THE MAN.....................................

If you say anything about me, you can say that I was the 27th person in the history of the US to be archived by the National Design Museum.  (with Raymond Loewy and Frank Lloyd Wright) 2

........................................................

There is not enough space here to even begin to list all the accomplishments of Armand G. Winfield. Here are only a few:

 He is an internationally recognized plastics consultant specializing in applications engineering and low cost housing for developing countries.  

He is the author of almost 300 articles, chapters, and books relating to plastics.

 He was archived as the First Scientist in The Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico's Zimmerman Library where his almost 300 publications make up a study collection along with bio-data and photos.  In 2000, he was archived in the Smithsonian Institution's National Design Museum: The Cooper-Hewitt in New York City for his work in Plastics in Architecture, Building, and Design. 

 He is also the recipient of the University of New Mexico's Popejoy Medal for his contributions to TRIP (Training and Research Institute for Plastics).

Mr. Winfield has been on the teaching faculties of eight American colleges and universities. He is a Fellow in the British Plastics and Rubber Institute (fourth American to receive this honor in 1970) and in the Society of Plastic Engineers (one of 150 in a membership of over 35,000 worldwide to receive it in 2000).

He was recently interviewed by the Kennedy Library.  John F. Kennedy wrote the forward for one of his published books.

He continues in his position as the Director of Training and Research Institute of Plastics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Armand Winfield is a charming, witty and disarming personality. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to spend a few hours listening to him tell the fascinating tales of his life's journey.

 

  back to the top

__________________________________________________________________

works cited:

1Clearly a Work of Art,  by Armand Winfield, Antiques and the Arts Weekly, The Bee Publishing Company, Newtown, Connecticut, July 6, 1979.

2 Interview by Marbeth Schon with Armand Winfield, Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 2002

3Paper Sculpture, by Arthur Sadler, 1946

4 Livingston, Dr. Valerie. Hans Moller, Purveyor of Color: the Essence of a Vision 1943-1995.  http://216.180.225.50/~monhegan/commons/modernism/moller/bio.html

5Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York
www.tibordenagy.com

6Floating Fashions by Raymond Rosenthal and Bernard Wolfe,  Cosmopolitan Magazine, March, 1947.

7http://www.williamzacha.com/hilda/perthaintro.html

8http://www.robertmann.com/artists/vestal/01.html

9www.observer.com

__________________________________________________________________

My sincere thanks to Jane Clark at Morning Glory Antiques in Albuquerque, New Mexico for her support and for allowing me to use photographs from her website and her article on Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry.

A selection of Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry pieces are available at M. Schon in Special Collections.

__________________________________________________________________

 

__________________________________________________________________

article by Marbeth Schon

Marbeth Schon is the owner of M. Schon Modern at www.mschon.com
She is moderator of SilverForum and Editor of MODERN SILVER magazine
Some of the above pieces can be purchased at www.mschon.com

email:
mschonmodern@gmail.com

photographs courtesy of The Antiques and the Arts Weekly, Jane Clark,
 
 www.mleestonefineprints.com,
 
www.tibordenagy.com, and Marbeth Schon

 Copyright 2003 Modern Silver Magazine

  Your comments are invited. 
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