Ibram Lassaw: Wearable Sculptures

February 3, 2016

Ibram Lassaw (1913–2003) was a pioneering American abstract sculptor whose expressionistic and evanescent welded wire-and-alloy pieces presaged the open-form sculptures of later artists such as John Chamberlain and Mark Di Suvero. Like many modernist sculptors–most notably Alexander Calder, Harry Bertoia, and Claire Falkenstein–Lassaw turned to jewelry as a means to test theories and methods and practice his art in miniature. Starting in the early 1950s, Lassaw would create some 1,000 unique jewelry pieces, mostly pendants, in materials ranging from bronze and copper to gold plate. His jewelry manifests the same sense of dynamism and immediacy seen in his full-scale sculptures. Though Lassaw rejected the notion of representational art, he was fascinated by cosmology and concepts of celestial space–several of his sculptures are named for constellations–and these wearable artworks reflect that interest.

Lot 381, Ibram Lassaw, Necklace

Lot 381, Ibram Lassaw, Necklace, 1956–1957
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lassaw’s work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Lot 382, Ibram Lassaw, bosom sculpture (pendant), 1956-1957
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lassaw, Denise. “A Brief History of Ibram Lassaw’s Jewelry.” 2015. Neu, Renée Sabatello. Jewelry by Contemporary Painters and Sculptors. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1967. Print. Schon, Marbeth. Modernist Jewelry 1930–1960: The Wearable Art Movement. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 2004. Print

Lot Information:

Lot 381
Ibram Lassaw
Executed 1956-1957
3″ x 6.5″
Together with vintage gelatin silver print and two photographs of the artist
Provenance: James Byrnes (gifted directly by the artist, c. 1960s);
Thence by descent
Estimate: $6,000 – $9,000
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 382
Ibram Lassaw
Bosom sculpture (pendant)
Executed 1956-1957
3.5″ x 3.25″
Together with North Carolina Museum of Art catalogue, vintage silver gelatin print, and copy of receipt from The Kootz Gallery
Provenance: The Kootz Gallery, New York, New York;
James Byrnes, Los Angeles, California;
Thence by descent
Illustrated: Panel’s Choice 1957 exh. cat. Cover illustration.
Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

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