02 January 2008

learning new things on the internets (about line vautrin), then maison21 goes off on a tangent (about c. jeré)

maison21 is always surprised out the amount of information that's out there on the internets- it really is so overwhelming, that's why i love all the other design blogs for filtering out just the interesting bits for me, and adding their own great observations. this week while going through all the incredibly sweet comments left on my new year's post, (really, you guys are too nice!), i read a comment by topsy turvey, a name i hadn't heard before and visited their great blog out of tampa. while there, maison21 learned something new! yay! we love the learning of the new things on the internets!

maison21 has been around the world of vintage fineries and the decorative arts for a loooonnng time, so had seen the name "line vautrine" attached to some pretty fab sunburst mirrors. in fact, he has even used it in his own ebay auction descriptions for a chic sunburst mirror or two. but he was using the name in ignorance- he always assumed that " line vautrin" was a company (i guess because of ligne roset, maybe) but topsy turvy set maison21 straight with a great post about the woman line vautrin, who was a talented french sculptor and jewelry designer (go read topsy turvy's bio of line vautrin here to learn more). maison21 then visited the website dedicated to line vautrin where he saw all kinds of great examples of her work, such as the sunburst mirror below, and the duck lamp (we didn't know she did anything other than mirrors, so thanks topsy!):

while visiting the line vautrin website, maison21 also saw how her work has been very influential in the work of others. here is an original line vautrin mirror:

now doesn't it look a lot like this c. jeré mirror that hung in maison21's own dining room several years ago?

now here is where maison21 had a moment of personal irony, and maison21 is not talking about the ironic fact that maison21 sold his mirror- probably the finest example of it's type he's ever seen- for about the same price as artisan house reissue, whereas now, just a few years later, c. jeré originals are fetching many times that price (there is a similar mirror on 1stdibs right now for $10,000).
the irony that maison21 is referring to, is that he had always thought line vautrin to be a large-ish manufacturer of decorative accessories, where in fact it was a single artist producing limited editions of her works in a small workshop, and c. jeré, who was riffing on line vautrin with the above mirror, is assumed by almost everyone to be single prolific artist working in metal, but in fact, there was never an artist named c. jeré at all- the name c. jeré is a pseudonym front for a large manufacturer of metal based decorative accessories! see the irony?

most people think c. jeré as an artist of the 60's and 70's who created sculptures, and decorative accessories for the home, like these:

but c. jeré (full fake name: curtis jeré) is a actually a play on the names of jerry fels and kurt freiler, founders of the los angeles based metal working company "artisan house". legend has it that the two combined their first names to form the name of the imaginary artist, and added the accent so the artist sounded french (read "fancy"). the company, artisan house, behind the name was actually composed of many metal workers, some of whom were indeed artists in their own right, but many of whom were merely welders and machinists. while many of the items produced by artisan house are indeed "art", the goal of artisan house was never really about fine art, but more about commerce. some of the items produced by "c. jeré" are really quite unique and stunning and do rise to the level of fine art and high design, but lots of the items produced were more in the line of "dogs playing poker" like this train station wall sculpture (image lifted from ebay):
whether stunning or kitschy, all of the items produced by c. jeré and artisan house were made by hand, and while they can't quite match the level of craftsmanship as those of a real artist, like line vautrin, they are works of art in their own right and as such, deserve to be collected and admired. if you look at the c. jeré mirror i once owned, and compare it to the reasonably priced reissue, you'll see why the originals deserve to get the big bucks, and even the less spectacular pieces still deserve to have semi-hefty price tags due to their handmade nature and limited numbers. still, it cracks maison21 up to see c. jeré items sold in some very expensive galleries as "signed by the artist", because yes, they are signed, but there was no artist!

by the way, artisan house is still in existence and churning out the metal art, but no longer owned by jerry and kurt or based in southern california. most of the current items offered are pretty dreadful in maison21's opinion but there are occasionally some pretty cool pieces in the mix too. go check it out for yourself at their website: artisan house online.

thus concludes today's episode of "learning new things on the internets"- maison21 learned something and he hopes you did too!


Topsy Turvy said...

Thanks so much for the mention Maison21! And the link. And for teaching me something - I wasn't familiar with c. jeré. That's what is so great about blogging. There are so many brilliant people out here in blogland and there is always so much to learn. And the best is when it's fun - like you!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... lucky me, I don't really like this stuff, so I don't have to worry about it. Thanks fer learning me something new, though! (Btw, your example is the loveliest.)

Leah said...

Wow -- that sunburst mirror at top is freakin' gorgeous.

And thanks so much for clearing up the C. Jere mystery! I knew it wasn't an actual person, but hadn't managed to turn up much info on the company in my previous wanderings through the internets. Muchas gracias for the very thorough primer.

All the best,


Anonymous said...


becky said...

So fascinating, I always assumed C. Jere was a groovy dude! and I'm ashamed to say I knew nothing about the starburst-line vautrin connection. Thanks for schooling me!