The Art Deco movement of the 20th century would have been far poorer if not for the influence of Romain de Tirtoff. Better known as Erte (the name comes from the French pronunciation of his initials, R and T), the French was at forefront of the Art Deco movement. His pioneering work has earned him the description, “Father of Art Deco”. It is fitting, therefore, that the Martin Lawrence Gallery in New York organized a special retrospective of the artist. A glittering soiree was held on 10 November at the newly renovated flagship Soho gallery to mark the event.
The Erte exhibition is spread across two floors and features the largest collection of works by the artist yet. Rare works of art by the artist held pride of place alongside bronze sculptures and limited edition serigraphs. Erte’s famous Numerals suite also featured in this elaborate display. According to reports, the collection will be up for sale at the gallery.
The exhibition also seemed the perfect launch pad for a new book on the artist. “Erté: A Celebration” by Charlotte Perman of Martin Lawrence Gallery was released during the event. As the name suggests, the book follows Erte’s career as an artist. The book, which was published by Chalk & Vermillion, also features essays by the likes of Stella McCartney, Barbara Streisand, Twiggy as also friends of the artist, curators and art critics.
Perman met Erte when she was a child. The author’s father Ray Perman, once the chief executive of Christie’s International, owns the copyright and trademark to Erte’s work. Perman’s personal association with the artist is sure to provide interesting insights into the Frenchman’s works.
The featured essays also feature insightful comments about the artist and his art. For instance, Stella McCartney first met the artist on a flight when she was a teenager. In talking about Erte’s illustrations, she says, “…his work is simply beautiful, incredibly delicate and overwhelmingly sensual.”
One of the highlights of the Erte retrospective is The Clasp bag created by jeweler Stefano Canturi. The Clasp is inspired by a purse that Erte had created in 1926 for a production of George White’s “Scandals”. When Chalk & Vermillion published a print of this design as a limited edition seriograph, the print sold out instantly. Canturi’s reinterpretation of the clasp bag combines Erte’s opulence with Canturi’s own skill as a jeweler.
There can be no questioning the opulence quotient of The Clasp by Canturi. The jeweler has used 3,978 diamonds, 63 sapphires and 43 rubies to create this glittering masterpiece. The precious stones are set on a base of 540 grams of 18-carat gold. The creation is intended to be a sort of homage to the late artist and has been placed on display at St. Petersburg, Erte’s hometown. But if someone evinced an interest to buy the piece, they would have to fork out an impossible $780,000 for it.
The ostentatious little clasp bag was first revealed at the gallery show dedicated to Erte. Truly, it must have been a fitting tribute to an artist who has inspired not just the art world, but also the realm of luxury fashion to a great extent.