The Last Word: Architect Elizabeth Diller on Bringing the DMA’s Cartier Exhibit to Life

I’m not a jewelry person. I don’t wear a thing. No rings, nothing. This was plunging into something unfamiliar.”

Elizabeth Diller
.…on creating the exhibition design for the Dallas Museum of Art exhibit “Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity,” via Artnet.

Here's "who said what" in Dallas Innovates Every Day.The Dallas Museum of Art is the only museum in the U.S. to host the exhibit “Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity,” on display through September 18. Islamic art was a major inspiration for Louis Cartier and the Maison Cartier in the early 20th century, resulting in astonishing, geometric jewelry creations. 

To create the exhibition design, the DMA hired the New York architecture firm DS+R, which created evocative settings in four rooms, with a single Cartier piece flanked by 14-foot-tall video screens. Videos on the screens create mesmerizing backgrounds for each solo piece of jewelry, in a play of light and darkness, large and small, precise geometric reality and visual dreaminess.

“A different way of viewing through technology really helped,” Diller told Artnet. The curators’ insight was very important to us. These Islamic patterns are contemporary. There are pure geometries here. These are almost frameless patterns that go on to make infinite atmospheres.”

Diller said her “eureka” moment was focusing on scale. “It all coalesced with this understanding of the radical scale difference,” she told Artnet. “With this realization, we could now see how you could tell different stories—even some of our own.”

Agustín Arteaga, director of the Dallas Museum of Art, says the exhibition “seeks to investigate and better understand the processes through which Islamic art, in particular, inspired a new style of jewelry, suited to the modern moment and formative of an influential, and much imitated, mode of self-adornment.”

To reserve tickets or for more information about the exhibit, visit the DMA’s exhibition website here.

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