Margaret De Patta

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Margaret De Patta
De Patta attended the Academy of Fine Arts in San Diego, California, the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and the Art Students League in New York. She studied metalsmithing with Armenian-born artisan Armin Hairenian and by 1935 had her own studio and was selling jewelry through a craft gallery in San Francisco. She attended Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design in Chicago ( 1940-41) and there met and married Eugene Bielawski. They returned to San Francisco where they began a limited production operation of her jewelry which was sold in many national outlets; In 1951 she and Bielawski moved to Napa, California and attempted to open a school based on the Bauhaus philosophy. This never materialized and in 1956 De Patta stopped manufacturing and returned to making one-of-a-kind pieces. She was one of the most recognized modern jewelers winning numerous local and national awards. She also helped to found the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild.


Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta
26 February 4, 2012 – May 13, 2012

Presented in conjunction with the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Oakland Museum of California presents a retrospective exhibition on the work of pioneer jeweler Margaret De Patta. A seminal figure in the American Modernist Jewelry movement, De Patta was born in 1903 and moved to the Bay Area in 1923. Distinguished as one of the few American jewelers whose work and ideas were allied to the evolving ideas presented in the modern art movement, De Patta’s work was heavily influenced by the Constructivists and features architectural forms with simple lines, structure, and often movable parts. Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta features more than 60 jewelry pieces as well as ceramics, flatware, photographs, pictograms, and newly released archival material. OMCA holds the largest collection of De Patta’s work, most of which was donated by her husband, Eugene Bielawski, after the artist’s untimely death in 1964.

Co-Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, and Oakland Museum of California.Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta is made possible in part by support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Rotasa Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design at University of North Carolina, Asheville. The OMCA presentation is made possible by additional support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board and the OMCA Art Guild.


Museum of arts and design
2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

Space, Light, Structure
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 to Sunday, September 23, 2012