Arts / Museums

Preview — Inside the Dallas Museum of Art’s Diamond-Studded Cartier Exhibit

What to Expect from "Cartier and Islamic Art"

BY // 08.19.21

Texas museum-goers haven’t seen an exhibition spun around international jewelry house Cartier in two decades — not since “Cartier Design Viewed by Ettore Sottsass” touched down at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2004. Now, 18 years later, the Dallas Museum of Art plans its own triumphant look at Cartier — one told from a unique, global perspective. “Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity,” opening in Dallas in May 2022, is co-organized by the DMA (its only North American venue) and its counterpart in France, the elevated Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (MAD Paris, housed in a wing of the Louvre).

The exhibition swells to more than 400 objects, double the imprint of Cartier x Sottsass at the MFAH. Worldwide loans traveling to Dallas will encompass treasures from the vaults of Cartier, MAD Paris, the Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum, and the Keir Collection of Islamic Art (currently on loan to the DMA), joined by others yet to be revealed. This bounty makes the DMA show the rarest of bijoux blockbusters, with only one other international venue — MAD, Paris, where the exhibition launches this October before arriving in Dallas next year.

037 Ewer, late 10th-early 11th century, rock crystal, with enameled gold repairs and fittings by Jean-Valentin Morel
Ewer, late 10th-early 11th century, rock crystal, with enameled gold repairs and fittings by Jean-Valentin Morel. The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the DMA.

What makes this take on Cartier particularly exceptional — compared to other museum exhibitions mounted on the centuries-old Maison Cartier, established 1847 — is its emphasis on the innovations and globalism of Louis Cartier and his coterie of designers, vis-à-vis the influence and inspiration of Islamic art, architecture, and jewelry, concurrent with the house’s exploration of gemstones and iconography from India, Iran, and the Arab lands. Grandson of founder Louis-François Cartier, Paris-based Louis Cartier (1875-1942) was famously known as the creative genius behind the jewelry house, with an avowed interest in design motifs culled from Islamic and Far Eastern kingdoms.

“Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity” at the Dallas Museum of Art, May 14 through September 18, 2022, dma.org.

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