LITERATURE: Victor Arwas, Art Deco, New York: Abrams, 1980. Mel Byars, “Claudius Linossier” in The Design Encyclopedia, London: Laurence King Publishing; New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004.
Art Deco metal work encompassed many techniques and materials. One highly important metal smith was Claudius Linossier, who was drawn to a technique referred to as dinanderie, which took its name from the Flemish town of Dinant, a center for brass work during the Middle Ages.
Linossier became an apprentice metal worker in his native Lyon when he was quite young, and by the age of 13, he had mastered embossing, engraving, enameling, metal incrustation, and just about every important metal technique. He moved to Paris from Lyon, and worked as a silversmith and goldsmith before joining Jean Dunand for three months to learn some of his techniques. He studied the properties of silver and various alloys, which later enabled him to achieve his unique effects. Linossier did not stay with silver for very long, however, as it was expensive, and he decided to devote himself exclusively to dinanderie.
The outstanding element of his work was his mastery of metal incrustation. He was an admirer of Etruscan pottery, and used this as inspiration for many of his forms. Metal incrustation is a painstaking and demanding technique. He began with silver and copper, hand-raising each piece, and adorning it with silver inlay. Soon, however, he wanted more color, and began developing his own alloys. He fashioned these into small ingots, and fashioned from these thin plaquettes that he graded by color.
After the vase had been hand formed, the design had to be created by cutting away the metal where he wanted to insert another color. This was usually done with acid, and the technique, also used in enameling, is referred to as champlevé. Then, he carefully fitted each plaquette into the allotted space, and subjected the entire piece to heat. This was a delicate process, as each metal has a specific melting point and co-efficient of expansion. Once this step was successfully completed, he oxidized the inlays to achieve the subtle tones that gave each finished piece it’s richness. By these difficult and painstaking techniques, he was able to create shaded tones of rose, silvery white, grays, pinks, yellows, mauves, and black.
Linossier’s work was unique, and full of subtle beauty. He favored geometric patterns, but created figurative designs as well. Beginning in 1921, Linossier exhibited with the Société des Artistes Decorateurs. Linossier’s work was featured in several different stands at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris, Salon of Société des Artistes Français, and Salon d’Automne. In 1932, Linnosier was elected to the Legion d’Honneur.
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