Oral history interview with Irena Brynner

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.brynne01
Creators:
Brynner, Irena
Fisch, Arline M.
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Dates:
2001 April 26-27
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
67 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Irena Brynner conducted 2001 April 26-27, by Arline M. Fisch, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Brynner's home and studio, New York, New York.
Scope and Contents
Brynner speaks of her childhood in Vladivostok in Primorski Krai, Russia; her artistic family including her cousin Yul Brynner; fleeing from Russia to Darian (on the southern tip of the Liaotung peninsula, in the Kwantung Leased Territory of Manchuria); her art studies in Lausanne, Switzerland; her father's illness during World War II; moving with her mother to San Francisco in 1946; her studies with Ralph Stackpole and Franz Bergman in San Francisco; her relationship with architect Frank Merwin; teaching art in Catholic schools in San Francisco; her decision to make jewelry after seeing Claire Falkenstein's sculpture; working as an apprentice to Caroline Rosene and Franz Bergman; forming the Metal Arts Guild with Bob Winston, Merry Renk, Florence Resnikoff, Margaret De Patta, and others; and introducing forging and three-dimensional jewelry in the Metal Arts Guild. She also talks about her move to New York City in 1957; acting as her own agent; "open-air art shows" in San Francisco; her first show at Walker & Eberling; starting her own shop; teaching at the Craft Students League and at MoMA's Institute of Modern Art, at Victor D'Amico's invitation, circa 1962; her friendships with students and clients; her book, "Jewelry as an Art Form" (New York : Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979) and its influence; learning to work with a Henes water welder; the treatment of women artists in America; her move to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1972, and the difficulties of starting a shop there; and her return to New York and reestablishing her career in the United States. Brynner also discusses her interest in singing, her voice lessons, her public performances of Russian classical music, and her health.
Scope and Contents
She comments on the intuitive development of her jewelry; the influence of Margaret De Patta; learning wax techniques from Bob Winston at Mills College; her progression from geometric to organic forms; her large-scale sculpture; her invention of "wrap-around earrings"; her use of niobium in the 1980s; drawing inspiration from Antonio Gaudi, Alberto Jaccometti, and others; involvement with the community of artists in the San Francisco Bay Area; the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG); craft periodicals; her exhibitions at the Little Gallery of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, the Musée de l'horlogerie et de l'émaillerie in Geneva, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and others; her work in museum collections; serving as a juror; and writing her memoir. Brynner recalls Georg Jensen, Grete Daniels, Trudy Jeremias, Aaron Faber, David Campbell, and others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Irena Brynner (1917-2003) was a jeweler from New York, New York. Arline M. Fisch (1931- ) is a metalsmith from San Diego, California.

Administration
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

General
General
Originally recorded on 4 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 7 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 41 min.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Women artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jewelers -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Decorative arts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bergman, Franz Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Campbell, David Robert, 1907-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Daniels, Grete Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Faber, Aaron Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jensen, Georg Arthur, 1866-1935 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jeremias, Trudy Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rosene, Caroline Gleick, 1907- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Resnikoff, Florence Lisa Herman Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stackpole, Ralph, 1885-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Winston, Robert, 1915- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Renk, Merry, 1921-2012 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
De Patta, Margaret, 1903-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Craft Students League -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
San Francisco Metal Arts Guild Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Society of North American Goldsmiths Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Renwick Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
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Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/