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Art & Design

Erik Magnussen, Cubic coffee service, 1927, The Gorham Collection. Gift of Textron Inc.

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Gorham Manufacturing Company Erik Magnussen

Cubic coffee service

Erik Magnussen, designer
Danish, 1884-1961
Gorham Manufacturing Company, manufacturer
American, 1831-
Cubic coffee service
Silver with gilding and ivory
24.1 x 54.6 x 34 cm (9 1/2 x 21 1/2 x 13 3/8 inches) (overall)
The Gorham Collection. Gift of Textron Inc. 1991.126.488

To capture Jazz Age spirit in their silver, Gorham enticed internationally known silversmith Erik Magnussen to work for the company from 1925 to 1929. In this geometric set—-recognized as one of the most striking examples of modern metalwork in American art—-Magnussen’s daring forms have surfaces broken up by contrasting triangles of gilt and oxidized silver. The angularity is based on paintings by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, hence the name Cubic coffee service. In 1927, the New York Times dubbed this service the “Lights and Shadows of Manhattan.” Magnussen intended his design to be distinctly American, so its sparkling surfaces understandably evoke skyscrapers, radio, motorcars, and jazz music.

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