Margaret De Patta

02 - Margaret De Patta, Photogram

Margaret De Patta
American, 1903 - 1964

Gelatin silver print
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation

Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1903, Margaret De Patta spent most of her life in San Diego, California where she studied painting at the California School of Fine Arts. A move to New York City to study at the Art Students League introduced De Patta to the work of German Bauhaus artists and she was inspired by their focus on modernism and functionality. When De Patta returned to California in 1929 she began experimenting with jewelry, making her own wedding ring and going on to become a well-known jewelry designer by the mid 1930s. She created what she called “wearable sculptures”, which she sold to high-paying buyers.

In the 1940s, De Patta traveled to Chicago to attend classes at the Chicago Bauhaus, where she began creating a type of photograph called photograms. Photograms are created by placing objects of different transparencies on photosensitive paper and exposing them to light to create an image. De Patta’s work with photograms inspired the designs of her jewelry, and she also used her jewelry as subjects of her photograms, to study how light interacts with different materials, bringing her creativity full circle.