Edgar Brandt was a consummate artist-blacksmith who combined traditional forging methods with emerging technologies of the machine age such as torch welding and power hammers. While aligning art with industrial methods, Brandt produced objects d’art and embellished buildings and monuments in the Art Deco. Building on the pioneering work of the artist-blacksmith Emile Robert, Brandt became a leading force during a period of great achievement in French decorative arts. He created an entirely new aesthetic for wrought smithing and left behind an impressive number of art historical works.
Brandt was born in Paris in 1880 and educated at the Ecole Professionel de Vierzon. At 18 he graduated the Brevet Technicien Superieur and served two years in the 153rd infantry in Nancy. During his military time, he observed that the French infantry had no light versatile long target-range weapons. He returned to Paris with an order to produce a 60mm mortar and the ammunition. His subsequent design, and those for 81mm, and 120mm mortars were widely copied throughout WWI and WWII. In 1902 he opened his business etablissements Brandt to produce ironwork and light armaments. In 1908 Brandt was awarded a Salon prize. After the WWI, he created the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Paris Arc de Triomphe.
Brandt began producing wrought-iron pieces ranging from gateways, grills, radiator covers, and elevator doors to lamp bases, consoles, screens, and chairs. Chandeliers and lamps were designed and produced in collaboration with the glass manufacturer - Daum Freres - in Nancy. All were done in the popular Art Nouveau style of the day. His wrought-iron was completed with a bronze finish and often incorporated architectural elements with floral motifs. At 29 Brandt was hailed as the rising star of metalwork design by the influential "Art et Decoration."
In 1919, after inheriting a machine shop from his father, Brandt opened a studio with the help of thirty metalworkers and designers, and the architect Henri Favier. He participated in the famous Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs de 1925 in Paris. Brandt was a major focal point, exhibiting, among other things, several monumental grills commissioned for the entrance hall of the Salon d'Ambassade Francais. He was also responsible for the installation of the Pavillion d'un Collectionneur by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, the famous furniture designer.
Brandt’s style began to shift and reflect the geometric forms and the stylized aesthetic of Art Deco. As Brandt’s popularity grew he accepted more commissions to produce custom work for private houses and apartments. These singular pieces were often collaborations with the leading cabinet makers and designers of the period.
Edgar Brandt opened a gallery in New York and another one at the Boulevard Malesherbes in Paris. He created for embassies, hotels and liners. All the rich and famous wanted and paid for his works. He was awarded the title of Knight of the Legion of Honor, and received the Medal of Honor for Applied Art by the Societe des Artistes Francais In 1939, he moved to Switzerland and died in Geneva in 1960. Brandt is considered the greatest exponent of Art Deco metal work.