I hope you enjoyed the first post in my new Selling Vintage A to Z series: A is for…..Anthropomorphic. For this second post, I’m covering another topic that I touched on in the blog years ago: Brutalism or Brutalist style.
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I’d seen the word “Brutalist” here and there on Etsy and it seemed to get a lot of attention. I decided to do research to make sure that A) I could identify the style myself and B) that I would be using the keyword correctly.
Brutalism began as an architectural style.
(All photos above are from brutalism.online as shown in the watermark.) The buildings are: (clockwise from top) 1. Habitat 67 from the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal, Quebec, Canada 2. One Police Plaza in NYC and 3. Freeway Park in Seattle, WA.
The Brutalist architectural movement was a spin-off from the modernist movement of the first half of the 20th century and had its heydey from the 1950s to 1970s. The style had its fans…and its detractors. It was controversial.
Concrete was used a lot, often revealing the texture of the boards that were used in the forms. Le Corbusier used the French phrase “beton-brut” or ‘raw concrete’ to describe his work…and from this French phrase, the term “Brutalist” was coined.
There is much, much more to the architectural style and history. If this interests you, I found a great website called BRUTALISM:ONLINE
What fascinated me was how this style spilled over to smaller objects of the time. I’ve seen the word “brutalist” applied to jewelry, wall decor, furniture, sculptures and other home decor items. And this is where it gets interesting for us sellers of vintage.
Examples of Brutalist style
Let’s look at some examples because this is how I learned. Brutalism may be hard to describe in just a few sentences but you will soon begin to recognize it when you see it. Think repeated geometric forms yet often asymmetric and abstract. Rough texture. Earth tones. More organic and natural vs machine produced precision.
We’ll start big with furniture and then go smaller.
As you can see, there can be some big bucks involved if you find Brutalist style furniture, especially if there are designer names attached. But that top credenza or dresser is by Lane..a popular mid century furniture maker whose pieces are not ultra rare.
See more Brutalist style furniture here.
Wall decor, tabletop sculptures, lamps and clocks were also influenced by the movement.
See more Brutalist style home decor here. Take a note of the prices.
One of my favorite categories that showcases the Brutalist style is jewelry. I have only found a handful of pieces myself. This was the most recent one. This pendant is not a high ticket item but it is signed by Napier and it definitely has that Brutalist influence. It went into my own jewelry box. 🙂
See more Brutalist style jewelry here. Take a note of the prices.
Okay, so keywords associated with this style would be:
brutalist, modernist, mid century, organic, torch cut, abstract, asymmetric, textured, burnished
You may have noticed that some sellers use Robert Larin-style or Guy Vidal-style. I don’t recommend that if the pieces are not signed by those makers. Technically it’s keyword spamming. And it’s not necessary. The word “brutalist” alone will get you the views and buyers you need if the style fits.
Now, I do understand this style is not for everyone. You may look at these pieces of decor or jewelry and think to yourself “who would pay that kind of money for that piece of ugly??”. But that’s the point of a vintage education.
You take the time to look at different styles and niches and you train your eye. You stop dismissing things as “ugly” and start seeing the value in them.
What do you think of the ‘brutalist’ style? Have you thrifted anything brutalist? Is it a new keyword for you?
Thanks for joining us on the latest installment of our series. Stay tuned for the Letter C!!