Whether sewn safely onto a cloth coat or lost somewhere in a jewelry drawer, a simple decorative piece or the unassuming hero, a nostalgic relic or a piece of warped plastic – what a button lacks in size, it makes up for in rich history and personality.
Believe it or not, these seemingly Lilliputian ornaments have played a significant role in the attestation of social status, were once banned from Churches, yet enforced onto the jacket sleeves of Prussian servants, and have even led to two full-fledged wars. Over time, buttons have become vehicles for beautification and artistic expression. They are fabricated from a wide range of materials, including traditional ivory, bone, wood and various metals, as well as ceramic, mother of pearl, tortoise shell and synthetic substances like celluloid, glass, Bakelite and plastic.
Button collecting is an "act of passion, for some, almost an obsession". Curator Dr. Doron J. Lurie found beauty in this passionate obsession and translated it to a brilliant exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Gilding the Lily: Buttons and Other Ornaments brings tens of thousands of buttons from private collections together with the purpose of shining the much-deserved spotlight on their boundless beauty.
On display through June 10, 2017. Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 27 Shaul HaMelech Blvd (tamuseum.org.il)