“Artists’ jewels are like miniature sculptures” said Karine Lacquemant, the curator of the show “From Calder to Koons, artists’ jewels” at MAD. the exhibition is based on Diane Venet‘s fabulous collection, but it also comprises many paintings and sculptures that inspired jewelry. Don’t go there expecting to see magical stones. It is all about shapes.
The first pieces in the show were designed by Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti for Elsa Schiaparelli, André Derain and François Hugo, Georges Braque or Wilfredo Lam. They are a fantastic introduction to the very large collection of 200 pieces commissioned by Diane Venet over thirty years, from her artist friends.
Married to French sculptor Bernar Venet, Diane was struck when he gave her an engagement ring modeled after one of his sculptures. She decided to follow up on the idea and ask contemporary artists to create jewelry for her: this included Louise Bourgeois (silver necklace with cristal), Jaume Piensa, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Raymond Hains, Wim Delvoye, Dorothea Tanning, Meret Oppenheim… Some have realized especially brilliant pieces, but they are not so whimsical. They are all exhibited in the second floor galleries around the Grande Nef.
When a year ago, she met with the curator at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, now called MAD, to prepare the show, they decided to invite other jewel collectors to show their pieces including Didier and Martine Haspeslagh, Kim and Al Eiber and Louisa Guinness.
The result is a fabulous assemblage of 20 th and 21 st century pieces as varied as the colorful nanas by Nikki de Saint Phalle or the more stern and minimal pieces by Louise Nevelson.
Diane Venet can be proud of herself for initiating such a large exhibition but I was a bit disappointed by one thing: artists’ jewels are not pieces hat you want to wear. I find classical jewelry a very sensuous medium and yet I found myself quite indifferent to the exhibition.
It has to do with the difficulty of showing jewels. It could also lie in the contradiction between these miniature sculptures and the very whimsical nature of jewelry.
Brooches are the most convincing of all whether by Max Ernst, Raymond Hains or Louise Bourgeois’ famous spider. They do remain works of art rather than something you would like to wear.
If you are keen to see more affordable pieces, Diane Venet’s daughter, Esther de Beaucé, has a shop, Minimasterpiece, on 16 rue des Saints Pères where she sells artists’ jewelry! What a coincidence!
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