September 30, 2011

"The Artist as Jeweler" at MAD

I'm afraid I've been remiss in posting blogs this month but I'm back in action with a full slate of new shows for the 2011 fall season! Let's start off with a visit to the Museum of Art and Design, or MAD as it is affectionately known, and their small but wonderful exhibition "Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler" that opened on September 20th and runs until early next year.

We are all familiar with traditional fine art forms, paintings, drawings, sculptures etc, articulating the sentiments of artists throughout the ages. This show explores a much more intimate means of expression - pieces of jewelry - often created as unique gifts for close friends or in very limited editions for a select few, and therefore not very well known to the museum going public. This presentation of 180 miniature artworks by some of the biggest names in Modern and Contemporary art reveals just how important to the artists' Ĺ“uvre these very private treasures are.

What surprised me the most about this exhibition was the cross section of artists who used jewelry as an artistic medium. I was familiar with the wire jewelry of Alexander Calder (see my blog "Calder P.S." January 11, 2009), the iconic "Ruby Lips" brooch of Salvador Dali and the gold spiral "Pendentif Pendent" earrings of Many Ray, but I had no idea that artists as diverse as Damian Hirst, Louise Bourgeous and Arman had created Lilliputian versions of some of their best known works such as a silver "Pill Charm" bracelet, a gold spider brooch and a silver deconstructed violin belt, respectively.

Grouped together in one vitrine were pins, bracelets and a watch by Pop Art icons Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Victor Vasarely and Andy Warhol. A gold and blue enamel "Water Ring" by Anish Kapoor was as beautiful in a small format as his larger convex colored sculptures. Italian "Spacialist" artist Lucio Fontana's silver and lacquer "Elisse Concetto Spaziale" bracelet was as elegant in miniature as his slashed monochrome oil paintings. And my personal favorite was a pair of silver earrings on a stand by George Rickey that were as mesmerising a kinetic sculpture as anything he created for the great outdoors.

I was very much looking forward to seeing this exhibition and I was not disappointed. Guest curator Diane Venet presents a strong selection of works by an amazing roster of artists, each confirming the supposition that these special pieces, personal and generally non-commercial, were in fact every bit the objets d'art as the larger more famous creations we go to art museums to see.

P.S. Special thanks to my friend Dong Kingman Jr. for taking me to the show!

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