‘Sculpture to wear’: artists’ jewellery intrigues at Sotheby’s
Jewellery by artists including Man Ray, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor and Alexander Calder is set to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s East Hampton, in a selling exhibition
‘Sculpture to Wear’, a partnership between Louisa Guinness, of London’s Louisa Guinness Gallery, and Tiffany Dubin, of Sotheby’s New York, puts jewellery made by contemporary artists as the focus of a new selling exhibition at Sotheby’s East Hampton. It includes artist jewellery by the likes of Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor and Alexander Calder.
‘I believe that artist jewellery is an introduction to the artist’s essence, much in the same way as drawings, but jewellery has the added extraordinary magic of being art that you can wear,’ says Dubin. ‘This tactile connection reinforces how an individual has chosen to define his or her own aesthetic.’
Jewellery encompasses sensual curves and playful motifs in pieces that encapsulate the artist’s aesthetic. Jeff Koons draws a rabbit in platinum and dangles it from a pendant in a mischievous Playboy reference, while Anish Kapoor works with a goldsmith to cast hypnotising pools in pink and blue enamel. Claude Lalanne’s apples of galvanised copper add an elegance to earlobes; Alexander Calder’s brooch is a sculptural scribble of brass; Gavin Turk’s discarded apple cores are given new life when coated in gold or silver. Man Ray’s piece, complete with detachable pendant, is inspired by his 1936 painting, The Lovers – setting an intimate scene of a kiss of golden lips on the neck, it is wryly offset with the characteristically surreal touch of a hole, which the wearer can look through to alter their vision.
‘Artist jewellery pieces are small art treasures that reflect not only the time when they were made but also the artist’s position on the art stage within a network of institutions – museums, galleries, foundations, art collections and schools,’ adds Dubin. ‘This all adds to the fun of collecting works of sculpture that can be worn, carrying within the intrinsic characteristics of the design and the artist’s vision.’
For Guinness, the artists’ lack of formal jewellery training brings a welcome, instinctive rawness: ‘Painters and sculptors are not jewellers, and they do not spend most of their time making or designing jewellery,’ she says. ‘This is important because they are not trained in the field, and approach jewellery from a conceptual perspective. Artists are free of a goldsmith’s technical constraints and therefore are not restricted from conceiving designs that might elude a classic jeweller. They make things that are more challenging to wear and interesting to see – they bring a fresh perspective.’ §