Elisabetta Cipriani creates wearable sculptures in new artist collaborations

Elisabetta Cipriani’s new works include partnerships with Giuseppe Penone and Sophia Vari

gold rings and necklaces from Elisabetta Cipriani
The ‘Salva’ ring by Giuseppe Penone, commissioned by Elisabetta Cipriani
(Image credit: Elisabetta Cipriani)

Elisabetta Cipriani turns her discerning eye to a host of new creative collaborations in her latest work, which pushes the boundaries of wearable art, resulting in offbeat and exquisite jewellery pieces.

Cipriani's latest collaboration – ‘Salvia’ (Sage) – with Italian artist Giuseppe Penone, builds on the latter’s exploration of living sculpture and considers the relationship between nature and humanity, drawn in precious materials. The piece marks the second time the duo have worked together, after the ‘Foglia’ (Leaf) necklace 11 years ago. It joins other new pieces, including a selection of Sophia Vari portable sculptures.

gold rings and necklaces

Ring by Sophia Vari

(Image credit: Elisabetta Cipriani)

‘Giuseppe Penone never approached jewellery independently,’ Cipriani says of their partnership’s beginnings. ‘Penone is incredibly versatile and has worked with a variety of materials on different scales. This project for my gallery is a natural extension of his artistic oeuvre. Similarly to the artist’s sculptural work, the ring addresses the relationship between man and nature. “Salvia“ ring is a wearable sculpture reproducing a highly detailed sage leaf upon which a musical note has been gently applied. Penone opted for a highly realistic representation of the object, reproducing with exquisite precision and craftsmanship the structure of the sage, the little veins, the stem and the lamina.

‘By juxtaposing the organic and the musical element, Penone invites us to immerse ourselves in the melody of nature, to let our mind wander and bring back the memory of the sound of the wind among the trees, the rustling of the leaves, and the gentle blowing of the breeze on our skin.’

gold rings and necklaces

Necklace by Sophia Vari

(Image credit: Elisabetta Cipriani)

Cipriani’s work with Sophia Vari also invites us to consider art through the medium of sculpture, nodding to Vari’s experience 30 years ago of carrying a small box of plasticine with her when she travelled, from which she created miniature sculptures. ‘From that day on, she had a new creative challenge that gave her a lot of joy, because she could see the pieces being worn,’ Cipriani adds. ‘Vari approaches wearable art in precisely the same manner and strength as her abstract sculptures, collages and paintings. Her thorough exploration of bold geometric forms, [and] the examination of volume, painterly curves and lines result in [a] composition [that is] both peaceful and elegant but also captures a harmonious theatrical tension. The portable sculptures are a continuation of the artist’s work. There is no difference between the two art forms.’

Both artists are united in rethinking jewellery’s traditional parameters, imbuing an inherent functionality with a clean aestheticism. ‘Artists’ jewellery can also be displayed on a table like a small sculpture and [the pieces] have meaningful stories to tell. They are not purchased for their medium and craftmanship, but for the only reason that they truly are three-dimensional sculptures made by visual artists.’  

Elisabetta Cipriani can be seen at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022, from 1 to 3 December


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.