In Barcelona I saw an exhibition of over 300 works exploring artists, from Modernism to the Avant Garde, who found themselves straying in to the world of jewellery design. With pieces of jewellery displayed in conjunction with sculptures, paintings, and photographs the exhibition was fabulously curated to suggest the relationship between 'art' and 'craft'. Upon reflection these pieces of jewellery became small scale sculptures produced by artists such as Alexander Calder, Georges Braque, Picasso and Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali's jewellery was fantastically bejewelled and often focussed upon iconic images from his paintings so that they become dream objects.
“My art encompasses physics, mathematics, architecture, nuclear science – the psycho-nuclear, the mystico-nuclear – and jewelry – not paint alone,” Dali wrote in 1959, “My jewels are a protest against emphasis upon the cost of the materials of jewelery. My object is to show the jeweler’s art in true perspective – where the design and craftsmanship are to be valued above the material worth of the gems, as in Renaissance times.”
Alexander Calder's jewellery was my highlight, casting fantastic metal silhouettes and echoing the motion and flight of his aerials. Calder began making jewellery for his sister's dolls at the age of 6, for the rest of his life he carried wire and pliers in his pockets because he claimed he thought best in wire.
Angelica Houston wearing a piece of Calder's jewellery
Mark Rosenthal described the work perfectly when he wrote: 'In a lot of ways, this stuff isn’t very wearable at all, I think of the wearer as being sort of bewitched by the wearing of it but also like something surreal come to life, a surreal manifestation. There’s something so extravagant about these pieces, they almost transform the person wearing them.”
I will admit to only being able to offer you a small glimpse in to what is clearly a rich and largely unexplored topic, but I enjoyed doing a little research, a little light relief. And, breathe...