This topic is incredibly large-scale, because jewelry has been attracting artists and sculptors for a long time, and women are never averse to decorating themselves with original works, even if they are made of brass wire and without precious stones. The art jewelry movement, which gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, completely erased the differences between academic and decorative arts. Now the artistic works of painters and sculptors can be worn as jewelry, and the artists themselves begin creative experiments in jewelry. One of the tales about Picasso says that the restless genius, bored in the dentist's chair, came up with the idea of making a necklace from medical instruments and pulled out teeth. Another famous necklace was made by the surrealist Man Ray for the wife of the ethnographer William Seabrook: Man Ray’s sadistic inclinations were then discussed throughout Paris: the massive silver collar, although it looked impressive, practically did not allow its “victim” to breathe.
From sculpture to brooch
American gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim passionately collected not only paintings by artists, but also designer jewelry. Most of these items were made by the very same artists whose work was exhibited in her Venetian palazzo. Yves Tanguy presented her with earrings with a lunar landscape, and Alexander Calder presented her with huge wire mobile earrings in the spirit of his own kinetic sculptures. In 1942, at the opening of her New York gallery, The Art of This Century, she appeared wearing two different earrings, hinting that surrealism and abstract art were equally close to her. The most prolific artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, also did not stay away from the jewelry business. In the 1930s, for his beloved Dora Maar, the artist made rings with his own portraits of her using polychrome enamel technique, and in the 1970s, together with the jewelry atelier François Hugo, he released a limited series of jewelry. Artist Niki de Saint Phalle, together with Italian jewelry makers Gem Montebello, made miniature versions of her cartoonish multicolor sculptures: brooches with smiling snakes, pendants in the form of plump, jubilant ladies named Nana, surreal necklaces with lips, eyes and hands. Precious surrealism, but in a slightly less cheerful version, was created by Salvador Dali. The artist sought to "show the art of jewelry in a true perspective, where design and craftsmanship should be valued above the material value of precious stones, as during the Renaissance." He did his work together with New York jeweler Carlos Alemany. His most famous creations are the Mae West brooch with ruby lips and pearl teeth (1949) and The Eye of Time, an eye with an enamel watch instead of an iris.
Many of the jewelry pieces listed above could be seen in 2011 at the exhibition “From Picasso to Koons: the Artist as Jeweler” at the New York Museum of Art and Design; a few years later, a more expanded exhibition was shown at the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts under the title “ From Calder to Koons: Artists' Jewelry." Her ideological inspiration was the collector Diana Vene. Her collection began with a ring in the form of a twisted strip of silver wire, which was presented to her by her future husband, the sculptor Bernard Venet, as a marriage proposal.
Artists for big brands
The tradition of inviting independent artists to collaborate is especially strong at Tiffany & Co. The American brand attracted the most outstanding and extraordinary characters from the art world to create jewelry: from Pablo Picasso’s daughter Paloma to the architect Frank Gary. The latest - and most controversial - were collaborations with artist Daniel Arsham.
Salvador Dali came up with a series of Dali d`Or watches and jewelry for the Piaget brand with his own personalized gold coin, which had four denominations. And Jean Cocteau, an outstanding creative figure on the art scene of the 20th century, painted the famous Trinity ring for Cartier, consisting of three rings of different shades of gold.
Bulgari's bestsellers have also been transformed by artists. The iconic B.zero1 ring was designed by Anish Kapoor, transforming the traditional spiral into a mirror-polished steel surface. And the legendary Zaha Hadid produced an architectural deconstruction of a ring inspired by the Roman Colosseum.
The latest art project is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Serpenti. The famous Bulgari snake motif has been reinterpreted by Refik Anadol, David Quayola, Daniel Rosin, Keith M. and other contemporary artists. Their installations, including immersive ones, will be held in Tokyo and Beijing until the end of 2023.
Jewelers in museums
Like the paintings of painters, jewelry receives a residence in museum spaces. Often even permanent. The Jewelry Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London owns more than 3 thousand exhibits that tell the history of jewelry from antiquity to the present day: from a late Bronze Age collar found in Ireland to a modern brooch designed by Barbara Paganin. The Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris also has an extensive jewelry gallery, which is annually updated with new jewelry from contemporary designers. And two years ago, a large-scale exhibition-research “Cartier and Islamic Art. The Origins of Modernity". The first jeweler to receive a personal lifetime exhibition at the museum was Joël Arthur Rosenthal (JAR): in 2013, his extraordinary jewelry was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2016, the Kremlin Museums held an exhibition of the most titled and famous Russian jeweler, Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, a virtuoso master of working with enamel. Another domestic brand, Epic Jewelery, is a partner of the Shchusev Museum of Architecture: the company supported the exhibition “Falconier: Architect of Light” by presenting jewelry with specially designed stones reminiscent of the glass bricks of the Swiss architect Gustave Falconier.