Anish Kapoor on your finger? Louise Bourgeois hanging from the lapel of a jacket? François Morellet on the neck? Artists sometimes compete with jewelers. Except that their creations are as much decoration as miniature sculptures. “Architects think in terms of volume, bring boldness, monumentality, renew the genre”praises Esther de Beaucé, founder of Paris gallery MiniMasterpiece.
Artists sometimes resort to shoddy materials, gestures forbidden in the eyes of fine jewelry, and heretical techniques, such as Jacqueline de Jong’s dried potatoes and yellow gold necklace, offered for €10,000 on MiniMasterpiece.
There is nothing small or marginal about this tiny art. Modern artists have always made jewelry for their companions and friends before they began to collaborate on a more sophisticated scale with goldsmiths such as François Hugo or Giancarlo Montebello. Thus, Picasso transformed his earthenware into sumptuous jewelry, Salvador Dalí rejected his soft watches and other obsessions for minis.
Art jewelry managed to escape the scorn that jewelry had long held, devalued by moralists who saw in them only basic coquetry and refinement, if not vice. “A gem of art is not flamboyant like a river of diamonds, we cannot necessarily estimate its value”, insists Esther de Beaucé. The exhibition “Medusa”, organized in 2017 at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, demolished the clichés and reminded us that the jewelry of the contemporary artist is ambiguous and often transgressive.
The quality claimed by the publishing house Le Buisson, which offers online and in the Paris gallery Loeve & Co the creations of Thé Mercier, Julien Carrey, Jean-Luc Verna or Mrzyk & Moriceau between 290 and 6,500 euros. “Our specialty is that we don’t publish the artist’s icons in a scaled-down form, like children’s chairs might be scaled down, but individual designs that make up the work, so the artist’s name doesn’t stand out like a neon sign displaying a brand”, specifies Francis Fichot, co-founder of the house, with the late Michèle Monory.
A trip to the big names
More exclusive than a piece of art, art jewelry is also much more affordable, between €650 and €38,000 for a MiniMasterpiece. At her London colleague Louisa Guinness, it costs £3,200 before tax (€3,687) for a unique earring by the very refined David Shrigley.
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