19 November 2015

The Artist As Jeweler

The Artist As Jeweler
The Artist As Jeweler: From Picasso To Jeff Koons is the catalogue of an exhibition (From Picasso To Koons) held in New York in 2011. The book features reproductions of around 200 items of jewellery, though not all pieces from the exhibition are included.

More than half of the exhibits are from the collection of Diane Venet, who edited the book and writes a long and self-serving introduction: "I also enjoy bringing out my different pieces from their jewelry boxes in order to expose them to the eyes of the collector." (Translation: she likes looking at them.) This is followed by an obsequious essay on Venet's collection by her friend Adrien Goetz: "Diane possesses all the rigor and discernment typical of the true collector."

The rest of the book comprises individual profiles of modern artist-jewellers and large, detailed photographs of jewellery from various private collections, including Venet's. Many of the pieces resemble miniature versions of the artists' most famous paintings or sculptures rendered in precious metal, and they were clearly made for commercial rather than purely artistic reasons. (One exception is a pendant by Nam June Paik, created by attaching a circuit board to a chain. Curiously, the book states that this is an untitled work from 1980, while the exhibition labels it as Sense Amplifier Inhibit Driver from 2012.)

H Clifford Smith wrote Jewellery, the first comprehensive history of the subject, in 1908. A History Of Jewellery 1100-1870 (Joan Evans, 1953) is another standard work. Modern Jewellery: An International Survey 1890-1963 (Graham Hughes, 1963) was the first guide to modern jewellery. 7,000 Years Of Jewellery (Hugh Tait, 1986) is the most comprehensive international history of jewellery.