I n a vignette from Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film ‘Dreams’, an art student is so transfixed by the works of Vincent van Gogh that he steps out of three-dimensional reality and literally walks into the Dutch master’s post-Impressionist canvases. Certain artists can have that effect on us; we lose ourselves in these landscapes of the mind.
White clouds set against an open expanse of blue, Rene Magritte’s famous skies present an uncanny perfection that could only exist in dreams. David Hockney’s swimming pools are snapshots of picture-perfect oases under the California sunshine. From lush vistas and shimmering sunlit seas to ancient cities, our minds return to these images as the coming months carry the promise of a warm breeze and endless days. After seasons of chilly weather that have kept many of us confined for an extended period, some may at last realise our recurring daydreams of exploring far-flung paradises.
We asked Sotheby’s specialists to select the paintings to which they would most like to be transported for the summer. Their responses were far from the typical holiday locale. Read more about what they chose for their fine art escapes as well as the stylish jewels that channel the spirt of these places.
The Heart of Polyphony
Polly Chow, Senior Specialist, Jewellery:
The experience is akin to meeting the man of your dreams; your heart skips a beat and you become lightheaded and dizzy. That was how I felt when I first saw Wassily Kandinsky’s masterpiece inside the Guggenheim Museum. He is my absolute favourite artist, the painter of sound and vision. Composition 8 (1923), one of Kandinsky’s important works is my favourite. In the canvas I see large concert hall with an orchestra in the centre. Amidst the ensemble, the conductor directs the music full of creative frictions and flair. The different instruments electrify the music hall, intertwining with high and low, strong and soft notes.
Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstraction, created art that communicated a universal sense of spirituality. He innovated a pictorial language that only loosely related to the outside world but expressed volumes about the artist's inner experience. Believing that “colour is the keyboard”, he heard tones and chords as he painted. Kandinsky theorised that yellow is the colour of middle C on a brassy trumpet; black and white are silent colours, with black specifically as the colour of closure, and the end of things; The combinations of colours produce vibrational frequencies, akin to chords played on a piano. Kandinsky’s paintings appeal not only to the eyes, but also to the ears. I can almost hear the beautiful melody that is coming from his work.
The colours on the canvas are so vivacious, only the brightest of gems can match the dynamics in the painting. I would take all the vibrant coloured gemstones with me from our July Luxury Edit sale into Kandinsky’s Composition 8 and the whimsical elements in his compositions. The 10.01 carats Winza untreated vivid red ruby Tanzanian and diamond ring, the 20.43 carats emerald and diamond ring, and the 48.19 carats sapphire and diamond ring will adorn my fingers, and the pair of heart shaped Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond earrings each of 3 carats will frame my face. They represent the primary colours and the joyful notes that will match with the lively colours in his painting.
Uncovering a Vast World of Small Delights
Uni Kim, Specialist, Jewellery:
I have always loved surrealism, with its elements of surprise born out of a heart in rebellion. Despite its depictions of supernatural sceneries, there are also familiar elements that draws us near to explore more of the subconscious as we inevitably try to relate ourselves. If I were to choose an artwork that I could travel into to spend my holiday, it would be The Little Theater by Salvador Dali. I vividly remember when I first saw the piece at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The work appeared to a tiny window, and when I peeked into the small opening I was amazed to find so many details to the piece, including a tiny red shoe, hung from an elongated spoon. Using eleven parallel painted-glass panels, the illuminated diorama contains a fascinating illusion; it would be a delight to explore the world fully if I could shrink into the proportionate size of the figures in this theatre.
For this trip I would wear a jewel that has emeralds, as emeralds were traditionally seen as gemstones that offered protection to travellers. I love the story of Jacques Herbin carrying an emerald in his pocket as a good luck charm on his seafaring voyages. Perhaps the Chopard emerald and diamond parure would be perfect for this surreal holiday, with a collection of the most heart-shaped emeralds that I have ever seen on a set altogether.
Transforming the Everyday to the Extraordinary
Regine Ngan, Head of Department, Jewellery:
Traveling to Rene Magritte’s works would be a treat for the imagination. A surrealist pioneer and singular modern artist, his works keep the viewer questioning the boundaries between philosophical values and dreamscapes. Magritte is a master in teasing the world of what is visible that is also hidden. In the painting Personal Values, created in 1952, Magritte amplified ordinary objects to an extraordinary scale. Instead of creating an image of fantasy, he brings us to a sense of disorientation. The room is painted very realistically with furniture to scale under a consistent earth tone. However, our sense of proportion is shaken by the huge comb, makeup brush, the blue wine glass, and pink matchstick – all of which are out of place. The rigidness of the small room is decorated by his iconic blue-sky wallpaper. The reflection of the mirror offers a glimpse of a window, presenting the possibility of fresh air and almost suggesting an escape of this state of mind. The values of these objects are represented through the dominance they hold in a person’s life.
To step into this room, I would bring along a jadeite bead necklace, seated as high as the comb collecting bead by bead that were placed inside the wine glass, I would string it into a necklace. Jadeite beads are polished to a perfect round shape, unfaceted, the beauty of it takes time to understand. It is extraordinary in an ordinary form.