Art as Jewelry as Art
Online Auction: 23 September–6 October 2022 • 12:00 PM EDT • New York

Art as Jewelry as Art 23 September–6 October 2022 • 12:00 PM EDT • New York

C ollectors hoping to own (and wear) a rare piece by a master artist will have their chance Sotheby’s first auction devoted solely to artist- made jewelry. This sale features works from 65 artists. Among them are prominent twentieth-century painters and sculptors, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Alexander Calder, and Louise Bourgeois. Many of these scarce pieces of artist jewelry have come from private collections and estates. A number were previously exhibited internationally at museums and galleries, a testimony to their artistic significance that also enhances their provenance.

Jewelry as ... Kinetic

KINETIC means ‘relating to or resulting from motion’ and comes from the Greek word for movement. Artists have incorporated motion into their work since the early 20th century, and Kineticism was an important art movement in the late 1950s and 1960s. Some experimented with geometric shapes, creating works that were static and yet gave the viewer an impression of movement. Kinetic jewelry functions in much the same way: while maintaining a constant linear relationship to the wearer’s body, it reacts to their movement in a three-dimensional space.

Jewelry as ... Abstract Expressionism

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM. In Italy, the roots of this art movement are found in the School of Rome, a group of artists active from the 1930s to the 1950s. Mario Masenza, an avid collector with a passion for their art, was the third generation of renowned Roman jewelers who supplied the Italian royal family. In 1948, he began approaching contemporary artists with an offer to work with his goldsmiths to create jewelry. Over a period of thirty- odd years, Masenza collaborated with more than thirty artists, including Franco Cannilla and Afro Libio Basaldella, and is credited with breathing fresh life into goldsmithing in post-war Italy.

Jewelry as ... Sculpture

SCULPTURE. Sculptors are accustomed to working in three dimensions, exploring space in tangible works that appeal to both the visual and tactile senses. They are thus especially adept at designing wearable works of art. Many have readily embraced jewelry-making as an extension of their artistic practice, bringing to the medium a fresh approach to traditional materials and techniques to create more intimate and often strikingly new versions.

Jewelry as ... Surrealism

One of the most extravagant movements to emerge in art, literature, fashion and jewelry in the 20th century, it still lives with us today. Making connections between the ‘everyday and the exceptional’ was the manifesto. The first generation emerged in Paris in the 1920s, focusing on the spoken and written word. Metaphor and the meaning of fashion was the basis of their language. By the 1930s Surrealism had transformed into an artistic style. Dream-like scenes, symbolic images, and illogical juxtapositions were the perfect way to contrast the real and the unreal to produce dream consumer products. Fashion photography, the aestheticization of fashion designs provided an opportunity for the Surrealists to give literal expression to the body through the mediums of fashion and jewelry.

Jewelry as ... Avant-Garde

AVANT-GARDE. Considered a hallmark of modernism, the avant-garde pushes the boundaries of the acceptable, challenges norms, and stands in opposition to high or mainstream culture. In music, theater, painting, and every other medium, the avant-garde has boldly driven the arts in new directions. Jewelry is no exception: Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and other audacious innovators like them have created provocative pieces of wearable art that shatter traditional notions of jewelry by experimenting with new materials and techniques.

Jewelry as ... Maverick

MAVERICK. The term ‘maverick’ refers to an individual that acts independently of a tradition. Many mischievous and daring artists have ventured into new territory and adopted new approaches. Each is a maverick in his or her own way, and each is committed to having their work seen in new ways. Although there are many such pioneers, we have chosen several fiercely independent individuals who broke out of the mold in creating jewelry as art and demonstrated a maverick style of artistic expression.

Jewelry as ... Minimalism

MINIMALISM was one of the most influential art movements in New York in the 1960s. It emerged among a number of young artists moving away from abstract expressionism who began favoring a sleeker, geometric aesthetic. Influenced by movements such as the German Bauhaus, Russian Constructivism, and Dutch De Stijl, they aimed to attain the pure object in terms of functionality or aesthetics – or better yet, both - and to create art that referred only to itself, allowing the viewer an immediate visual response. Personal gestural elements, decorations, and embellishments were stripped away. The minimalist artist creates a work of art-to-wear by ensuring that the different elements, colors, and textures are organized in the most beneficial way; that the size; the length; the texture is all correct; it all needs to be exact, along with perfection in execution.

Jewelry as ... Modernism

MODERNISM. Societal and social change often represents a rejection of the previous paradigm. In Modernism, sleeker designs were made in order to distance new creations from the heavy jewelry of the 1940s. It became a post-war movement, developing into a clean aesthetic with bold and geometric shapes and jewelry made in limited editions or unique pieces. There was an overall atmosphere of experimentation and a divergence from tradition. Across Britain, Europe, and America, artists used materials such as gold, silver and gems in novel asymmetrical ways, and gave prominence to underappreciated mediums like wood, plastic, and enamel.

Jewelry as ... Visionaries

VISIONARIES look beyond current trends and imagine what the future will be while defining and creating it. Visionaries devise original ways of using diverse materials to create powerful works that are inspired and highly personal. They explore novel ways for individuals to communicate their vision of the world to those around them and express their individuality through adornment and associated objects. Above all, these visionaries are infusing the craft of jewelry making with a passion and creativity that recognizes no boundaries. They see over the horizon and they forecast the future.

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