In my rather itinerant life, my collection of jewelry has become an intimate museum that I can take with me everywhere, and the treasure trove that always greets me upon my return home.
It is Jewelry, but, in my eyes, mainly Art.
And here I am proposing a different narrative about jewelry, one that is far from the shiny pages of glossy magazines. It is the story of various distinguished artists, male and female, who became interested in this adventure, inspired by love for a woman, by the challenge, or simply out of interest in this particular medium of expression.
My passion for artists jewelry was born on the day my sculptor husband, Bernar Venet, amused himself by rolling a thin stick of silver around my left ring finger to make me a wedding ring! This first gesture, so moving in its spontaneity, had a far-reaching impact on me. It allowed me to discover the scarcely-known universe of such unique and precious works of art. Precious because of their rarity, but also for the symbolic content that is often at the origin of their creation.
A piece may be created as unique or as an edition of several examples (usually between 8 and 12), but it has often been fashioned with a particular person in mind. Picasso collected pebbles on the beach and then painted them as jewels for Dora Maar. He engraved the portrait of Marie Thérèse on pieces of bones. Giacometti made buttons for his friend Elsa Schiaparelli and then transformed them into brooches for his close friends. Frank Stella, out of friendship, first gave me an unique titanium necklace before accepting to work on a small edition of a spectacular gold rings. Germana Matta told me how Roberto carefully arranged a piece of jewelry himself, around her neck
These anecdotes show the specificity of these objects that combine both a personal history and the history of art. The examples are many, and these miniature works of art also give the artist the opportunity to test their practical ability confronting unprecedented constraints.
Today, after 25 years of research and collecting, I have about 130 mini works of art that can be worn on the wrist, the neck, or the finger. When I select one of them from my collection for a special occasion, I am always extremely sensitive to its closeness to me, to its intimate relation with art. I may roll a Takis around my wrist, or see myself reflected in a Kapoor around my neck; by wearing them, I offer them to be viewed by other people and there is a pleasure in becoming, in a way, a torch bearer.
I now often meet women and men, collectors or dealers, who share my interest in jewelry designed by artists. We would track a rare piece from country to country! In London, a wealth of knowledge in the husband and wife team of Martine and Didier Haspeslagh at Didier Antiques, and the passion for new collaborations that can be found with Elisabetta Cipriani and Louisa Guinness at their eponymous galleries; in Milan, the precious help and advice of GianCarlo Montebello who worked intimately with so many great artists: Man Ray, Fontana, Arnaldo and Gio Pomodoro, Niki de Saint Phalle, among others; in Verona, Marina Ruggieri; or, in Paris, Esther de Beaucé from miniMasterpiece who now works closely with contemporary artists on small editions: Arman, Rebecca Horn, Jannis Kounellis, Pol Bury, François Morellet and Lee Ufan, just to name a few! Of course I could not forget the very famous and beautiful Grassy establishment in Madrid, who have produced unique works with Antony Caro and editions with Blanca Muñoz.
The story of the collection presented at IVAM
is the result of my friendship with many artists.