News / USA

Picasso, Other Greats Created 'Wearable Art'

New York Museum showcases jewelry made by renowned artists

A pendant by Pablo Picasso, who often created jewelry for his lovers.
A pendant by Pablo Picasso, who often created jewelry for his lovers.

Multimedia

Audio

Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Robert Rauschenberg left behind works of art which are instantly recognizable: Picasso, whose portraits of his lovers merge profile and full face in a disjointed style; Calder with his giant mobiles; and Rauschenberg, famous in the West, with his huge combines made of every day materials and trash.

But few people know these artists also made jewelry. A New York museum has gathered rarely-seen jewels created by Picasso, Calder and many other famous artists.

Of the 200 pendants, brooches and rings at the Museum of Arts and Design, 130 were collected by Diane Venet, a French woman and former journalist.

She didn’t start out thinking she’d collect jewelry by famous artists. But early in life, she fell in love with Bernar Venet, a French sculptor.  

“I met my husband 26 years ago,” she says, “and not very long after, he twisted a piece of silver around my finger as a kind of engagement ring. This is the first piece of artist jewelry I had actually.”

American artist Frank Stella gave this necklace to Diane Venet, who guest curated the jewelry show in New York.
American artist Frank Stella gave this necklace to Diane Venet, who guest curated the jewelry show in New York.

Most of Bernar Venet’s friends were artists who exchanged pieces with him. Soon, his wife had jewelry made by artists better known for their larger works, such as the French sculptor Cesar. His trademark was creating huge metal sculptures of crushed cars.

“The germ was within me and I couldn’t help it,” she says. “I went on and on.”

Venet curated the show, “Picasso to Koons: Artist as Jeweler,” which focuses on artists not primarily known for making jewelry.

“The Museum of Arts and Design considers that jewelry is one of the most important art forms in contemporary life. And it cuts across many cultures and gender and race and creed,” says Holly Hotchner, director of the museum. “The idea is not to take a sculpture and then miniaturize it. The idea is to come up with a concept that really relates to the body.”

Picasso, with his Grand Faune pendant, did just that, says Venet about the piece she owns. A faun, in Roman mythology, is half man, half animal, a forest god. Picasso used this fantasized animal in many drawings. His Grand Faune pendant is one of eight Picasso jewels in this exhibit.

A Calder necklace, with his trademark circles. The artist often gifted jewelry pieces to his hostess at dinner parties.
A Calder necklace, with his trademark circles. The artist often gifted jewelry pieces to his hostess at dinner parties.

Venet believes Picasso’s jewelry shows the artist’s softer side. “I think it’s very special because it’s very personal. Picasso did it because he was in love with Marie Therese Walter, and he gave her a piece. And he was in love with Dora Maar and he did a piece for her. It was a love story, most of the time.”

Calder, the American artist known for his mobiles and wire sculptures, also dabbled in jewelry. A Calder necklace, with his trademark circles, is in the show.

“You would invite Calder for dinner,” says Venet, “and he would come with a piece for a present because he was making them in his studio.”

Sculptor Alberto Giacometti, famous for his ghostly human statues, is represented in the show by two pieces.

As the story goes, he agreed to make buttons for the early 20th century fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

“They were large, three inches ((8 centimeters)) wide, and in bronze," says Venet. "They were much too heavy. So she sent them back to him. He mounted them into brooches and gave them to friends.”

Although Venet never met Giacometti, Picasso or Calder, she did know a number of famous artists including Frank Stella, who she calls a friend. He gave her a necklace of painted gold on titanium.

Platinum bunny on a chain by American artist Jeff Koons
Platinum bunny on a chain by American artist Jeff Koons

The exhibit takes visitors through the contemporary period with a tiny platinum bunny on a chain by Jeff Koons, the American artist known for gargantuan sculptures, like the 13-meter high flower-covered puppy that dominated New York’s Rockefeller Center 10 years ago. His style is sometimes called post-pop.

A human-size inflated bunny made of steel was the model for his pendant. Museum director Hotchner says Koons is comfortable working in small scale.  

“He certainly has made, and it’s sort of part of his ethic and part of the way he approaches making, that he has made work that is small in scale, enormous in scale,” she says. “So it’s something he would be very comfortable with.”

She points out that not all artists are comfortable making art for the body. Some refused to create jewelry for Venet. Nevertheless, as the exhibit demonstrates, even a tiny piece can be a great work of art.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid