See the Extravagant Baubles of "Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler" at MAD

Manyartists have dabbled in jewelry design to create one-of-a-kind symbols of love forthe women in their lives. Alexander Calder made pieces for his daughter. PabloPicasso gave brooches, rings, and carved amulets for his lovers Dora Maar andMarie-Thérèse Walter in the 1930s. Over the course of six years, curator DianeVenet gathered 187 such pieces by 124 artists for the Museum of Arts and Designexhibition "Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler," on view now through January 8.

"[The jewelry]is an intimate relationship between themselves as human beings, themselves asartists, themselves with their daughters, or the women in their lives, so it'san intimate story of their own story," Venet told ARTINFO.

 

Venet's ownobsession with collecting jewelry is more than two decades old. "It started when my husband [sculptor Bernar Venet] twisted abar of silver around my finger 25 years ago as an engagement ring. Then it wenton, exchanging with friends and artists," said Venet. Three piecesBernar gave Diane are in the show, including a pendant titled "RandomCombination of Indeterminate Lines."

About 65 percent of "Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler" is from Venet's personal collection; the remaining 35percent was loaned to the museum by dealers, artists, or collectors. Many of thetrinkets are reminiscent of the artworks that made their designers famous. They include a 2004 Damien Hirst silver pill charm bracelet; a Louise Bourgeoisnecklace shaped from two thick silver bars and a sting of crystals hanging downthe center; an 18-carat gold ring version of Robert Indiana's "LOVE" sculpture; a silver pendant in the shape of Jeff Koons's signature "Rabbit"for Stella McCartney; and a Salvador Dalí gold brooch in the shape ofa mouth with ruby lips and cultured pearl teeth. Pieces by Jean Cocteau, RoyLichtenstein, Man Ray, Sam Taylor-Wood, Nam June Paik, Georges Braque, Romain Opalka, and more are also featured in the exhibition.   

While it was interesting to see how artists conceptualized their aesthetic in accessoryform, the exhibition left us wondering about the back stories behind thepieces. Did Dalí create the brooch as a token of affection for his wife Gala, or one of his many lovers?

To see highlights of "From Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler," click the slideshow to the left.