This weekend, Sotheby’s opens Art as Jewelry as Art, a unique online auction and exhibition in New York (September 24 – October 4, 2022) featuring jewelry designed by 65 major artists of the 20th century. From Georges Braque’s gold-plated, bird-like brooches inspired by Greek mythology, to Louise Nevelson’s sculptural pendants, to a pair of Salvador Dalí’s earrings in the shape of melting telephones — and filled with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies — the Pieces are jewelry and art at the same time.
“These works were not made to be tucked away in a drawer, vanity or safe,” said Tiffany Dubin, artist jewelry specialist and sales director of Art as Jewelry as Art, in a statement. “They should be celebrated on the body in a lively, interactive way.”
The auction, she added, “aims to reintroduce these works as a defined category of art.” Incidentally, some of the included works have been exhibited in institutions such as New York’s Cooper Hewitt Museum and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
“I see this sale evolving into a division called ‘Art to Wear,'” Dubin told Artnet News. She is planning an American Modern auction focusing on studio jewelery for next year, as well as a haute couture catwalk jewelery auction for 2024.
“The works are miniature sculptures,” said Dubin. “Obtaining one of these allows the buyer to experience an intimate relationship with the piece itself, the artist who created it, and a direct connection to the art movement it reflects.”
Drawing from a range of private collections and estates, Art as Jewelry as Art is presented in nine chapters focusing on different art forms (such as sculpture) and movements (kinetics, abstract expressionism, minimalism).
You’ll also find pieces specially commissioned for sale by contemporary practitioners, including a rhombicuboctahedron-shaped jewelry box carved out of wood by Katia Luna Benaï with traditional Amazigh symbols, and an 18-karat gold kissing angel pendant that was sculpted by Tom Otterness. Meanwhile, Francine Ballard, the founder of Web3 trading hub Metagolden, has created a gold and emerald theme Ring resembling a geodesic dome to be sold with a “digital twin” NFT.
“The works here represent historical moments of creative expression from Calder’s kinetic genius in the 1930s and 1940s through to the visionaries of today who use their art to create what I consider heirlooms not only of today but of tomorrow,” said Dublin.
The auction, which is currently in a digital-only preview, will open for online bidding on September 23, with the jewelery also available for public viewing at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries. Hammer prices are estimated to range from under $1,000 up to $300,000. The highest estimate is for a 1942 silver and fabric necklace by Calder; A similar piece was included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2008–2009 exhibition “Calder Jewelry”.
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