Christmas gifts are meant to surprise.  The value lies so much more in the thought behind the gift.  So – after years of wearing only silver jewellery, my Christmas surprise, casually laid out on a Persian blanket, a little paper wrapped gift, with gold jewellery… the warm reflections it gives are part of the meaning of gold…wisdom, knowledge, splendor, holiness…. And has been used by artists through all of history

to explore its essence in fine art and jewellery.

Did they really exist?  No one really knows. Did they come from Persia?

Or Mesopotamia ? Were they astronomers? Or truly Melchior, the King of  Persia;  Balthazar, the King of Arabia;  and Caspar, the King of India? The three Kings of the Orient  bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh travelled across mountains and fields following a star that  took them to the newborn King in Bethlehem.

A scene celebrated in art and music since the beginning  –

here,The Nativity by Gentile da Fabriano, 1423.

 

 

 

Giancarlo Montebello is a Milanese and I like to think this mask he worked on with Man Ray in 1974 tells much about him – his attention to detail, his ability to observe with discretion – he once said that Man Ray taught him a valuable lesson,

“Il m’apprend la simplicité des choses” and here,  the elegance of gold as an object of simplicity. The “Optic-Topic” gold mask is gold plated sterling silver and has hundreds of tiny holes drilled forming a spiral the eyes can see through.

 

 

Lucio Fontana’s work always crossed between the question

of three and two dimensions.  Both a sculptor and a painter, here he worked in gold punctuating a flat plane that forces the eye to move through it. The surprising movement between dimensions is masterfully realized in this gold brooch,

“Concetto Spaziale”. Made in 1950, it also part of the Venet collection and was shown this year in the exhibition, “Picasso to Koons” at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami.

 

GEM was founded by Giancarlo Montebello in 1967, and until 1978 worked with  more than 50 artists doing limited edition jewels.  Among them Man Ray who worked with Montebello until the end of his life.  Here, “Le Trou” by Man Ray – 1970 –  made  in

an edition of 12, in gold and platinum, now in the Diane Venet collection.

 

While he enjoyed making  adornments, not many of Calder’s jewels have stones.

Here, this brass and crystal glass ring is another of his masterpieces.

Rarely do artists make jewels themselves, hammering and melting, forge and fire…

it requires a skill beyond the vision to realize the object. Ruhs is one of them.

Translating sculpture into jewels, each a unique combination of time and space and material only the artist can realize.  Here, a pendant forged in gold.

A friend of Dali and Cocteau and of many artists , this unusual sculptural piece,

a necklace collar of gold was fashioned by Elsa Schiaparelli in1937.

Her sense of the role of art in fashion, humor and function is striking in this piece.

 One of several items of apparel she explored as a surrealist artist.

 

In 1967, Giancarlo Montebello had the extraordinary vision to create GEM.
 Living in Milano, he invited a group of artists to contribute designs that he would then realize in gold and silver, platinum and jewels. The artistic language of the artists were  translated  by Montebello into the dimension of jewelry.
Himself a great jeweler –  an artist too –  he would collaborate with over 50 artists in his Milanese studio where he still works.
In 1978 he began to focus exclusively on his own designs and closed GEM.
Here, an image from his website.

Wearable sculpture is a passionate subject for me, and the only reason to wear a jewel.  It is an extension of the artist’s work and ideas and engages the heart, the mind, and the senses.  Jesus Raphael de Soto is one of my favorite kinetic artists.

These earrings, a pair from an unfinished series of 200 made in 1968, silver and silver gilt, were a collaboration with GEM, sadly few remain.

Posted on: Sunday, December 29th, 2013

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