Artists’ jewelry? The creations in this realm are indeed solely the handiwork of artists, painters or sculptors.
A piece of “artist’s jewelry,” like a painting or a sculpture, is a work of art. Springing from the same creative approach, it possesses the same force, poetry and ability to provoke, sometimes even the same humor. It is only their ultimate purpose that distinguishes one from the other.
The value of a piece of artist’s jewelry cannot be measured in carats. It is not judged by its hallmark, sparkle or transparency. And whatever the period it belongs to, a piece of jewelry created by a painter or sculptor testifies to a renewed approach to art, one that is perhaps more playful yet no less rigorous.
From Picasso to Kapoor, Indiana to Koons, Braque to Liechtenstein, Vasarely to Stella, Arman to Rauschenberg and Cesar to Dali, the collection I have put together boasts nearly 200 pieces, tiny precious works of art that question the meaning and function of jewelry.
These creations are always the result of an encounter, whether with the artists themselves or with other collectors. Both groups have encouraged me. They have given me no small amount of support in my discovery of this new world where art, seemingly at play, surpasses itself.
By exhibiting these works, first in Roubaix, then in New York, Athens, Valencia, Miami, Seoul, Venice and soon in Paris (2017), and in the future in other major cities around the world, I hope to create the right conditions for further encounters and further wonders.
Born in Paris, Diane Venet was steeped in the art world from an early age. Her family were avid collectors, and her father Jacques Segard was for several years the President of the Friends of the Musée national d’Art Moderne in Paris.
From 1967 to 1976, she worked as a radio and television journalist, and co-hosted the successful weekly culture program Samedi Soir, broadcast on France 2. Married to a French diplomat with whom she lived in Japan and Morocco, and with whom she had two daughters who are both in the jewelry field today (Esther, who founded Galerie MiniMasterpiece, and Bérénice, Press and PR Manager at Boucheron in Paris), Venet then established herself in New York in the 80s with her husband, sculptor Bernar Venet, where she assisted him in organizing exhibitions throughout the world.
A passionate collector of art, as well as jewelry pieces by artists, Venet was also able to solicit the loan – and in some cases, the creation – of pieces from some of the twentieth century’s most prominent sculptors in order to curate the highly-acclaimed Bijoux Sculptures at Musée La Piscine de Roubaix, in the north of France, in the spring of 2008. The exhibition included 170 pieces by 75 artists, culled by 35 private collections, accompanied by a book, released by Gallimard, for which Venet and several art critics wrote introductions. The show welcomed more than 30,000 visitors, and received unequivocally positive reviews in major publications both in France and Europe.
The success in Roubaix led to expanded iterations of the exhibition – thereafter entitled From Picasso to Koons: Artist as Jeweler – installed at the Museum of Arts and Design, in New York in 2011, at the Benaki Museum in Athens in 2012, followed closely by Valencia’s IVAM, Miami’s Bass Museum, and most recently, the Hangaram Design Museum in the South Korean capital, at the Seoul Art Center and, in 2015, at the Palazzo Nani Mocenigo in Venice. A larger tome on the subject of artist jewelry was published by Skira Flammarion in 2011, and, with rich texts by noted art critics Barbara Rose and Adrien Goetz, offers an even more comprehensive view on the expanded selection included in the exhibition. The traveling show is set to tour China before coming to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in autumn 2017.