Best picks Wednesday, December 19th 2012
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris is presenting five hundred Fine Jewellery creations, the work of Van Cleef & Arpels since 1906. The ethereal scenography of the exhibition pays perfect tribute to the creative genius of the brand.
Clip Chrysanthemum, Paris 1937. Gold, platinum, diamonds, Mystery Setting rubies. Van Cleef & Arpels collection © Patrick Gries / Van Cleef & Arpels
"Jewellery is made to tell a story of love, passion and power," declared Chief Executive Stanislas de Quercize to Beaux Arts Magazine when describing "Van Cleef & Arpels. L’art de la haute joaillerie" (The Art of Fine Jewellery) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. His company has indeed taken up residence in the Nave of the museum, situated in the west wing of the Louvre, to showcase five hundred of its creations. They depict a century of daring and creation by the legendary Place Vendôme jeweller, inventor of the "Mystery Setting" technique.
For Stanislas de Quercize, a jewel from the Van Cleef & Arpels workshops "is both inspired and inspiring. It evokes happiness, joy, magic, and poetry. It is also the perfect synthesis of the finest stones and brilliant craftsmanship; that of the famous Mains d'Or, the master jewellers of our workshops. Lastly, it is timeless and universal because it appeals to each individual, regardless of their language or country of origin". Needless to say, this universal quality has struck a chord with the celebrities of this world, from Marlene Dietrich to Elizabeth Taylor, as well as Grace Kelly, Maria Callas, Jackie Kennedy and Romy Schneider, to name just some of the brand's muses.
A journey into fine jewellery
To honour such an abundance of creativity, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs called upon scenographers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku. Their task, in the words of the museum's director Beatrice Salmon, was "to ensure that all the jewels are viewed in the most poetic manner possible, taking the midnight blue of the box as inspiration. We wanted this exhibition to be a journey for the audience, an experience". The result lives up to these aspirations. Huge petals, studded with twinkling stars, float inside the cathedral-like Nave of the museum. Beneath them, a forest of slender and transparent tubes reveal these jewels whose sparkle illuminates an exhibition conceived as an initiatory journey into jewellery creation.
The final word falls to Stanislas de Quercize: "This exhibition allows a wide audience to see and understand the true meaning of Fine Jewellery. Visitors can take a virtual tour of the workshops, using a digital system with gesture recognition. This technique allows the visitor to be the hand that directs the camera, and to capture every stage of creation from the designer to the polisher, not forgetting the model-maker, the jeweller and the stone-setter." After Tokyo, New York and Shanghai, Van Cleef & Arpels brings its unique magic to Paris. ■
"Van Cleef & Arpels. L’art de la haute joaillerie"
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
20 September 2012 - 10 February 2013