THROUGH the centuries people have worn jewelry to depict status, wealth and identity. Now there is another reason. Contemporary jewelry, the kind that is fought over by passionate collectors, focuses as much on intellectual inquiry and the telling of stories as it does on the exploration of materials and techniques.
Contemporary jewelry is wearable sculpture, and the wearability of a piece and the way it moves on the body are of critical importance to the artists who create it. This work is a product of head, heart and hand, with the head element uppermost. Pieces can be made of anything: found objects, recycled junk, textiles, plastic—even paper. If they include precious metals and gemstones, these rarely appear in conventional forms. Collectors are mainly professionals.
“Collect”, an international fair for contemporary objects, which opens in London later this month, will show a number of artists who explore concepts of preciousness, value and beauty by subverting traditional materials and techniques. Some are German, Swiss and British, as well as Dutch. Otto Künzli famously made a rubber bracelet concealing a gold ball inside. Karl Fritsch ground gemstones into powder and reassembled them with glue. He is now experimenting with drilling holes in the gems and knotting them together in varying configurations. Gijs Bakker, co-founder of Droog, a design company, combines gemstones with costume pieces. Ulrich Reithofer combines gold and glass shards in a necklace.
This is jewelry offering a very different expression of identity. The wearer of such pieces challenges preconceived notions. It can include a whiff of intellectual snobbery, as the wearer can be seen as “buying a bit of the artist’s brain”.
Some of them might not be wearable but only for expression of art purposes but some of them are and they are very unique and very much modern. Be adventurous and have them, besides, everything is a work of art depending on how art is to each individual.
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