Saturday, March 19, 2011

Van Cleef and Arpels- Set In Style at the Cooper Hewitt

"Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels, the most comprehensive exhibition ever organized of Van Cleef & Arpels’ masterworks, is divided into six themes which resonate through the history of the firm: Innovation, both stylistic and technical; Transformations; Nature as Inspiration; Exoticism; Fashion; and Personalities. This unprecedented assembly of 350 pieces from VC&A’s collection and international private collections, augmented by never-before-seen drawings from VC&A’s design archives and by related objects from Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s permanent collection, illustrates the firm’s celebrated history and places its contributions to design in a broader context." - from the Exhibition Site. 

Sycamore Leaf Brooch.  Paris, France, 1951. Collection of Van Cleef and Arpels.

The exhibit design is very well done. There are six sections or rooms of jewelry. The display and lighting is exceptional. Aside from the wide variety of objects the curators included several cases with job journals. Pages are open to sketches and imformation (like stone weights) of some of the pieces included in the exhibit.  I especially love looking at these.  They usually only show one front view. Having worked in a specialty work shop from designs, I believe that the usnsung heros are the skilled jewelers who extrapolate information and execute the designs. One book has been photographed and installed as an app which allows you to virtually turn pages (works like ipad). Through June 5, 2011.
Mystery-set Brooch. Ruby, Diamond, platinum and gold. Paris, France, 1936.
Typically when one thinks of Van Cleef and Arpels, Mystery setting comes to mind. Each stone has a groove cut in the sides and is then slid onto 'tracks'. The lapidary has to consider minute variations in geometry with each stone in order to make them sit perfectly side by side.

Volutes Minaudiere. Patented design. Black laquer and gold. Paris, France 1935
This Minaudiere is incredible. Notice the watch on the right that slides out to be viewed.

Egyptian Odalisque Evening Bag. Paris, France, 1927.
This bag shows the influence of the discovery of the pyramids in Egypt and the design motifs that influenced decorative arts of that decade.  

Radiator Clip/Pin.

Art Deco Radiator watch clip and pin combination. The design is adapted from the new fast cars of this period. The shutters move.





 Design for Camoratta Brooch. Van Cleef made a series of ballerina pins. This piece is after a painting. 











Late 1950's. Thai influenced design. Notice how basic the rendering is.

Earrings. Paris, France, 1951.

Japanese laquer butterfly form.

Bouquet Brooch. Paris, France, 1938. Private collection.
Beautiful and timeless Floral Brooch. I love the moonstone and ruby combination.

All images are from the exhibition site.