There’s catwalk fashion in all its multi-coloured and sequined glory. Then there’s art world fashion that marks its wearer out as serious, intellectual even, and a contemporary art world insider. For the latter, go to cutting edge private views in origami-fashion only in black from Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo or Zoran, and wear one big piece of statement jewellery which is in itself a wonderful art thing, not a piece of bling. For instant major art world insider conceptual cred, however, hotfoot it to Sculptors’ Jewellery, an exhibition on right now, to buy a mini sculpture to hang round your neck, your wrist or dangling from your ears.
Yves Klein, Petite Venus Bleu, 1960
Alexander Calder, Comb, 1940
Sculptors’ Jewellery is a unique selling exhibition of three-dimensional pieces small enough to be wearable yet possessing the impact of full-size, non site-specific sculpture. It’s a pretty new category, although the Pangolin Gallery, which organised this extremely original show, did point out that there are precedents for jewellery designed by artists stretching back to Hans Holbein the Younger who designed wearable art pieces for the Tudor Court. You can see some of them in his portraits.
Hans Arp, Profil Brooch and Pendant, 1960
Fernand Léger, Ceramic Brooch and Pendant, 1951
The show includes work from some old sculptural favourites, and features a line-up of stars of 20th Century Modern art: Picasso’s earthy ceramic pendant, Leger’s brilliantly coloured ceramic brooch and pendant, Hans Arp’s coolly contemporary sterling silver and pebble, Alexander Calder’s wonderful bronze comb and Dali’s Le Roi Soleil necklace. There are, too, works by Post-War stars such as Yves Klein, whose Petite Venus Bleu brooch certainly makes a statement, and Claude Lalanne who sculpted a gilt bronze mistletoe necklace.
Pablo Picasso, Ceramic Brooch Pendant, 1954
Claude Lalanne, Gui Necklace, 1980s
In addition there are over 30 specially commissioned new works from leading contemporary artists of our day such as Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor (I really loved his inverted mirror disc ring and his winter cufflinks and winter earrings) and Conrad Shawcross’s intricate seven-day bracelet (see main image at top).
Anish Kapoor, Disc Ring, 2012
So perhaps it's time to leave the big diamonds to Mrs. Oligarch and co. and convincingly cruise the contemporary art scene in your own piece of art. It’s a very good look and one that will mark you out as a serious art person or even a major collector, whilst strolling the aisles of Art Basel, bobbing around in a gondola at the Venice Biennale or sipping Champagne at a major Tate private view.