You’ll no doubt recognize the names of the artists, but the medium they used to make these creations will be unfamiliar to most in this special online auction and public exhibition from Sotheby’s.
Entitled “Art as Jewelry as Art”, this sale will feature jewelry and accessories by some of the most innovative artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, Claude Lalanne, George Braque, Lucio Fontana, Pol Bury, Kiki Smith, Salvador Dalí, Harry Bertoia, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst and Jesús Rafael Soto.
The online auction will run from September 24 to October 4. Pieces from the sale will be on display for the same 11-day period at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York. This is the auction house’s first sale of jewelry by modern contemporary artists.
“This selection of artists’ jewelery aims to reintroduce these works to the discerning collector in a new context, and as a category of art defined for a collection that is not only intended for adornment, but also as a means of d ‘personal expression,’ says jewelry artist Tiffany Dubin, who runs the sale. “These works were not made to be stored in a drawer, a vanity or a safe; they were meant to be celebrated on the body in a dynamic and interactive way. How we define ourselves and the art we connect with is integral to who we are and is what ultimately defines us as creative beings.
The sale is presented in nine chapters, exploring such gems as kinetic, abstract expressionism, sculpture, surrealism, avant-garde, non-conformist, minimalism, modernism and visionaries.
Auction highlights include:
Alexander Calder’s Lady Kenneth Clark tiara on the 20the American artist of the century best known for his kinetic mobiles and monumental sculptures. This piece, which features her signature spiral design, has appeared in various retrospectives and jewelry exhibitions at leading art and design institutions such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. One of eight Calder pieces in the sale, its estimate is $200,000 to $300,000.
An early group of ‘School of Rome’ abstract expressionist works are on offer, including a circa 1965 gold link bracelet for Roman jeweler Mario Masenza by Franco Cannilla. His estimate is $18,000 to $25,000. A similar example was included in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s 2021 exhibition titled “Simply Brilliant Artist-Jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s”.
A “Compression” pendant signed by the French sculptor César Baldaccini presents his radical technique of compacting various objects to produce his totemic sculptures. His estimate is $40,000 to $60,000.
A pair of 18k earrings designed by Salvador Dalí in 1949, titled “Persistence of Sound”, resembles two melting telephone receivers, much like his famous painting depicts melting clocks. His estimate is $150,000 to $200,000.
Two gold pendants designed by Max Ernst, both auctioned for the first time and offered by the artist’s family, including his Horned Head – one of the artist’s most recognizable objects and part of his collaboration with the famous silversmith François Hugo in the late 1950s. Its estimate is $20,000 to $30,000.
A “double barrel” ring in gold, diamonds and onyx designed by Ettore Sottsass (dubbed “the godfather of Italian cool” by The Guardian newspaper) for Cleto Munari. His estimate is $30,000 to $40,000.
A bracelet by minimalist artist Lucio Fontana, titled, Ellise con Fori ‘Concetto Spaziale (“Spatial concept of ellipse with holes”). His estimate is $80,000 to $100,000.
Modernist jewelry in this sale features pieces by Andrew Grima, Alan Gard, Charles de Temple and Jean Vendome, including the Echo-style diamond, rutilated quartz and necklace and earrings set. 18 carat gold ears from Vendome. His estimate is $35,000 to $45,000.
Some of these visionary miniature works of art were created for this sale, such as those by Luna Benaï and Metagolden. Benai’s handmade wooden jewelry box, shaped like a rhombicuboctahedron, incorporates traditional Amazigh symbols and Metagolden’s “Ethereum Expedition” gold and emerald ring resembles a geodesic dome. This last piece includes an NFT “digital twin”. His estimate is $7,000 to $10,000.