From 6 – 18 May, our Art as Jewellery online sale presents works by some of the 20th century’s greatest artists. Here, we introduce 10 pieces set to transform their wearer into a walking artwork — and the artists who inspired or created them.
In the 1960s, Man Ray began to collaborate with Italian firm Gem Montebello, renowned for producing some of the most creative jewellery of the era. A sought-after fashion photographer, Man Ray incorporated his avant-garde jewellery into shoots with celebrities including Catherine Deneuve, who was pictured wearing his spiralling Pendantif-Pendant earrings in 1968. Inspiration came from across the artist’s portfolio, with designs echoing early Dada-era sketches and even his iconic 1919 lampshade.
Celebrated as the inventor of the mobile, Alexander Calder was also known for his striking jewellery designs — producing up to 2,500 wearable sculptures over the course of his career. Using the same wire-shaping techniques employed in his larger pieces, Calder created jewellery for friends including Joan Miró and Peggy Guggenheim, who once boasted, ‘I am the only woman in the world who wears his enormous mobile earrings.’
Measuring 5.4 cm in diameter, this gold medallion bears a portrait of Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife and last muse. Together for the last 20 years of the artist’s life, for 17 of those years she was the only woman he painted, and was depicted more than any other person across the course of Picasso’s career. When they met in 1952, the 70-year-old artist was struck by 27-year-old Roque’s resemblance to Delacroix’s Femmes d’Alger — a work that inspired Picasso’s series of the same title.
Featuring a bright yellow star, these gold cufflinks are signed by artist Peter Blake — renowned for his cover design for The Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Part of a series executed for Louisa Guinness Gallery in 2008, they are unique, and presented in their original box.
Made in 1974, this gold and glass bead necklace features three golden bats, their eyes inlaid with diamonds, moissanite and rubies. Jewellery was just one of the mediums Matta explored over the course of his career; known as one of the foremost artists of the Surrealist movement, the Chilean also produced paintings, videos and murals, populating his works with abstracted, living forms.
Made from white gold, this pendant allows wearers to become one with a miniature Castellani masterpiece. It features the surface undulations that characterise some of the Italian artist’s most prominent series, such as the studded canvases of Spazio Ambiente.
Emblazoned with a black bird with outstretched wings, this gold and enamel signet ring references one of Georges Braque’s most frequently visited symbols: the bird in flight. Described by the artist as the ‘summing up’ of all of his art, the subject recurred in works from the late 1940s through to Braque’s death in 1963 — the largest example painted across a ceiling in the Louvre.
‘My quest,’ Carmen Herrera states, ‘is for the simplest of pictorial resolutions.’ Produced in gold-plated matte silver, this pendant echoes the formal simplicity that is typical of the Cuban-American minimalist’s painted works. It was made in collaboration with Madrid-based jewellery designer Chus Burés, who has worked with artists including François Morellet, Julio Le Parc and Louise Bourgeois.
Inspired by an encounter with Alexander Calder’s mobiles in 1950, Pol Bury began to create his own form of kinetic art from 1953, abandoning painting to create sculptures that moved with captivating slowness. From the 1960s, the artist’s material of choice became highly polished, reflective metal — with demi-sphères, such as those featured on this ring, becoming a preferred motif.
Born in Paris in 1925, Claude Lalanne is best known as one half of artistic duo Les Lalanne, having worked with her husband François-Xavier to produce sculptural commissions for clients including Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, and the city of Paris. Animals and vegetation were recurrent subjects, with delicate gilded butterflies appearing across later jewelled works by Claude.