Spotlight on Art Jewelry Exhibitions Currently on View

Bella Neyman
May 28, 2014 11:04PM

Traditionally art jewelry lovers convene every March in Munich for Schmuck, the largest exhibition of contemporary art jewelry in the world. In addition to the main event there are normally over fifty smaller jewelry exhibitions going on concurrently. However earlier this May, New York was the place to be for art jewelry enthusiasts.

Steve Learner's Collective.2 Design Fair brought three of the country's top art jewelry galleries- Gallery Loupe of Montclair, NJ, Sienna Contemporary of Lenox, MA, and Ornamentum from Hudson, NY, to the Moynihan Station in midtown Manhattan. Didier Ltd. of London also exhibited art jewelry but his reach ends with the 1980's and they focus more on Modern Masters, artists and sculptors who made jewelry although it was not always their main focus versus the aforementioned contemporary art jewelry galleries who specialize in work of living artists who primarily make jewelry.

 The following week saw the opening of two major art jewelry exhibitions in two world-renowned museums, "Unique by Design: Contemporary Jewelry in the Donna Schneier Collection" (May 13- August 31, 2014) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and "Multiple Exposures: Jewelry and Photography" (May 14- September 13, 2014) at the Museum of Arts and Design.

 Donna Schneier's collection of contemporary art jewelry, a gift of approximately 130 pieces to the Met Museum with 80 on view, is a encyclopedic look at the field from the 1960's- when jewelry makers started to experiment with materials and techniques and began to question the role that jewelry plays within the arts- to the present and includes the work of established artists like Gijs Bakker, Thomas Gentille, William Harper, Mary Lee Hu, and Hermann Junger with some of today's most influential artists like Lola Brooks and Robert Baines. According to Jane Adlin, the exhibition's curator, "Donna’s Schneier’s approach to collecting jewelry has been based on documenting the central figures and works from this adventurous era. She began by collecting post-World War II international jewelry in the mid-1980s... and since then has continued to collect museum-quality works."  

"Multiple Exposures" at the Museum of Arts and Design is being billed as "the first museum exhibition to examine rich interplay between jewelry and photography" and looks at "how contemporary jewelry artists are using photography to explore issues central to contemporary experience, including changing views of beauty and the human body; social, political, and cultural issues; memory and desire; and the relationship of jewelry to society and personal identity." This excellent exhibition features 170 objects by 80 artists from 20 countries.

Finally while both of these exhibitions focus on the work of established artists, another art jewelry show takes the opposite approach and introduces the work of ten international artists- from seven different countries- who are either currently enrolled in or are recent graduates of degree programs in the United States. "F-1", on view at Brooklyn Metal Works through June 27, takes its name from the visa that is allocated to foreign students who wish to study in this country. Their work, from aesthetics to materials (wood, concrete, porcelain, paper, fabric), is as diverse as their backgrounds. These individuals’ work combines the methodologies taught in United States schools with cultural references and art traditions that they have brought from home. The exhibition is organized by Platforma, a newly established curatorial program started by Ruta Reifen and myself. If you are interested in seeing great work but new talent then this is the show for you.

Captions (top-bottom):

Helen Britton, "Boxes and Components" Necklace (2010) Gold plated silver, plastic polymer, and found objects, 20 in. (50.8 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Donna Schneier, 2013 (2013.602.5).

Bettina Speckner, "Untitled" Brooch (2004). Artist’s photograph enameled on silver, cowrie shells, amethysts. Courtesy of a private collection. Photo credit: Bettina Speckner, Museum of Arts and Design.

Yoshie Enda, Reflora, 2013, Bracelet, Hibiscus, Dandelion Root, Loofa, Resin, Silver, 3” x 3” x 1.4”, Photo courtesy of the artist and Platforma/ Brooklyn Metal Works.

For more information:

Collective.2 Design Fair,

 "Unique by Design: Contemporary Jewelry in the Donna Schneier Collection" (May 13- August 31, 2014), Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 "Multiple Exposures: Jewelry and Photography" (May 14- September 13, 2014), Museum of Arts and Design.

 "F-1, a Contemporary Art Jewelry Show" (May 3- June 27, 2014), Brooklyn Metal Works, 640 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY. 



Bella Neyman