Jewelry Avant-Garde. Sources. Parallels
19 March, 2002 - 28 July, 2002
What is avant-garde in jewelry? One finds it difficult to give an exact
definition for the style of one's epoch. Picture becomes clearer as time
goes on. In the opinion of the American critic Clement Greenberg, who
introduced the word in the 1930s, avant-garde defies mass culture and
commonplace taste which is called kitsch.
The exhibition "Jewelry Avant-Garde. Sources. Parallels" includes
one hundred twenty works of Western and Russian masters. Foreign artists'
works, loaned by the Jewelry Museum in Pforzheim, Germany, cover the period
from the 1960s to the 1990s. Works of Russian jewelers date from recent
years. Such a selection gives a picture of what has been done in this
art both in the West and in Russia. The exhibition shows works of the
famous Italian artists Mario Pinton and Bruno Martinazzi influenced by
the art of classical antiquity, while the works of Giampaolo Babetto have
affinity with the Renaissance traditions. Equally famous are the German
jewelers Reinhold Reiling who was one of the first in the 1960s to initiate
the new genre of this art and Claus Bury whose use of such an unlikely
material as acryl made a real sensation in the 1970s. Designer Emmy van
Leersum from the Netherlands also became one of the first in the avant-garde.
The names of Wendy Ramshaw and David Watkins who abandoned the traditional
idea of jewelry went down in the history of jewelry. Works of the famous
Czech master Anton Cepka with their exquisite design and polished detail
are original and recognizable. Hermann Juenger, P. Skubitz, G. Rotmann,
Ebbe Weiss-Weingart, Othmar Zschaler, Friedrich Becker and Manfred Bischoff
are major masters who made their contribution to the "new art of
jewelry". Novel things started to appear in the late 1950s. Very
often they are simple artifacts influenced by modern styles such as abstract
art, tachism, pop art, op art, etc. To express their ideas, artists used
such inexpensive materials as plastic, rubber, fabric, paper and various
metals, in protest against the luxury of brilliants and gold.
The exhibition shows works of 25 Russian jewelers. Almost all of them
are high class professionals, recognized and respected, participants of
prestigious shows, winners of competitions. While they have the traditional
jeweler's skills, Russian artists experiment with new techniques and materials.
The exhibition introduces many varieties of the art. The massive colorful
works of Natalya and Aleksey Petrov and Tatiana Baltro show a play of
color patches, volumes and textures of materials rarely used in jewelry.
The original etui toys of Mila Kalnitskaya have a delicate and clear-cut
design. The art of Natalya Bykova who makes each element expressive is
quite different. Gennady Bykov (Bionic and Nymphusorium)
and Igor Malkiel (Mechanical Cocoon and Metallogorgi) take
up "biological" subjects. A number of exhibits represent constructivism,
one of the most robust styles in the modern jewelry design. Construction
is denuded and made artistic form itself in the works of Felix Kuznetsov,
Oleg and Lyubov Narizhny, Arkady Kalnitsky and Victor Votsky.
Avant-garde artists do not cut their ties with the past. Avant-garde has
its characteristic symbolism in common with the primitive art, thoroughly
symbolic and cipher-like. Each image in the ancient artist's work has
its inner meaning. Expressive minimalism of archaic artifacts attracted
artists of the 20th century. Ancient artists could perfectly create forms.
Some objects of primitive art are showed in the exhibition, to suggest
to the visitor the secret of incomprehensible simplicity and spirituality
of the works of ancient art in comparison with the modern achievement.
Aleksey and Natalya Petrov
Pendant on a hip Automn-2001
Serpovsky Burial, Tambov Province