Some art collectors and dealers believe that paintings are money on walls. Investment in art, especially in as far as the auction scene is concerned, is virtually risk-free. Others will even go as far as to attesting that, “When you buy a piece of art, the worse that can happen is that you sell your art at the same price you bought it for.” Similarly, patrons of fine jewelry will insist that there is better investment in precious gems and metals. They will most likely argue that there is a greater sense of fulfilment in wearing exquisite acquisitions versus staring at art that hangs on a wall or sits on stand. There begins the debate: art or jewelry? Imagine if you could have both.
Collector and curator Louisa Guinness was one of the first to blur the lines between art and jewelry. Her patronage of art-designed accoutrements brought to light a very unique melding of these two worlds. She developed a fascination and passion for the very specific and rare genre that offered a more intimate insight into an artist’s design process. She explains, "Traditionally, jewels were designed to reflect and enhance the wearer’s beauty. Not so with artists’ jewellery. Instead, the artist’s jewel is full of symbolic content. It may have been created for an event, as a special gift, with a personal message, as a statement, or as an artwork in miniature – an object in and of itself... The jewel becomes a narrative of life; it is an extension of the artist’s wider body of work, of their sculpture or painting." Anecdotes accompanying wearable works of art were what drew Guinness to this genre. It also birthed several collaborations with some of the most celebrated modern artists today to include Anish Kapoor, Claude Lalanne, Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst and Alexander Calder.
In her journey towards advocating art as jewelry, she chronicles some of the most notable works in the free standing art form. Over 300 pages that contain astounding images of wearable works of art aim to showcase the rising genre worn as a form of adornment. In Art As Jewellery, Guinness also sheds light on two seemingly separate yet parallel design disciplines that have met at a crossroads to become an emerging trend in both the art and jewelry industry.
Art As Jewellery is a gateway to understanding and appreciating the new art form slowly gaining more traction, attention and applause. There is a distinction between art by a jewelry designer and jewelry by an artist. This is discussed within the pages of this book along side a chronological telling of how this genre has evolved pre and post 2000. Guinness writes, "They are not jewellers and they do not spend most of their time making or designing jewellery. This is important because they are not trained in the field. Therefore, their untrained eye, and often, lack of knowledge in production technologies, does not restrict them from conceiving designs that might elude a classic jeweller." Art As Jewellery also discusses, from a curator’s perspective, the value in art-designed jewelry.
Featured in the coffee table collectible are works by Salvador Dali, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst. Photographs by Alexander English, Ugo Mulas and Antonio Mulas capture unique design propositions of contemporary artists as translated through wearable or small-scale sculptural adornments.