Women jewelers, goldsmiths and artists have worked diligently for centuries to make a name for themselves in the jewelry world, but it is rare to see their works collectively. Now a new exhibit focuses specifically on their jewelry and how women have shaped the industry.
The exhibition, Women of Vision: 70 years shaping the world of jewelry from 1950 to today, will be on view until May 12 at the Mahnaz Collection gallery in New York. The exhibition features more than 250 pieces of jewelry from women whose works are now priceless collectibles, as well as women whose work is just starting to take off, organizers say.
Mahnaz Collection founder Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos says the history of women in jewelry has been built over time. But that includes a wide range of backgrounds, including female designers who were successful in their time and who are largely unknown today, and contemporary designers, whose work has sometimes enjoyed more support and success in today’s environment.
“I wanted to highlight 70 years of women making jewelry because often people don’t have a historical context that women have been making jewelry – very important jewelry – for a long time,” Bartos says.
Although the gallery does not focus on sex or gender, race or diversity – “I just searched for excellence in design and excellence in craftsmanship” – it also found that setting place of this one-of-a-kind exhibit was educational. so exhilarating.
What these women have in common is not just their talent and sense of design, but also their innate understanding of femininity, what women want to wear, and how jewelry should feel on the female body, says Bartos.
Bartos says she wanted to surprise and delight viewers by bringing together influential and emerging contemporary designers.
The exhibition includes some of his longtime favourites, such as Gerda Flöckinger. Bartos describes her as “a revolutionary jeweler in terms of technique. She showed so many people how to fuse metals to such a high point that they almost disintegrated. Then she scattered the gems through this metal. You should see his gems, they are glowing.
There’s Vivianna Torun, a woman whose personal beauty rivaled her jewelry. “Her job was simple, but she had a way of really understanding how a couple could sit, really sit, on a collarbone. She understood a woman’s body… She really understood the female form.
There will also be a large Noma Copley collection; right now you can buy some of his work at a Christie’s auction highlighting surrealist art. “She was photographed endlessly by Man Ray, but she was an artist herself,” Bartos says. “She made this sewing kit where all the pieces are jewelry, from buttons to scissors to bobbins. It’s utilitarian, but it also looks plush. She should be much better known for her work.
Bartos also hopes the exhibit will support today’s jewelers making classics, including artists like Solange Azagury-Partridge. Bartos says the jeweler “sent in a nice collection of recent and historic work, showing his trajectory. She is the grande dame of independent jewellers.
Among the artists featured in the exhibition are Alice Cicolini, Melanie Eddy, Cora Sheibani, Tess Sholom, Van Gelder Jewelery and sculptor Sophia Vari. Additional exhibitors are Barbara Cartlidge, Angela Cummings, Nanna Ditzel, Claire Falkenstein, Leonor Fini, Zaha Hadid, Theresia Hvorslev, Claude Lalanne, ER Nele, Marianne Ostier, Alicia Penalba, Elsa Peretti, Wendy Ramshaw, Eveli Sabatie, Verma Nequatewa (Sonwai ), among others.
Top: With breathtaking color, this Cora Sheibani malachite ring is one of many pieces featured in Women of Vision: 70 years shaping the world of jewelry from 1950 to today at the Mahnaz Collection gallery in New York.
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