From Picasso to Koons – Benaki Museum

From Picasso to Koons
Artist’s Jewellery
16th of May – 2th of September 2012
Benaki Museum – Main Building

The Benaki Museum’s Main Building occupies one of the few neoclassical buildings that continue to resist the aesthetic deterioration of post-war Athens. It is located on an exceptionally favourable location in the historic centre of the city, right opposite the lush greenery of the National Gardens.

Georges Braque, Louise Bourgeois, Max Ernst, Lucio Fontana, Anish Kapoor, Yves Kleine, Jeff Koons and Pablo Picasso are some of the 20th century’s greatest and best known artists. What is less well known are the incredible works of sculptural beauty created by these artists in the form of jewellery. “From Picasso to Koons: Artists’ Jewellery”, curated by Diane Venet, explores works from an array of artists, not known as jewellers, who have created stunning works of jewellery, both reminiscent of their existing artistic vocabulary and in other instances representing a striking departure from their oeuvre. These richly imaginative pieces were never intended for mainstream production, created as one-of-a-kind pieces or limited editions, that were often personal gifts made for family and friends, revealing an intimate view into the lives of the artists who created them.

The exhibition includes more than 200 masterpieces, mainly from Diane Venet’s collection, made by the most important 20th century visual artists: Arman, César, Giorgio de Chirico, Jean Cocteau, Julio Gonzalez, Keith Haring, Fernand Léger, Roy Lichtenstein, Yoko Ono, Man Ray, Niki de Saint-Phalle and Bernar Venet are merely some of the renowned artists featured. Greek artists, such as Stephen Antonakos, Costas Coulentianos, Alecos Fassianos, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Takis, Nakis Tastsioglou and Theodoros, need to be added to this creative convergence of various realms of material creation: art, design and craft.

The exhibition: “From Picasso to Koons: Artists’ jewellery” aims to discuss the connection between jewellery design and visual arts. The craft of jewellery-making has typically been differentiated from the arts. For centuries, it has been considered a lesser art form, but is nowadays finally recognized as on a par with the fine arts. Great jewellery —like great art — needs to make a statement. It should be about new ideas, new materials, new techniques, and a new attitude towards wearing jewellery, thus confirming the establishment of artist-designed jewellery as its own field. The exhibited jewellery-sculpture made by Miguel Barceló, Pol Bury, Alexander Calder, Leonor Fini, Robert Indiana or Wilfredo Lam opens the door for fertile discussions about the intersection between sculpture, painting and jewellery, as well as how challenging it can be for artists to imagine a much smaller version of their original and more famous pieces. The exhibition offers a new way of bridging the established aesthetic vocabulary of great artists with the limitations in size, weight, and purpose of use typically imposed by the craft of jewellery-making.

The Benaki Museum publishes, on the occasion of the exhibition, a small volume including the highlights of Diane Venet’s collection presented at the Athens exhibition, as well as the Greek artists’ jewellery on display at the Benaki Museum.
The catalogue of the New York exhibition of the collection in the Museum of Art and Design, titled: “From Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler” (published by Skira-Flammarion, edited by Diane Venet and written by Diane Venet, Barbara Rose and Adrien Goetz) will be also be available in the Museum’s shop. It provides a beautiful photographic account of the pieces featured and includes concise artist biographies.

Curator: Diane Venet
Exhibition’s designer: Nakis Tastsiolgou
Coordinator: Xenia Politou
Lenders to the exhibition: Magdalena Abanakowicz, Naomi & Stephen Antonakos, Corice Arman, Magda Baltoyanni, Margareta von Bartha, Lina Bebi, Marc & Sara Benda, Anne de Boismilon, Stéphanie Busuttil, Pierre-Alain Challier, Christian Scheffel Gallery, Elisabetta Cipriani, Horacio Cordero, Didier Antiques, Maria Dimitriadi – Medusa Art Gallery, Marisa Fassianou, Marina Filippini, Eleni Filipopoulou, Marie Haddou, Ingrid Joccheim, Lia Kanagini, Ismini Kapantai, Marina Karella, Bill Katz, Sofia LeWitt, Louisa Guinness Gallery, Michèle Maltou, Germana Matta, Miltos Mihailidis, Danielle Morellet, Marie-Madeleine Opalka, Theodoros Papadopoulos, Meropi Preka, Nakis Tastsioglou, Theodoros sculptor, Zolotas