Mastery of an Art: Van Cleef & Arpels – High Jewelry and Japanese Crafts

Mastery of an Art: Van Cleef & Arpels - High Jewelry and Japanese CraftsImage courtesy of The National Museum of Modern Art 

Mastery of an Art: Van Cleef & Arpels – High Jewelry and Japanese Crafts
April 29 – August 6, 2017
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

 

Van Cleef & Arpels is world-renowned as a maker of high jewelry. This exhibition, focusing on fine Japanese and French craftsmanship, showcases beautiful works that are products of artistic mastery and also provide insight into the two countries’ cultures. The first section surveys currents in jewelry within the context of Van Cleef & Arpels’ history, from the company’s founding to the present day. This is followed by a comparison between high jewelry and highly accomplished Japanese works from the Meiji Period. 

 

Mastery of an Art: Van Cleef & Arpels - High Jewelry and Japanese CraftsImage courtesy of The National Museum of Modern Art 

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The final section, a look at cultural fusion and the future, offers viewers a sumptuous look at artistic craftsmanship in contemporary Japan and France. Van Cleef & Arpels, one of the foremost Maisons of French high jewelry, is known for its unique style and technical excellence. In 1895, Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a gemstone-cutter, married the precious-stone dealer’s daughter, Esther (Estelle) Arpels. In 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels was established on Place Vendôme, located in the heart of Paris. In 1925, Van Cleef & Arpels’ rose bracelet was awarded the Grand Prize at the International Exhibition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts held in Paris, bringing the Maison international fame. In the 1930s, Van Cleef & Arpels introduced the Minaudière, a sophisticated type of evening bag, and received a patent for the “Mystery Set,” a unique technique that allows stones to be set with no metal or no prongs visible.

 

Mastery of an Art: Van Cleef & Arpels - High Jewelry and Japanese CraftsImage courtesy of The National Museum of Modern Art 

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The technique has been carried on by the virtuoso craftsmen called “Mains d’Or” (Golden Hand). Since then, Van Cleef & Arpels has developed a succession of works that exemplify the Maison’s creative spirit, including the Zip necklace and the Alhambra collection. In 1956, Prince Rainier III of Monaco presented a set of Van Cleef & Arpels’ pearl and diamond jewelry as a wedding gift to Grace Kelly and the Maison became the purveyors of the Principality of Monaco. Counting many royal family members and celebrities among its customers, the Maison’s jewelry and watches, filled with dreams and poetry have attracted a worldwide following. Van Cleef & Arpels maintains an archive of precious works, reflecting a wide range of stylistic trends that emerged with various historical developments. Most of these were produced in the Maison’s studio between the 1920s and the 1980s. The majority of items in this exhibition are derived from this collection.

 

more. www.momak.go.jp

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