An Art Af­fair

Mah­naz Col­lec­tion presents ‘Lon­don Orig­i­nals: The Jeweler’s Art in Rad­i­cal Times’ that opened on April 11 in New York. Here are some in­ter­est­ing facts about the show.

Adorn - - MUSEUM TOUR - By Smitha Sadanan­dan

Af­ter a long stint in for­eign af­fairs and a decade with the Ford Foun­da­tion, Mah­naz Is­pa­hani Bar­tos turned her fo­cus to fine vin­tage, de­sign and art jew­ellery - set­ting up Mah­naz Col­lec­tion in New York.

Be­jew­elled mas­ter­works by Lon­don’s jew­ellery-mak­ing leg­ends come to the fore at the ‘Lon­don Orig­i­nals: The Jeweler’s Art in Rad­i­cal Times,’ cu­rated by Mah­naz. The ex­hi­bi­tion at Wright, 980 Madi­son Av­enue, un­veils 150 rar­efied pieces of jew­ellery from the ’60s and ’70s. The ex­hi­bi­tion con­tin­ues the gallery’s ini­tia­tives to draw wider at­ten­tion to pioneers of in­de­pen­dent and artist-made jew­ellery, many of whom are for­got­ten masters. “The sheer force of their free de­sign sen­si­bil­ity fos­tered a re­nais­sance in jew­ellery, re­sus­ci­tated the mori­bund Bri­tish jew­ellery world and made Lon­don rel­e­vant once more as a hub of in­no­va­tion,” says Mah­naz.

The eclec­tic show is also ac­cented by a 150-page il­lus­trated cat­a­logue on the jew­ellery, an es­say pre­sent­ing new re­search on the Lon­don Orig­i­nals and their place in cul­tural his­tory (1960s and ’70s) by Mah­naz, along with an es­say show­cas­ing four mod­ern jew­ellers by Bri­tish jew­ellery au­thor­ity Joanna Hardy. The sig­nif­i­cant cre­ations in­clude mas­ter­works by pioneers such as An­drew Grima, Barbara Cartlidge, Charles de Tem­ple, David Thomas, David Watkins, Ge­orge Weil, Gerda Flockinger, John Don­ald, Kutchin­sky, Tom Scott and Wendy Ramshaw. The strik­ing works of these fab­u­lous artists, ob­serves Mah­naz, were fur­thered by the vi­sion and sup­port of for­ward-look­ing curators, mu­se­ums, gal­lerists and writ­ers, in­clud­ing Gra­ham Hughes, art direc­tor of The Wor­ship­ful Com­pany of Gold­smiths and the Vic­to­ria & Albert Mu­seum in South Kens­ing­ton, Lon­don.

Mah­naz put to­gether this fas­ci­nat­ing show­case with a dis­tinct vi­sion: “I wanted to tell the story and raise the vis­i­bil­ity of the re­nais­sance in jew­ellery de­sign within the tra­jec­tory of their times. The 1960s and 1970s were decades of cul­tural dis­rup­tion and rapid so­cial change, when seis­mic shifts oc­curred in art, ar­chi­tec­ture, fash­ion, de­sign, mu­sic, the role of women, and youth cul­ture. The cli­mate was ripe for an anal­o­gous meta­mor­pho­sis in jew­ellery.” Known for the qual­ity of re­search and jew­ellery au­then­ti­ca­tion, Mah­naz Col­lec­tion works closely with in­de­pen­dent deal­ers, auc­tion houses, and in­di­vid­ual col­lec­tors, to pull to­gether qual­ity pieces. “We aim to buy care­fully, study well, ask as many ques­tions as we need to, be­fore a sig­nif­i­cant piece moves out of our col­lec­tion. We take our time build­ing col­lec­tions of jew­ellery in­house be­fore we sell,” says Mah­naz.

The ‘Lon­don Orig­i­nals’, Mah­naz hopes, will find new and wider au­di­ences in the United States among jew­ellery con­nois­seurs, and also those broadly in­ter­ested in the re­la­tions of de­sign, art and ar­chi­tec­ture to jew­ellery. “They were highly col­lectible in Bri­tain, the United States, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia and the Mid­dle East in their time. They should be col­lectible once more,” she adds.

The ex­hi­bi­tion con­tin­ues un­til May 11th at Mah­naz Col­lec­tion gallery on East 57th Street. Here, the show will add ad­di­tional works from the 1960s made by mod­ern jew­ellers from the United States, the Nordic coun­tries, Switzer­land and Italy in an ef­fort to trans­form it­self into a mod­est trib­ute to the sem­i­nal ‘In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion of Mod­ern Jew­elry,’ held at Gold­smith’s Hall, Lon­don, back in 1961.

(Fac­ing page) Gold, tex­tured sun­burst pen­dant set with a faceted green tour­ma­line and sprin­kled with di­a­monds on a tex­tured gold torque neck­lace. By An­drew Grima, 1972. Mah­naz Is­pa­hani Bar­tos wear­ing unique circa 1950 Afro Basaldella ear­rings and a unique circa 1960 Roberto Burle Marx neck­lace. Photo: Adam Bar­tos

A cabo­chon amethyst, cabo­chon chal­cedony, faceted tour­ma­line set in an 18-karat gold ring. By David Watkins, 1972.

A tex­tured 18-karat gold ring set with a pearl and di­a­monds. By Gerda Flöckinger, circa 1970.

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