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.
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.