Monday, February 10, 2014

The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990

If you are in San Francisco I highly recommend visiting the de Young Museum before the Bulgari exhibit closes on the 17th (only one week left!). Nearly 150 pieces of jewelry bring the visitor on a decade-by-decade tour of the Rome-based jeweler's innovations in jewelry design from 1950 to 1990. The stunning jewelry is accompanied by great contextual descriptions of inspiration and techniques as well as large scale scrolling image projections of jewels and various celebrities and notorious figures wearing Bulgari throughout the decades. Overall, I was impressed with the number of cabochons in one space - they were everywhere!
Pendant/Brooch, 1958. Necklace, 1962. Platinum with emeralds and diamonds. Formerly in the collection of Elizabeth Taylor. Bulgari Heritage Collection. Photo: Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte Roma

Visitors seemed to spend the most time in the room hosting pieces from Elizabeth Taylor's collection. While her emerald and diamond necklace and pendant/brooch (pictured above) from Richard Burton were particularly incredible to see in person, my favorite room in the exhibit was the one dedicated to Bulgari's work from the 1970s. You could blatantly see the departure in design and intention from the more royal-worthy jewels Bulgari had been producing until this time to ready-to-wear items. The sautoirs (a French term for a long necklace that suspends a tassel or other form of ornament) in particular were stunning. Weighty gold chains, colorful, playful, graphic and serious statements, here are some of my favorites:
Sautoir, ca. 1973. Gold with yellow sapphire, tiger’s eye, citrines, and diamonds. Bulgari Heritage Collection © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte Roma.

Sautoir, 1972. Gold with yellow and blue sapphires, agate, citrines, and diamonds. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte Roma
Playing Card sautoir, 1972. Gold with coral, mother-of-pearl, onyx and diamonds. Bulgari Heritage Collection. Photo: Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte Roma
At the very end of the exhibit there is a video outlining the process behind and man hours (some 500+) required to make a sautoir. The necklace featured in the video is displayed next to the television monitor. I thought the nod to the craftsmanship and time needed to produce such perfection was a great way to end the exhibit.
My only complaint about this exhibit would be that there were not enough pieces (selfish, I know!). The 395 pieces at the JAR exhibit set some high expectations! And besides, with jewelry more is always better :)

Link to exhibit:

No comments:

Post a Comment