April 8, 2010

Calder Jewelry

During my lunch hour yesterday I ventured to the Grand Rapids Art Museum to take a peek at the Calder Jewelry exhibit. I loved it! The jewelry was fantastic and unique, unlike anything I had ever seen before, and there was more of it than I expected.

Calder was imaginative and his style playful. His designs are not constrained by convention and expectation. Necklace pour down chests, drape over shoulders, and twirl across collarbones. Oversized brooches take on many forms – abstract shapes bloom and creatures leap. A crown of leaves, a hat of woven wire, and earrings that move with the breeze, miniature sculptures in their own right, all shining within simple black display cases.

This necklace is called jealous husband! All the lovely, feminine loops in contrast to the dangling spikes protruding from the shoulders.

The pieces are made of found materials or basic metals, rarely gold or silver. Many of them feature spirals and swirls. And why not? If you like a shape or a pattern or a color, then why not use it?

I was also touched by the fact that almost all of his jewelry was created as gifts. Most of them were for his wife for birthdays or anniversaries. They had this image on the wall, of her dressing table, with jewelry form her husband arranged as if on exhibit. That in itself is inspiring. How many of us own beautiful things – jewelry, shawls, shoes, dresses and so on – that are tucked into drawers and closets. Why not display the objects as art?

There's only one week left to catch this exhibit here in Grand Rapids. I scoured the web for a few links so you can enjoy some images:
Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
National Public Radio story
Video of the exhibit being installed

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