Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st Century

  • KATONAH, New York
  • /
  • September 11, 2018

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Daniel Jocz, Pot Shots, An American's Riff on the Millstone Ruff, 2007. Courtesy of Daniel Jocz © Daniel Jocz.
John Baldessari, Mr. Bluebird on My Shoulder (with Diamonds), 2013. Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, New York © John Baldessari.

Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st Century, opening at the Katonah Museum of Art (KMA), Katonah, NY on October 21, 2018, reimagines the traditional boundaries of body ornamentation. Jane Adlin, former curator of modern and contemporary design at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, brings together 50 bold, unique, and innovative pieces of jewelry that broaden our expectations of personal adornment. 

“Jewelry, in one form or another, has been around since the beginning of time,” Adlin explains. “From prehistoric evidence of body decoration made from found materials such as shells and bone, to Egyptian, Grecian and Roman use of newly invented material like glass, to Renaissance artisans’ use of vibrant stones and gem-set gold, jewelry has always been a cultural signifier.”   

Rather than focusing solely on materials and process, this distinctive exhibition asks whether jewelry is even defined by its wearability. Works like Marjorie Schick’s neckpiece Spiraling over the Line and Ted Noten’s iconic, yet unwearable, acrylic handbag defy notions of jewelry sitting neatly on the body.

The objects in Outrageous Ornament come from a diverse range of creators, both traditional jewelers and interdisciplinary practitioners from the fields of art, architecture, design, and fashion. Renowned contemporary artists John Baldessari, Mary Heilmann and Cristina Iglesias have expanded their practice to explore art designed to be worn on the body. Architect Zaha Hadid designed a collection of jewelry for Georg Jensen, referencing the signature sculptural forms of her buildings. Jewelers Melanie Bilenker, Lola Brooks and Bettina Speckner turn to the past for inspiration, while Märta Mattsson and Naama Bergman use unusual materials, such as cicadas and salt, in novel ways. Many of the works, including those by Iris van Herpen, Danyi Zhu, Gregory Larin and Lauren Kalman stretch the relationship between adornment and the human body, as well as the way it holds, responds to and plays with the human form.

Iris van Herpen, Chemical Crows Skirt, Collar, 2008. Courtesy of Iris van Herpen Atelier © Iris van Herpen.

Michael Gitlitz, KMA’s executive director remarks, “Even though Grace Kelly noted that, ‘A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls,’ the desire for ornament has been central to both men and women since the dawn of civilization. Ornamentation and jewelry have always served as one of the most important aspects of human expression and Jane Adlin has curated an extraordinary exhibition presenting the most innovative and sophisticated practitioners of this artistic form.”

A diverse program of events have been designed around Outrageous Ornament. More info: http://www.katonahmuseum.org/.  

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