“I don’t wear jewelry. I wear art,” Diane Venet very famously said last year. The wife of celebrated sculptor Bernar Venet, Diane is a major collector of paintings and sculptures – and she also collects jewelry made by artists.
In a landmark exhibit, Paris’ former Musée des Art Décoratifs – recently renamed MAD – is showcasing 230 pieces from Diane Venet’s jewelry collection, including works by such artists as Fernand Léger, Panagiotis Vassilakis (Takis), Yayoi Kusama, Lucio Fontana, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Pablo Picasso, Anish Kapoor, Niki de Saint Phalle and Louise Bourgeois.
The show, titled “De Calder à Koons, Bijoux d’Artistes. La Collection Idéale de Diane Venet,” traveled to various cities, including Athens, Venice, New York, Seoul and Miami, before landing in Paris. To set the Paris show apart from its previous incarnations, curator Karine Lacquemant combined the jewelry pieces with works loaned by artists, thereby highlighting each piece and enhancing its artistic value.
Pieces on display include a Roy Lichtenstein pin that Diane bought for $3, back in 1968 in New York, and that is now worth $5,000. Other items on view include Man Ray mask-glasses, part of a limited edition of 100, the delightful Pill Charm Bracelet from 2004 by Damien Hirst and a very rare bracelet by Victor Vasarely produced in 1985 as part of the artist’s only jewelry collection.
While jewelry pieces are usually priced according to the value of the precious stones and metals from which they are made, Diane Venet’s objects carry an intrinsic value linked to each artist. Unlike other jewels, they’re coveted because they’re miniature artworks and generally hard to find. The MAD exhibit succeeds in emphasizing the value of each of Diane’s pieces, while offering viewers a poetic journey into a rarely glimpsed universe.
“De Calder à Koons, Bijoux d’Artistes. La Collection Idéale de Diane Venet” runs until July 8 at MAD Paris.