At Robb Report we regularly cover jewelry made by artists—expert craftspeople with decades of expertise in gem-setting, metalwork, and stone cutting—but a new selling exhibition at Sotheby’s East Hampton’s outpost at 66 Newton Lane intends to shine a light on wearable art made by early 20th-century masters like Man Ray, Max Ernst and Niki de Saint Phalle to modern-day artists like Jeff Koons, Christopher Thompson Royds and Anish Kapoor. The “Sculpture to Wear” selling exhibition, set to take place August 3-28, will include 80 rare pieces created by more than 28 painters, sculptors and photographers.
Curated by Louisa Guinness of the Louisa Guinness Gallery in London and Tiffany Dubin, the vice president and client liaison of Sotheby’s New York’s fashion division, the pop-up will offer a rare opportunity for collectors to get their hands on wearable, and significantly more portable works of art. The opportunity to own one of Koons’ 3-feet-tall steel bunny sculptures, created in a series of three, has passed with the last one up for grabs going to a private collector for $91.1 million in 2019—the most expensive work sold by a living artist. But now you can take home a diminutive platinum version ($90,000) to wear on your neck, the ultimate playboy piece, thanks to Guinness and Dubin.
“The discerning collector understands that they can own a masterpiece created at a human scale,” says Dubin in a press statement. “Claude Lalanne’s has always been a favorite; Venezuelan Op and Kinetic artist Jesús Rafael Soto’s works are magnificent; British Contemporary artist Christopher Thompson Royds is another standout.” The latter, a traditionally trained British artist-turned-jewelry-maker, is known for working around the idea of pressed wildflowers as mementos with flat renditions of 3D florals, as well as impressive sculptures that transform into multiple pieces. Dubin’s favorite work, however, is an 18-karat gold Les Amoureux pendant necklace that detaches as a brooch by Man Ray created circa 1970 and inspired by his 1936 painting of the same name.
Every piece in the exhibition is signed, either one-of-a-kind or limited edition—and anything but conventional. Take for example, Bill Copley’s Chaìne pour une femme enceinte (Chain for a pregnant woman), created in collaboration with Copley’s friend, jeweler GianCarlo Montebello, which is a provocative piece meant to represent the mother’s role at shaping the child with moveable 18-karat gold infants or Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s “Fucking Beautiful” necklace with the letters spelling out the phrase in gold in a barbed-wire like fashion around the neck. All come with their own display support, so that when not being worn they can be enshrined in the home.
Sotheby’s next selling exhibition celebrating wearable art will take place in its Palm Beach location just after Thanksgiving, followed by a pop-ups in New York City, London and Taipei.