x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

High jewellery meets art in the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition in Kyoto

On display are 260 creations from Van Cleef & Arpels, alongside 60 works of art by Japanese artists, at the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto.

A choker displayed at the Mastery of an Art exhibition by Van Cleef & Arpels in Kyoto. Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels
A choker displayed at the Mastery of an Art exhibition by Van Cleef & Arpels in Kyoto. Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

Just a few weeks after flying in to Dubai to announce that Van Cleef & Arpels would be hosting jewellery-making courses through its Paris school, L’Ecole, in the UAE later this year, president and chief executive of the brand, Nicolas Bos, journeyed to Japan, to launch the maison’s next initiative: the Mastery of an Art exhibition.

On display now are 260 high-jewellery pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels, alongside 60 works of art by Japanese artists, at the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto (MoMak). The exhibition explores the relationship between high jewellery and traditional Japanese craftsmanship.

“We really value the possibility that museums give to the decorative arts – they deserve to be viewed better and exposed, and MoMak is a key institution in Japan,” says Bos. “It was a fantastic opportunity to discover some art forms that we didn’t know, and that carry the same level of expertise and quality that we convey in our workshops.”

The exhibition is divided into three sections: the history of Van Cleef & Arpels; the mastery of an art; and a fusion of cultures and the future. In the first room lie some of the maison’s most iconic pieces, such as the Zip Necklace made for The Duchess of Windsor in 1951, and the Maison d’Hortense birdcage, which was originally commissioned by an Indian prince for his tree frog in the 1930s.

In the second, 100 high-jewellery pieces are shown alongside 50 Japanese crafts, such as ceramic pots, painted vases and iron figures, where visitors can discover the similarities in motifs and techniques between the two forms.

In the final room, visitors can appreciate more of the maison’s popular creations, as well as the works by Japanese artists who are known as “living national treasures,” due to the rare skills they possess in their fields.

Along with Bos, Japanese actress Yasuko Matsuyuki, whose voice is used for the audio guide of the Mastery of an Art exhibition, was in attendance to kick off the three-month event. Team Luxury flew to Kyoto to explore the exhibition and speak to organisers about the relationship between high jewellery and Japanese craftsmanship. Read the full feature in our upcoming June 2017 issue.

The Mastery of an Art exhibition runs until August 6 at MoMak. For operating hours and ticketing information, click here.

hlodi@thenational.ae