Going through a magnificent catalogue of the exhibition Picasso to Koons: Artist as Jeweler, held at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC in 2011 I was happy to discover a new dimension of Picasso, the artist whom I have been following for a long time at the places of his birth and life in Spain and France. His arts and crafts aside from painting always attracted me most, his jewelry experiments confirmed that once again.
Le Grand Faune, brooch of 23k gold, 20/20 edition François Hugo after Pablo Picasso, 1973 (private collection of Diane Venet)
In the mid-1950s he made jewelry for his partner (and lover) Dora Maar. Among them were a number of brooches, rings, and carved amulets that Picasso made for her during their tumultuous war-time affair.
He started to produce gold jewelry in 1956 in Aix-en-Provence. Being fascinated by the art of Renaissance goldsmiths for a long time he could not find someone to transform his ceramic platters into pieces of jewelry. Finally the solution was found, it was not less than the great-grandson of Victor Hugo, François Hugo.
The jewelry work was very dear to the heart of Picasso – he kept his objects and did not exhibit for a long time until 1967, when a limited mass production was launched.
Everything you can imagine is real. Pablo Picasso
Visage rond, After Pablo Picasso, 1972, Brooch, 23-carat gold, edition François Hugo, Diane Venet collection
Trèfle, After Pablo Picasso, 1972, Brooch, Gold, edition François Hugo, Diane Venet collection
I also discovered that the daughter of Picasso, Paloma Picasso is a famous jewelry designer, creating collections for Tiffany & Co. (now I know where are the roots of my favourite collection “Olive Leaves”).
After university, I was working as a stylist in the Paris theatres when I had a flash of inspiration. I made necklaces from the bikinis designed for the cabaret performers of Folies Bergeres. I was so happy with them that it was only then that I sought out formal training in jewelry.
Nothing in the world can be more exciting than to create something and see it work. Paloma Picasso
Paloma Picasso’s jewelry career began in 1968, when she was a costume designer in Paris. Some rhinestone necklaces she had created from stones purchased at flea markets drew attention from critics. Encouraged by this early success, the designer pursued formal schooling in jewelry design. A year later, Ms. Picasso presented her first efforts to her friend, famed couturier Yves Saint Laurent, who immediately commissioned her to design accessories to accompany one of his collections. By 1971, she was working for the Greek jewelry company Zolotas.
In 1980 Picasso began designing jewelry for Tiffany & Co. of New York.
Information about the exhibition from the catalogue of the exhibition Picasso to Koons: Artist as Jeweler (Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, 2011)