Friday, March 28, 2008

Who Says Jewelry Isn't Art?

(Pendant, 1904)

After a long, grueling day at my internship, I had to meet my art history class at the Neue Gallery on 86th and 5th.

Now I was tired, it's Friday, and I wanted the weekend to start. But, I had to go. After all, I am an art major.

Imagine my relief when the first exhibit I walk into is a room full of cases filled with jewelry.

Not only were these pieces amazing because they were so beautiful and were from between 1903-1920 but they had substantial meaning.

(Brooch, 1907)

The jewelry was created by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, Carl Otto Czeschka, and Dagobert Peche, along with many others. During this time, jewlery was usually made of diamonds and gold. These pieces were created to show that gems and silver were just as beautiful. Also on display, were photos of fashion designer Emilie Floge wearing not only the jewelry, but her own creations called "reform dresses".

According to the Neue Gallery's website, the purpose of these pieces were to demonstrate that
"jewelry should be valued for it's artistic merit and not simply for its monitary value."
I loved this about these pieces. People always tend to look at fashion on the surface or physical value. There is more to fashion that meets the eye. Fashion is a mix up of ideas, feelings, and statements that come together to express a purpose.

Another wonderful aspect to these pieces of jewelry was that many of them were functional. The pendant (top picture) was used not only as a necklace but for a mirror. They believed that a women should always have their mirror on them, to admire their beauty. This is something I always get grief over, fashion not be functional. According to many, fashion is about what's on the surface and all it is good for is aesthetic purposes. I love it when examples like the pendant prove those type of statements to be wrong. Personally, I also always hear things such as, "Amanda, those shoes are not practical". Um, actually they are..because they give my feet protection from the ground (with the exception of a blister here or there). Hey, I'm walking aren't I?

That brings me to the final aspect I loved about this exhibit. Emille Floge's photos of her in the jewelry and her dresses were meant to depict how each piece was beautiful. According to Hoffmann, none of them were to be considered more beautiful than the other. They only accentuated a women's beauty.

That concept is brilliant to me. How come we can't live in a society where we can wear beautiful things just because of that? Screw the fact that it could be considered "gaudy" or over done, because if each piece is beautiful, why the hell not?! So about those shoes of mine that aren't "practical"...who cares?? They're hot, right?! No, but really...I loved this concept. I have to image how the women must have felt during the begining of the 20th century when these pieces were created.

I'm just glad that there is stuff out there like this. Fashion isn't shallow like the majority of the world thinks it is. There is so much depth and meaning and knowledge behind this industry. It's more than just shoes, handbags, and dresses. This is what I walked away with tonight. That room alone made my night. I hope that everyone has a chance to visit the gallery for this exhibit alone.

Final thought: Fashion is art, is ART.

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