Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Talking mannequin at the Jean Paul Gaultier show at the Brooklyn Museum

For New Yorkers, two incredible shows are going on at the moment: a retrospective of the work of Jean Paul Gaultier at the Brooklyn Museum, and Jewels by JAR at the Met.

The first show is hardly a secret, as evidenced by the mile long ticket lines without, and the awestruck and view-obscuring crowds within.  While I admit, I previously was not an ardent admirer of Jean Paul Gaultier, and was only familiar with his more recent work, I was a quick convert after the show, which presented an expansive life survey of his work.  The show ranged from the earliest paper cone-bra that a child Gaultier had made for his teddybear, going on to touch on the various recurring motifs in his work (S&M, bondage, sailor stripes, punks, saints, sinners, etc.), while paying special attention to his jaw-dropping couture pieces.  The show was also impressive in its forward thinking curation and exhibition design, which featured mannequins with video taped faces of models projected onto their heads, batting their eye lashes, chatting, and singing to the spectators.  The show, which was organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, has been on tour for the last two years, so some may have seen it already.  Nonetheless, if you haven't, it is well worth the ticket price.

The second show, Jewels by JAR, features the mesmerizing work of the Bronx-born, Paris-based cult jeweler Joel A. Rosenthal. JAR is notoriously curmudgeonly, and only crafts a few dozen of his ultra-elaborate, phantasmagorical pieces a year.  Each piece fetches well into the tens of thousands of dollars, and mostly are exclusively viewed by the impressive list of famous ladies who collect them.  It is therefore an incredible treat to have four-hundred pieces of JAR jewelry culled together in one place, allowing viewers an up close look at the tedious amount of man-hours and painstaking craftsmanship that go into assembling the over-the-top pieces.  Of course, photos were not allowed at the exhibition, but I did find pictures of two of my favorite pieces from the show: a zebra brooch wearing a diamond feather plume, and a parrot-tulip broach with articulated unfurling petals made of diamonds, garnets, and rubies, and an enameled stamen. 

JAR Tulip brooch, photo by JAR

JAR Zebra brooch

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