Since last May Betony Vernon presentes her work through MEDUSA exhibition at The Musée D’ Art moderne de la Ville de Paris where Betony for the first time has unveiled her Boudoir Box to the general public. The luxurious, leather bound, Italian hand crafted jewel case is an interface for sensual exploration and contains over 30 Paradise Found Fine Erotic jewels and Jewel-Tools. The Medusa show at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris runs from the 19 May until 5 November 2017, and is a jewelry exhibition that questions our relationship to jewelry both physically and conceptually. The Boudoir Box was initially designed in 2000 and served to transport and display Betony Vernon’s Paradise Found Fine Erotic collections. Helmut Newton was scheduled to document its existence for The New York Times in 2004 but as a result of his fatal accident, the meeting was cancelled. The Boudoir Box has since become a mysterious object of desire seen by few. Photographer Jeff Burton documented the Boudoir Box in 2006 in the museum house of Carlo Mollino in Turin, Italy however Betony decided to not release any imagery of the box until the unveiling at the The Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris this month. The MEDUSA exhibition has gathered more than 400 works – by artists such as Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, Calder, Dali, Picasso, Fontana, as well as pieces from Victoire de Castellane, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, ethnic pieces and contemporary jewelry. The MEDUSA exhibition takes a contemporary and unprecedented look at jewellery, unveiling a number of taboos. Just like the face of Medusa in Greek mythology, a piece of jewellery attracts and troubles the person who designs it, looks at it or wears it. While it is one of the most ancient and universal forms of human expression, jewellery has an ambiguous status, mid-way between fashion and sculpture, and is rarely considered to be a work of art. Indeed, it is often perceived as too close to the body, too feminine, precious, ornamental or primitive. But it is thanks to avant-garde artists and contemporary designers that it has been reinvented, transformed and detached from its own traditions.
In the wake of the museum’s series of joint and cross-disciplinary exhibitions, such as “L’Hiver de l’Amour”, “Playback” and “Decorum”, MEDUSA questions the traditional art boundaries by reconsidering, with the complicity of artists, the questions of craftsmanship, decoration, fashion and pop culture. The exhibition brings together over 400 pieces of jewellery: created by artists (Anni Albers, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, Alexander Calder, Salvador Dali, Louise Bourgeois, Lucio Fontana, Niki de Saint Phalle, Fabrice Gygi, Thomas Hirschhorn, Danny McDonald, Sylvie Auvray…), avant-garde jewellery makers and designers (René Lalique, Suzanne Belperron, Line Vautrin, Art Smith, Tony Duquette, Bless, Nervous System…), contemporary jewellery makers (Gijs Bakker, Otto Künzli, Karl Fritsch, Dorothea Prühl, Seulgi Kwon, Sophie Hanagarth…) and also high end jewelers (Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Victoire de Castellane, Buccellati…), as well as anonymous, more ancient or non-Western pieces (including prehistorical and medieval works, punk and rappers’ jewellery as well as costume jewellery etc ).
These pieces, well-known, little-known, unique, familiar, handmade, massproduced, or computer made, mix some refined, hand-wrought, amateur and even futuristic aesthetics which are rarely associated together. They sometimes go far beyond simple jewellery and explore other means of engaging with, and putting on, jewellery. The exhibition is organized around four themes with a specific display for each: Identity, Value, Body and Instruments. Each section starts from the often negative preconceptions surrounding jewellery in order to better deconstruct them, and finally reveal jewellery’s underlying subversive and performative potential.
Fifteen works and installations by contemporary artists (Mike Kelley, Leonor Antunes, Jean-Marie Appriou, Atelier EB, Liz Craft…) dot the exhibition, echoing the themes of its various sections. The works presented question related issues of decoration and ornament, and anchor our connection to jewellery within a broadened relationship to the body and the world. 19 May – 5 November 2017