Medusa Bijoux et tabous

Exhibition  /  19 May 2017  -  05 Nov 2017
Published: 23.05.2017
Medusa Bijoux et tabous.
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
Anne Dressen
Fabrice Hergott

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The Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris presents MEDUSA, an exhibition taking 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, 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 E.B., 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.

See here the full Artists List.


Saturday 20 May from 6pm to midnight
Museum Night.
_Free admission to temporary exhibitions Carte Blanche for LA PLACE Hip Hop Cultural Center of Paris Free guided tours led by the scientific team of MEDUSA.

Saturday 17 June 10 am-1 pm, Thursday 6 July 7-10 pm
Writing workshop with Laurence Verdier, author of stories and jewellery.
_For adults; advance booking required via email

Thursday 29 June starting at 10 pm
Open air cinema: Howard Hawks Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

Thursday 28 September at 8 pm
Happening Theta Frequency Session 1 by Betony Vernon in the exhibition .

Thursday 12 October, 10 am-6 pm
Symposium about MEDUSA.
_in the Matisse Room (as space permits).

Thursday 12 October from 7 pm
Performance by Frédéric Braham.
_in the exhibition.

Saturday 14 October 2-5 pm
ASQ Factory performance by Yuka Oyama.
_in the Matisse Room.

Thursday 19 October from 6-10 pm
Let’s talk about art!
_A group of students from the jewellery school AFEDAP welcomes you within the exhibition, to discuss, debate and trade impressions or questions about the works and artists on display.
Vivienne Westwood. Head Piece: Crown, 2000. White and gold metal, velvet, faux crystals, plastic based pearls and faux ermine fur.. From the Vivienne Westwood Autumn-Winter 2000/01 Gold Label runway show - Winter. . Vivienne Westwood
Head Piece: Crown, 2000
White and gold metal, velvet, faux crystals, plastic based pearls and faux ermine fur.
From the Vivienne Westwood Autumn-Winter 2000/01 Gold Label runway show - Winter. 

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Cartier. Piece: Untitled, 1968. Platinum, white gold, yellow gold, diamonds, emeralds, enamel.. Part of: Cartier Collection. Made for María Félix. Cartier
Piece: Untitled, 1968
Platinum, white gold, yellow gold, diamonds, emeralds, enamel.
Part of: Cartier Collection
Made for María Félix

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Hannes Wettstein. Ring: Triller. Silver. Hannes Wettstein
Ring: Triller
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