Jewelry and Taboos

“A piece of jewelry attracts and troubles the person who designs it, looks at it, or wears it.” So begins the introduction of Medusa: Jewelry and Taboos, a jewelry exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris that assembles some of the most eclectic pieces you will ever see. If you plan to be in Paris this summer, take it from us, this is an exhibit not to miss. Jewelry, one of the most ancient forms of self-expression, is prevalent in almost any museum. However, Medusa puts together pieces that are well-known, little-known, mass-produced, one-of-a-kind, computer-made, hand-wrought, amateur, and even futuristic, and organizes them into themes: Identify, Value, Body, and Instruments. It’s a modern take on jewelry as an art form in that takes into consideration craftsmanship, fashion, and even pop culture.

For instance, the Liberace Foundation in Las Vegas has loaned a number of blingy, over-the-top Liberace rings to the exhibit, including a Swarovski-encrusted grand piano ring and a candelabra ring. There is a reproduction of Salvador Dali’s ruby-lips brooch. And, possibly the best reason to visit the museum, is to glimpse Alexander Calder’s eye-arresting “Jealous Husband” necklace that was famously photographed on Anjelica Huston in 1976. Better-known designers include Man Ray, Tony Duquette, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Victoire de Castellane, and Buccellati. But there is also punk, rap, and even costume jewelry.

The exhibit runs through November 5.

Swarovski crystal piano ring given to Liberace by Barron Hilton

Fake nails in palladium and diamonds from the Collection Mellerio

 The famous “Jealous Husband” necklace designed by Alexander Calder and photographed on Anjelica Huston

(Top: A reproduction of Salvador Dali’s ruby lips brooch by Henryk Kaston; all images courtesy of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris)

Kristin Young is writing the All That Glitters blog while Amy Elliott is on maternity leave.

Kristin Young

JCK Magazine Contributor