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Image by Rosie Fraser

Jewelry. The Body Transformed

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

The Met, NYC announces it latest exhibition;

Location & Dates: At The Met Fifth Avenue, NOVEMBER 12, 2018–FEBRUARY 24, 2019

"Sparkling, glittering, and above all, fascinating, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibit Jewelry"

Aria Darcella, The Daily front Row, Fashion Week Daily.

What is jewelry? Why do we wear it? What meanings does it carry? Traversing time and space, this exhibition explores how jewelry acts upon and activates the body it adorns. This global conversation about one of the most personal and universal of art forms brings together some 230 objects drawn almost exclusively from The Met collection. A dazzling array of headdresses and ear ornaments, brooches and belts, necklaces and rings will be shown along with sculptures, paintings, prints, and photographs that will enrich and amplify the many stories of transformation that jewelry tells.

Melanie Holcomb talks about the exhibition she has curated;

"Because jewelry is often small scale, you might overlook it. This is an exhibition that is meant to kind of pull out those small treasures, drawn almost entirely from The Met's collection. Taking this global approach alongside sculptures, paintings, photographs to enrich the kinds of stories we're trying to tell about jewelry.

What distinguishes jewelry from any other art form: it's worn on the human body. The very center of the whole exhibition will take you from toe to head. We're actually trying to insert the body and the practices around jewelry back into the discussion. It's as much about aesthetics as it is about meaning.

Adornment is one of the most meaningful activities that we engage in. Jewelry is often linked to the gods and is often linked to royalty. Specifically, looking at Oceanic material, we learned of the importance of jewelry in invoking ancestors. But this is something we also see in the West. When we have jewelry that includes the hair of your grandmother—family memory, this is a meaning that jewelry carries across cultures.

Throughout the show we'll look how jewelry engenders desire, making us bodies to be looked at.

The show certainly includes some of the great names in jewelry: Tiffany, Lalique, Boucheron, alongside contemporary jewelers Calder, Schiaparelli, or Shaun Leane, who are manipulating the body to the extreme.

This is a show that really speaks to those magical qualities of jewelry. To remind us that jewelry has a kind of agency that both carries meaning and that does something to us when we wear it."

Official Transcript by: Melanie Holcomb, Curator of Medieval Art, Met Nyc


The Met:

Further reading:


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