Art of Movement exhibition

From December 24, 2021 to February 28, 2022, the Maison will be presenting its new exhibition “The Art of Movement. Van Cleef & Arpels, living moments, eternal forms” at the Sea World Culture and Art Center in Shenzhen, China. Featuring more than 80 creations from its patrimony collection as well as numerous archive documents, this selection illustrates the Maison’s constant quest to impart movement into precious materials. 

Since its foundation in 1906 in Paris’ Place Vendôme, Van Cleef & Arpels has blended the excellence of its High Jewelry savoir-faire with great delicacy of vision in order to imbue the most precious materials with lightness and dynamism. Notable for their motifs, their three-dimensional volumes and their composition, the creations stand out as manifestos of the art of movement.

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Human Odyssey

The adventurous spirit of the early modern period – followed by the industrial era of the 19th century – gave rise to ever more sophisticated machines for exploring the world. Since its foundation in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has used its creations to accompany that bold human odyssey of wanderlust. 

 

This idea of movement expanded to include depictions of the human body in motion: the rhythm of its positions, the beauty of its curves, its surging leaps. Twirling in tutus of precious stones or golden sequins, ballerinas have enlivened the Maison's universe since 1941, dance remaining an endless source of inspiration to this day.

Human Odyssey

Nature alive

Whether figurative or stylized, the Maison's flora and fauna-inspired creations bear witness to its taste for living nature. Birds with delicate plumage, dreamlike fairies and butterflies with outspread wings flit across the sky, filling the air with poetry.

 

Floating on a precious breeze, diamond feathers alight on shoulders, Mystery Set flowers blossom on jacket lapels, or prepare to bloom on day or evening dresses. The bouquets of the late 1930s and early 1940s, with their blue and yellow sapphire corollas, seem freshly picked. Like snapshots, the animals that adorn clips, necklaces and bracelets appear to have been frozen in mid-action.

Elegance

Since its creation, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn inspiration from the world of couture, like a homage to its place of birth. One of the specificities of these jewels is an ability to transform to match different outfits. The central motif of a ribbon-shaped necklace can be removed and worn as a brooch, while double clips separate to adorn each side of the neckline.

 

The appearance of motifs inspired by passementerie gave rise to pieces that echo the movements of the body. Depicting bows and ribbons, they also illustrate the renascent femininity of the post-war period. Supreme examples of flexibility, jewels echoing serge fabric or rope motifs mold themselves perfectly to the silhouettes of the women who wear them.

Elegance

Abstract movements

Attentive to artistic movements throughout the 20th century, the Maison interpreted them in an original way, playing with shapes and materials. 

From the geometrically-decorated boxes of the 1920s to the pure, rounded lines inspired by Modernism and the kinetic magic of the hippie era, Van Cleef & Arpels has always played with the beholder's gaze. Abstract yet fun, some works from the 1960s onwards recall Op Art, drawing us into an interplay of illusions. 

The movement of the stars, lightning bolts illuminating the night sky and the dance of meteorites round out this selection, in a final burst of creativity.

Following the ribbon

To highlight this rare set of creations, the scenography echoes the theme of movement. Welcoming visitors at the entrance, a floating matte ribbon takes the shape of an ethereal flower. Inspired by the Silhouette Flower clip – an emblematic design imagined by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s –, this anamorphosis unfolds to accompany visitors throughout the exhibition, guiding them on their journey. 

 

The four themes explored by the Maison are highlighted by the unique setting: inspired by the world of couture, each showcase is entirely made of pleated fabric and assembled on a vertical floor-to-ceiling support. Like abstract paintings, it attracts the eye and kindles a thoughtful dialogue with the jewels, the textile folds and curves echoing the designs of the pieces.