When most people think of Salvador Dalí, they picture his surreal dreamscapes or his fabulously well-kept mustache, but only a few has ever seen his works of wearable art. Dalí left quite an impressive legacy in the jewelry industry that dates from 1940s to the 1970s. He throughly sketched his designs on paper, specifying rigorously details like shapes, materials and colors, which were later carried out in New York under the supervision of Argentinian goldsmith Carlos Alemany (from 1940 to 1970), and later Henryk Kaston (from 1980 to 1990). Gold, precious stones, pearls, and corals among other noble materials were used to shape Dalí's ornamental ideas, which he insisted were an important part of his full body work because it dug deeper into his global conception of art — a language that can be expressed throughout any medium.
"IN JEWELS, AND IN ALL MY ARTISTIC ACTIVITY, I CREATE WHAT I LOVE MOST. IN SOME OF THEM ONE CAN DISCERN AN ARCHITECTURAL MEANING, AS IT ALSO HAPPENS IN SOME OF MY PAINTINGS. ONCE AGAIN, THE LOGARITHMIC LAW IS HIGHLIGHTED, AS WELL AS THE INTERRELATION BETWEEN SPIRIT AND MATTER, BETWEEN SPACE AND TIME." -DALÍ
Most of Dalí's jewelry work can now be found on the permanent exhibit entitled Dalí Joies at the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, Spain.
But back in the 1950s, Mr. Dalí wasn't the only artist experiment with different media. Alexander Calder's jewelry pieces are, to this day, highly regarded. He crafted his pieces personally in his studio, differentiating himself from artists like Pablo Picasso and Max Ernst who designed limited production jewelry lines in collaboration with French goldsmith François Hugo, who produced limited sets of numbered and signed pieces using iconic images from the artists' paintings.
Even though making jewelry is not as highly recognized on the mainstream art scene for being a craft, and not "art" per se, one thing is certain: the artist-designed jewelry trend uncovered a niche in the market and found a receptive audience, which has been growing ever since with artists like Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and many others venturing into it to this day. Now, can we plan a heist and steal a few? 😈