Tuesday, November 12, 2013

BUREAU ART REVIEW: " A Quest for BEAUTY : The Art of VAN CLEEF & ARPELS " at THE BOWERS MUSEUM Through to February 15 th 2014



October 27 th 2013 through to February 15 th 2014

2002 N Main St. Santa Ana CA 92706 714 567 3600

Tues - Sun  10 am to 4 pm 

 A rare look inside the history of an extremely well known 
Jewelry House of Paris France: Van Cleef & Arpels. Famous 
for creating one of a kind, made to order, extravagance.

Many on view here in America for the very first time. 
An exhibition of Iconic functional art worn by some of 
the most gifted and notoriously glamourous women on 
the stage, in film and the world of fashion. Including 
Princess Grace, Liz Taylor, Barbara Hutton, Jacqueline 
Onassis, Maria Callas and Princess Soraya, to name a few. 

The BOWERS Museum has really come a long way since 
it' s original inception and specifically over the past ten 
years.  What was once a quaint little community space 
for art is now a relatively world class institute of fine art.
This particular exhibition is indeed the jewel in the crown.

One might have expected this show to be placed at The 
LA County, Norton Simon or The Getty. It has the flair of 
a Smithsonian Institute type of cultural exchange exhibit.
A wide variety of styles and time periods: rings, bracelets,
watches, hand bags, tiaras, necklaces and even a crown.
Many assembled here for the first time in one entire exhibit.

The Bowers also has plenty of other works in their current 
collection: paintings, sculpture and a lovely courtyard and 
even a nice little restaurant.  It is an expansive Museum 
with incredibly high ceilings, large rooms and an architectural 
layout full of natural light, world class to be sure. There is a 
story behind just about every peice in the show. With original 
works from the Nineteen Twenties through to the present time. 
Inspiration culled from playful animal images to classic diamond 
inlaid works of a royal variety. 

Van Cleef & Arpels is an austere House of Jewelry with a storied 
past. Not unlike another famous Parisian house of influence: 
Chanel.  Founded by Estelle Arpels and her husband Alfred 
Van Cleef, with contributions by other family members through 
the years. The Art Deco pieces of the Nineteen Twenties are 
especially impressive. Employing diamonds and platinum, onyx 
and sapphire, rubies and pearls. 

The Bretzel & Tulle necklaces all have a timeless quality. Also 
on view are plenty of brassy styles from the 1970's, bold, iconic 
with a culturally diverse group of influences, specifically Chinese 
and Egyptian. Known for it' s  'Mystery Settings', which was 
actually patented in 1933 as a special technique that is a mix 
between, high art, sculpture and jewelry. It allows the work to 
float without actually viewing the setting of the stones. Thus 
the mystery. 

The exhibit, which will stay in Santa Ana at the Bowers Museum
until mid February 2014, comes with a lush publication chronicling 
the history of Van Cleef & Arpels  and the works exhibited with 
essays from Vincent Meylan, Marion Fasel, Janet Zapata & Timothy 
Adams: All professionals in the world of Art, Jewelry and the like.

From 1895 with the wedding of Arpel and Van Cleef and into the 
current time, this timeless house of handcrafted jewelry is a rare 
and culturally momentous occasion for both Paris and Southern 
California. If 'Diamonds are a girl's best friend …', then this may 
be a good time to take a 'best friend' to the Bowers sometime 
between now and next Valentines day. Or stop by one of the 
many Van Cleef & Arpels Stores and enjoy the current catalogue.

Look for upcoming reviews in our Fashion Section on Van Cleef 
& Arpels line of perfumes, cologne and accessories of all sorts. 


Reviewed by Joshua TRILIEGI for 
BUREAU of Arts and Culture Magazine