The answer depends upon whom you ask. The value of an object or piece of art has always been decided by the active observer and the final price, decided by the collector. Contemporary jewelry is no different. The premise by which the object was able to fulfill its promise of virtuosity for the wearer is of no real deciding consequence. Within the confines of contemporary museum collections, the conversation of value and price is also fueled by the argument of craft vs. art. Is it posable of them to joyfully intervene? Or at the very least not interfere with one another individualism? The age old query of, “is it considered “art”? is another factor. Duchamp answered this a century ago, yet with the advent of new technology, humans ensure this dialogue continues. The context of this discussion usually being self-serving.
The recent acquisitions of contemporary studio jewelry into the collections of formal art institutions (vs. craft museums), such as Helen Drutt’s Collection into the Museum of Houston and Lois Boardmans’s and Lynn Altman’s collections by LACMA, serve as a reminder that to the collector, curator and ultimately museums, the craftsmanship of a piece or time exemplified to execute is not as omnipotent to them as it is to the maker.
Fine artists welcome the ideology of incorporating varied media forms and processes into one artpiece perhaps more readily than what is accepted in traditional studio jewelry. In the recent New York Times article, they note, “At the Venet Foundation near St. Tropez, created by the Venet couple, whom are both artist and collector, their close friend, Frank Stella, made several “jewels” reminiscent of his shaped canvases for Diane Venet, rendering them as 3-D computer designs to be cast in a foundry”. This is the ultimate melding of high art, to craft and masterfully painted to machine made. For collectors, the distinction of hand-crafted or adding technology is fully accepted. Like Mrs. Venet whose jewelry collection will be presented at the Musee des Arts Decoratif in Paris with fine art, sculpture, tapestry, ceramics – which media or how it was created does not play into her choices. She simply maintains, “I wear ART”.