The Metropolitan Museum of Art has not only reinstalled its American Modernist wing on the first floor, but it’s given over the design gallery right inside the door to Unique by Design: Contemporary Jewelry in the Donna Schneier Collection, on view through August 31.
Gertrude Stein is holding court in the far back gallery with some of Mr. Stieglitz’s treasures, but on your way to see them, check out the high-class, high-gloss presentation of masterworks of wearable art from the 1960s through today.
The thesis of the show is contemporary jewelry doesn’t exist in a vacuum and often reflects the prevailing art of the day — Pop, Minimalism, Abstraction, and so forth.
In 2007, Ms. Schneier donated 130 of her favorite pieces to the Met – just a small fraction of the collection she has been building for over 30 years. Here, these gleaming, surprising, artful, fun pieces are grouped to highlight their context within various themes of recent contemporary art.
As you marvel at each one, you’ll be thinking back across decades of gallery shows and installations of minimalist art, performance art, funky found art, and 3D printing.
Check out the gold neckpiece right inside the door. You might think it’s a riff on the Met’s room full of Columbian gold across the hall, but this treasure is actually made of paper and canvas by the Pijanowskis (Eugene and Hiroko).
Marvel at what seems to be Native American-inspired breastworks by Kiff Slemmonds. Her art piece is fabricated with a lot of stuff but mainly No. 2 pencils in the “narrative” portion of the show.
If you like self-referential playfulness, consider Gijs Bakker’s piece – a real diamond mounted on a PVC-laminated photo of a diamond. Recyclable art? Check out Robert Ebendorf’s brooch made from crushed auto window glass, beach glass, and a vinyl record.
And if you think it’s fun to poke around the history of contemporary art through jewelry that’s neatly tucked inside a single room, don’t ignore the fact that right beyond this gallery door is another art-history tour-de-force-in-a-box: The Met is displaying Mr. Duchamp’s famous green case, which is full of many of the same visual and conceptual challenges – “what is art?”, “what is play?” “what is hidden?”, and “everything you see is not as it appears.”
What would Rose Sélavy herself choose to don from the next room if the Met and Ms. Schneier gave her chance?
Peek at a few of the choices on our Flickr site, but enjoy wandering through the gallery and deciding for Rose and yourself.