A unique example of jewelry being accepted as art…. or at the very least, snuck into the Met via an acquisition by the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art !
From the 92Y blog, May 2011: “Wahl was trained as a jeweler and sculptor, and started this series of drawings as a response to the launch of his own jewelry line. He noticed that some people were puzzled that he creates both sculpture and jewelry, as though, he says, they were oil and water, instead of being linked to and informing each other. Looking at some pieces of Victorian mourning jewelry one day, he realized that many of the pieces, designed entirely in black and intended for adornment during the long period mourners were not supposed to wear gold, silver or bright colors, looked like sculpture. “I thought I’d try drawing them on a much larger scale,” Jonathan explains. “If they were blown up that large, they would read as sculptures, not as brooches, and people would see the common ground between the two art forms.”
Wahl’s work is characterized by a technical brilliance, allowing the artist to replicate a specific aesthetic found in the history of jewelry adornment. His scale shift indicates that a greater importance should be given to the chosen reproductions, forcing the viewer to pay attention to detail and appreciate the forms. The success of his work does not just rely on Wahl’s drawing skills, but it’s also due to his choice selection of era. Victorian mourning jewelry is forever contemporary, made timeless by its facets, symmetry, use of chains, and of course, its jet blackness. Wahl’s hand skills reflect those necessary to actually create a piece of jewelry like those found in his drawings, closing the gap between art and jewelry’s alleged differences, while indirectly educating the general public about moments in the history of jewelry. These drawings may spark conversation and interest into the world of contemporary jewelry with a question as simple as, what else is out there today? For Wahl, and in this case also for the Met, jewelry ≥ art.
photos taken from artist’s website