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Contrast and Balance in Jewels by JAR

Chantal Stein, College Intern

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two objects from the exhibition Jewels by JAR

Left: JAR. Bracelet, 2010. Diamonds, silver, and platinum. Private collection. Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris. Right: JAR. Tulip Brooch, 2008. Rubies, diamonds, pink sapphires, garnets, silver, gold, and enamel. Private collection. Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.

«It takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to the darkness in the exhibition Jewels by JAR (on view through March 9, 2014). The walls are black, the ceilings are high, and glass cases lined with red velvet are set into walls and columns. Warm lights behind the glass spotlight the artwork within.»

Jewels by JAR features the work of the jewelry designer Joel A. Rosenthal, who works in Paris under the name JAR; this exhibition at the Metropolitan is the first retrospective of his work in America. Rosenthal's sculptural jewelry designs are bold, unique, and brilliant; he uses precious stones in vibrant colors, metals such as gold and aluminum, and nontraditional materials such as beetle wings in his work. His pavé technique—placing small stones so close together that they look like one continuous surface of jewels—and use of subtle gradations of color give the hard, geometric gem stones a very painterly, fluid feel.

Rosenthal also plays around with the idea of natural versus man-made in his pieces that aren't made from gem stones. He designs pendants that look like different kinds of nuts but are actually sculpted out of wood. And then there are witty food objects, such as wooden almond cakes and bagels, that are surprising and hilarious.

The concentration of expensive, precious stones in the gallery might seem over the top, but it's balanced by the design of the exhibition. There are no object labels next to the pieces but rather numbers that you can look up in a booklet at the exhibition entrance to find titles, dates, and materials. This minimalism, combined with the dark walls, muted lighting, and soft red velvet, gives the room an intimate feel that is both unexpected and beautiful, and really makes the individual pieces of art shine.

Related Link
Jewels by JAR

Tag(s): jewelry


  • Joan Gutierrez says:

    Hi. After saw this exhibition I thought that it could be a new way to feel the art of the sculpture and feel the things that are unique. The jewels are in their essence so beautiful and their shapes are too perfect.
    The exhibiton it's a window to a world that is currently underestimate.

    Posted: January 18, 2014, 11:29 p.m.

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About the Author

Chantal Stein is a college intern with the Museum's College Internship Program.

About this Blog

This blog, written by the Metropolitan Museum's Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and occasional guest authors, is a place for teens to talk about art at the Museum and related topics.