Medusa: a gem of an exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris

Published on 22.05.2017
A new exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, entitled “Medusa: jewellery and taboos”, offers an entirely new perspective on our obsession with these precious accessories. Until 5 November.
© Miami collection - photo Robin Hill
Reproduction d'une broche de Salvador Dali par Henryk Kaston

How can we look jewellery from a fresh perspective? A triumphant exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris has successfully answered this question in the form of around 400 works of contemporary and avant-garde art. Displayed in a series of black containers in the form of jewellery boxes, the precious stones and metals are reinvented as not just ornamentation for our bodies, but also the object of certain rites and – at times – genuine sculptures.

Unconventional contemporary works by Isabelle Busnel and Sari Räthel feature alongside the biggest names in luxury jewellery, such as Boucheron, Cartier and Chanel. Meanwhile, some items are laced with suggestive humour, such as Vivienne Westwood’s crown of false crystals and plastic, Dada’s golden bracelet (sported here by Marcel Duchamp), and Henryk Kaston’s mouth of pearls, a 1970s reproduction of a work by Salvador Dali.

The exhibition’s title refers to a mythological Greek gorgon. This allusion to the terrifying face of Medusa, whose beauty was deformed by the anger of Athena, is entirely in keeping with an exhibition that subverts traditional clichés about our appearances.

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