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Jeweller King in City of Gold
by Muhammad Yusuf April 04, 2013
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A new and imaginative vision of Paris emerged when Cartier and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain joined forces at the recently concluded Art Dubai (Mar. 20 – 23) fair. Cartier and the Fondation inspired Alessandro Mendini to create a work of art titled Le Visage Archaique that rose up like a monument from the heart of Medinat Jumeirah, where the fair took place.

The piece was a cross between a jewel and a votive offering, made of gold mosaic. It exuded an aura of sanctity. On its collar, a necklace with three precious pendants in gold, created at the Cartier workshops at the artist’s request in 2002, gave off sparkles of brilliant colour. The role of the objects was kept deliberately ambiguous — they fell somewhere between jewellery and votive offerings — raising questions that remained unanswered.

Said Louis Ferla, Regional Managing Director Cartier Middle-East, India & Africa: “We are very pleased to participate in Art Dubai this year, reaffirming Maison Cartier’s commitment to the arts as a corporate patron, through the Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain. Created in 1984,” he added, “the Fondation expresses Cartier’s interest in all forms of arts, by encouraging artists from around the world and providing a forum to stage their creativity freely.”

Earlier in November, the work was displayed in Paris, when, strolling down the reinvented street of 13 rue de la Paix, visitors discovered the vital link between Paris, the historical heart of the Maison’s expertise, and Cartier jewellery workshops, the birthplace of unique creations and the art of jewellery-making.

Mendini, an architect and designer by trade, was born in Milan in 1931. A partner in the Nizzoli company and co-founder of the alternative movement Global Tools, he was also successively the editor of Casabella and Modo magazines and the architecture magazine Domus. In the late 1970s, he began working at the Studio Alchimia, where he developed his theories on the art of the ordinary and the kitsch. His career took off with collaborations with Alessi, Venini, Philips, Bisazza and Swatch. In 1989, he founded the Atelier Mendini.

As a self-confessed dabbler in all things art, his work, a fusion of colours and different materials, combines not only the fields of interior design and painting, but also music and literature. “His creations are never reduced to the simple functional expressions of their roles,” says his bio. “They become a feeling, an emotion, resulting from an extravagant array of colours and perspectives, repetitions of patterns or intricate details.”

In 2002, the Cartier Foundation, in its exhibition Fragilisme, presented his most emblematic works and a series of commissions, including the Petite cathedrale, entirely covered with a mosaic, and the Guerrier de verre in Murano glass. For the Cartier Foundation exhibition Histoires de voir, Show and Tell, Mendini presented a journey rich in colours, shapes and materials, in which each artists’ stories and visions played a central role.

Founded in 1847, The House of Cartier has been producing pieces that express a unity of style for generations, in every kind of artistic expression. “The jeweller,” it says self-confidently, “never ceases to delight the public with its dazzling collection that places contemporary High Jewellery creations alongside Fine watchmaking masterpieces in perfect continuity bearing witness to the vitality if its creations, both past and present.”

Cartier sets great store by its designs. They are the vital link between Paris, the historic seat of the Maison Cartier, and the art of jewellery-making, according to the jeweller. “The secretive workshops of 13 rue de la Paix in Paris are the birthplace of unique creations, each of which testifies to the expertise and stylistic wealth of Cartier,” says a spokesperson. “Such creations are the fruit of a union between designer and stone, jeweller and precious materials.”

The Fondation Cartier expresses Cartier’s commitment to the arts as a corporate patron. A pioneer in the field, Cartier invests on an unrivalled scale to promote the art of its time. From its inception in 1984, it has established a long-term commitment to artists of all nationalities.

Initiated in 1984 by Alain Dominique Perrin, President of Cartier International at the time, on a suggestion by the artist Cesar, and directed by Herve Chandes, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is a unique example of corporate philanthropy in France. Since moving to Paris in 1994, the Fondation Cartier has been housed in an airy building filled with light that was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. In this unique setting, exhibitions, conferences and artistic productions come to life.

At once a creative space for artists and a place where art and the general public can meet, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is dedicated to promoting and raising public awareness of contemporary art. As a reflection of the times, the Fondation embraces all creative fields and genres of contemporary art, ranging from design to photography, from painting to video art and from fashion to performance art.

Each year, it organises a programme of exhibitions based on either individual artists or themes, and commissions work from artists, thus enriching its collections. It also organises the Nomadic Nights, a rendezvous that focuses on the performing arts, where artists explore links between the visual arts and other forms of contemporary artistic expression. Exhibitions and the collections themselves are frequently sent to institutions abroad, enhancing the Fondation Cartier’s international profile.

The journey from the design to the achievement of the finished piece, it has been pointed out, involves a blend of traditional jewellery-making skills, expertise and talents. It demands months of reflection and research and calls on the irreplaceable skills of a whole raft of craft workers, each of whom makes a unique contribution to the creation of an exceptional jewel.

Art collectors had the unique opportunity to marvel at the jewels nestling in showcases and explore manufacturing secrets during the course of the fair. “A true testament of savoir faire and stylistic richness of Cartier,” was one comment about the “C” stand. Visitors also journeyed into a series of exclusive salons, particularly the legendary “Jeanne Toussaint” salon. Toussaint reigned over the jewellery world during her innings as Director of Jewellery at Cartier in 1933.

Since 1847, creativity and art have been mirrored in Cartier’s jewellery creations, demonstrating supreme artistic creativity combined with unparalleled expertise. The creations earned the Maison Cartier the famous declaration by King Edward VII: “Cartier, jeweller of Kings, King of jewellers.” For his coronation in 1902, Edward VII ordered 27 tiaras and issued a royal warrant to Cartier in 1904.Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam (Thailand), Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Albania, Monaco and the House of Orleans.

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