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Artist Projects

Celebrating Louise Nevelson’s Eclectic Sense of Style

On the Occasion of Celine’s Artist-Inspired Jewelry Release

Published Nov 26, 2021

While Louise Nevelson is best known for her monochromatic wooden sculptures that incorporate multifarious, compartmentalized elements, the artist also nurtured a jewelry-making practice that was deeply engaged with her work in sculpture. Bold and textural, Nevelson’s jewelry echoes the imaginative depth and formal complexity of her sculptures and collages. Throughout her life, she created some 200 jewelry pieces that are part of various public and private collections around the world.

As part of its Artist Jewelry Program and in collaboration with Maria Nevelson of the Louise Nevelson Foundation, the brand Celine has revealed two limited-edition necklaces informed by jewelry pieces that Nevelson created and wore. Headed by artistic director Hedi Slimane, the Celine Artist Jewelry Program reinterprets the work of major visual artists for the contemporary fashion world.

Available in select Celine stores, the two new jewelry pieces are created with vermeil and oak wood and sterling silver and oak wood, respectively. In homage to original jewelry pieces by Nevelson, Celine’s necklaces feature a lively play between their wooden and metal components. These 50 signed and numbered jewels from Celine are presented in black wooden boxes that hint at the artist’s iconic sculptural assemblages.

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"I love to put things together. My whole life is one big collage. Every time I put on clothes, I am creating a picture, a living picture, for myself."

Louise Nevelson

Nevelson, who often dressed in elaborate ensembles, cultivated a distinctive sense of style throughout her career in New York. As Dorothy Gees Seckler wrote of Nevelson in Art in America in 1967, “Even when she has just come from the studio with smudged face and wearing whatever colorful costume she has improvised, one does not for a moment forget that this woman conducts her life to the measure of grandeur … Her clothes, like her décor, make large concessions to comfort but none to mode.”

“I love to put things together,” Nevelson said of her sartorial sensibility in 1976. “My whole life is one big collage. Every time I put on clothes, I am creating a picture, a living picture, for myself.”

For her pendants, brooches, earrings, and other jewelry pieces, the artist used black painted wood, yellow and white gold, and sterling silver to forge dynamic, multifaceted abstractions that reflect her sculptural practice. Works of this kind were shown in major exhibitions during Nevelson’s lifetime, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s traveling 1967 exhibition Jewelry by Contemporary Painters and Sculptors; Jewellery ’71 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1971; and the 1973 presentation Jewelry as Sculpture as Jewelry at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

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"I wanted to show that wood picked up on the street can be gold."

Louise Nevelson

Nevelson also employed unorthodox materials in her jewelry. When the artist designed sets and costumes for the 1984 production of the 18th century opera Orfeo ed Euridice at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in Missouri, she made pendants for the cast using flattened tin cans painted black and gold, black painted fishing floats, and black cords.

Of her interest in found and unconventional materials, Nevelson once said, “I wanted to show that wood picked up on the street can be gold.”

Artist Projects — Celebrating Louise Nevelson’s Eclectic Sense of Style on the Occasion of Celine’s Artist-Inspired Jewelry Release, Nov 26, 2021