Wearing Art vs. Wearable Art

Over the last decade, the term ‘wearable art’ has been increasingly used to describe jewelry – ‘wearable art jewelry’, particularly, couture and boutique pieces. But, the worlds of fine art and jewelry have long been intertwined, the former often inspiring the latter.  

In the modern era, everyone from Picasso to Kandinsky has inspired jewelers to transform the colors, movement and emotion of their jewelry art into a medium of precious stones and metals. Even artists themselves, like the famous American sculptor Alexander Calder and Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, expanded their talents into the art jewelry space.  

Jewelry Inspired by Famous Painters

Interpretation of Van Gogh's famous post-impressionist sunflowers by Alex Soldier

When we think of jewelry houses being inspired by fine art, though, a few notable examples from our peers come to the forefront of our minds here at Gurhan. There’s the almost realistic interpretation of Van Gogh's famous post-impressionist sunflowers by Alex Soldier. With diamonds and gems encrusting the whimsical ring shape and design, it’s a wonderful take on the artists’ famous paintings. There’s also Anna Hu’s impressionist Monet Water Lily necklace which seemingly drips like water and is spilling with gems and diamonds in the color of the famous French painters’ pallet.  

Anna Hu’s impressionist Monet Water Lily necklace

What we love about both these jewelry art pieces is how they evoke a real sense of identity in relation to the art in which they have been inspired by — but are in no way kitschy. By using precious stones and metals and pairing it with exquisite craftsmanship, both designers have created pieces that could stand on their own without context. But what we are missing from these pieces, and many jewelry collections that draw inspiration from fine art, is the every-day wearability. 

“Embrace” - Gurhan’s New Gold Jewelry Collection

At Gurhan, we’ve always been inspired by world travel and culture, including art. So, for one of our latest jewelry collections, we wanted to derive jewelry pieces directly from a work of fine art that not only inspired us, but felt like it was part of our very essence. ‘Embrace’, based on the famous Klimt painting, was all about bringing the awe-inspiring beauty of fine art to the accessibility of jewelry. To do so, we wanted to take the same feelings exuded by Klimt’s painting — like warmth and sensuality — and make it tangible and wearable art rather than over the top. With rich colors and glittering gold enveloping the couple, this piece of jewelry art spoke directly to our love of the precious metal while challenging us to create something bolder than we ever have.  

the Embrace Collection

What was so exciting about this jewelry project — and what we think most jewelers find exciting about deriving inspiration from fine art — was that we could put our own spin on it. For us, that’s breathing new life into history and found objects. And with the ‘Embrace’ collection, we wanted to create pieces that had this fresh wearability while remaining equally timeless pieces of art themselves. 

The result is a juxtaposition of organic, swirling shapes to represent the womanly form with contrasting geometric male shapes. Everything is offset by gold and inlaid with jewels, from the cuff to the hoop earrings. Seeing the original work and our ‘Embrace’ collection side by side, there’s no doubt that our pieces have been inspired by Klimt. But we also hope that you, or anyone who admires these pieces, will be able to appreciate them on their own, too. We designed this art jewelry collection to love both today and tomorrow.   

Leave a comment