Imagine a pair of diamond earrings fit for Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen—long, sinuous, beautiful and deadly. Well, you’ll find them at Precious Objects, the Victoire de Castellane show at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue outpost. On display is de Castellane’s jewelry, although this particular collection of jewelry is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. These pieces come from a world where Charles Baudelaire, Mary Shelley and Jimi Hendrix are clustered in a booth on the second floor of Deux Magots, smoking Gauloises, drinking absinthe and playing Exquisite Corpse. In de Castellane’s aesthetic lexicon, precious objects are in fact fleurs du mal brought to life.
And yet: to refer to de Castellane’s pieces as mere objects is to miss their living quality. They seem to pulse and glow and move, to beckon the viewer to touch them, to feel them against the skin. They have a strange dark beauty that is both mesmerizing and frightening. You’re not sure you want keep looking at them, but you know you don’t want to look away.
De Castellane began making jewelry at the ripe old age of five, when she dismantled a valuable charm bracelet of her mother’s and used the pieces to fashion herself a pair of earrings. At twelve, she melted down the religious medals she received for her First Communion and made a ring with the gold. Her work today is infused with this same rebellious spirit—she employs a wide array of colors and textures and materials, elements that don’t seem to belong together anywhere other than de Castellane’s magical world. A case in point is Amanita Satana Diabolus (2010), made of lacquered silver, white gold, yellow gold, opals, colored sapphires, mandarin garnets, spinels, diamonds, and fossilized wood. Yes, there’s a lot going on, including psychedelic flowers and magic mushrooms and what can only be described as tie-dye. Not everybody can carry off these pieces, and not everybody will have the desire. But if you’re someone who has ever wondered what you’d wear to the Mad Hatter’s tea party, well, now you have your answer.
In the photos: "Opiom Velourosa Purpra"- 2010, and "Cana Bisextem Now" - 2010, "Honey Florem Peach Frutti" - 2013, "Cana Glitter Night Baby" - 2013, and "Vitam Industria Abstract Multi Candy [Earrings]" - 2013.
All images Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, © Victoire de Castellane.