Dior haute joaillerie designer Victoire de Castellane is something of a gem soothsayer. She’s crafted irreverent baubles and blinged-out trinkets for the brand since 1998, drawing from a line of whimsical, fantastic, and macabre influences including psychotropic drugs, the Brothers Grimm, and Technicolor flora and fauna. In 2007, the Parisian-based de Castellane began an independent practice of sculpture. Her inaugural exhibition in New York, “Precious Objects,” (which includes two bodies of work: “animalvegetablemineral,” alluding to the parlor game referencing Linnaeus’ taxonomy, and selections from de Castellane’s 2011 gallery debut “Fleurs d’excès”), opens tonight at Gagosian Galley’s Madison Avenue location, in their fourth-floor galleries.
“For me, jewelry and sculpture are complementary. I think it is sad when jewelry is left on the overnight table,” de Castellane says. “I love the idea of making objects that at the same time contain a jewel that you can sometimes wear.” Her sculptures repurpose the language of precious metals and stones, giving them life as objets d’art independent of being worn on the body. In “animalvegetablemineral,” de Castellane integrated earrings, rings, and necklaces into petite tabletop sculptures that, when not worn, stand alone on view. “You take the jewel and wear it, and if you don’t, it has another life as an object—it’s like having flowers that do not die.”
Using the natural world as a touchstone, “animalvegetablemineral,” puts the organic and the artificial into conversation. “Nature is in perpetual movement. It is continually changing,” de Castellane explains. Reformulating flowers, serpents, vegetable-hybrids, and geodes into objects casted in solid gold, perched upon silver pedestals, de Castellane’s manipulation of her materials—including colored lacquer, wielded to various effects and paired with a range of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and de Castellane’s favorite stone, the opal, “which contains all colors at once”—creates a series of otherworldly objects that are both formally abstract and figurative, imparting a sense of fantasy and mystery. “This body of work does not reproduce any specific genres, but represents imaginary ones,” de Castellane says.
VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE’S PRECIOUS OBJECTS WILL BE ON VIEW AT GAGOSIAN GALLERY, 980 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, UNTIL APRIL 5.