For decades, the fusion of cultures has been an infinite source of inspiration for artists the world over. From January 19 to June 17, 2024, this encounter between East and West is highlighted by the exceptional exhibition “Van Cleef & Arpels and Japan: An Artistic Encounter”. Nestled in the heart of Paris, at 20, place Vendôme, this exhibition invites you to dive into the enchanting universe where Japanese inspirations have shaped the timeless aesthetics of the House of Van Cleef & Arpels.
in Europe, the latter half of the 19th century was profoundly marked by an artistic movement termed “Japonism” by French critic Philippe Burty. From the 1920s onwards and throughout the century to the present day, the Land of the Rising Sun has captivated creators at the Maison: they adopt its motifs and symbols, translate its techniques and materials, and reinterpret and adapt its objects.
For instance, since the mid-16th century, Japanese men have worn inrō, small boxes attached to their belts serving as pouches for kimonos traditionally devoid of pockets. The Maison repurposes their use and destination to create typical beauty necessities while retaining their original inspiration. Through the addition of chains and rings made of jade pearls, lacquer sequins, gold or platinum links, these objects become pure expressions of the art of jewelry.
Japanese inspiration is also found in a rich iconography. Sometimes overtly, as seen in a 1957 table clock where a pair of women in kimonos, carved in rock crystal, bear the dial of a watch. Sometimes, a keener eye is required to unveil the original image. For example, a 1958 bracelet where twisted gold threads intersect, revealing beneath their interlacing a diamond paving, reminiscent of Japanese sword guards.
Since its establishment in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has also celebrated this Japanese inspiration with one of its main motifs: lacquered butterflies. Symbolizing a nature in motion, they flutter from collection to collection in an immense variety of designs and materials. Since 2004, the Maison has given carte blanche to Hakose San, a Japanese lacquer master, to conceive these motifs. He has thus showcased golden buttons on the Kikumakie clip, cherry blossoms on the Sakura model, and Japanese irises on the Hanashobu butterfly.
Japan, a constant source of inspiration since the 1920s, is unveiled in this exhibition, highlighting the artistic and technical exchanges between the Far East and the West at Van Cleef & Arpels.
“Van Cleef & Arpels and Japan: An Artistic Encounter”
Location: Galerie du Patrimoine, 20 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France
Dates: January 19th to June 17th, 2024
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Contact: +33(0)1 55 04 11 11
Admission: Free, no reservation required