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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Famous Bulgari Jewelry on Display in San Francisco

“Tubogas” choker, 1974; two-color gold with Greek silver coins. Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 404 N607. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte.

By Maria Ling,
Assistant Editor

One more reason to spend the holidays in San Francisco is the ongoing exhibition of Bulgari jewelry at the de Young Museum

The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond 1950 - 1990,” is an exhibition of approximately 150 pieces created by the renowned Italian jeweler over four decades. It highlights jewelry that defined a pivotal period in Italian design, and includes pieces from the personal collections of Elizabeth Taylor, Ellen Barkin and other famous names. The exhibition will run through February 17, 2014.

Sautoir, 1969, platinum with sapphires and diamonds. Formerly in the collection of Elizabeth Taylor. Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 6675 N2170 © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte.

Bulgari notably began to create its own trademark in jewelry in the 1960s by embracing boldly-colored combinations of gemstones, use of heavy gold, and forms derived from Greco-Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and the 19th-century Roman school of goldsmiths. The company helped to develop a look that would come to be known as the “Italian school” of jewelry design. Pieces in the exhibition display the jeweler’s eclectic creativity and invention during this period.

Bracelets, 1955 and 1959; platinum with diamonds. Formerly in the collection of Ellen Barkin. Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 4924 B527, 4925 B528 © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte.

Works in the exhibition also include those from the 1970s and 80s, a particularly innovative period for the jeweler and one influenced by Pop Art and other contemporary trends. 

“Parentesi” parure, ca. 1982; Gold with diamonds. Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 5063 E173, 5068 N1500, 5072 B508 © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte.

“The hard-edged designs of the 1970s included a whole range based on the Stars-and-Stripes motif, while in the 1980s the Parentesi collection had a smoother, modular, almost architectural presence; both show how the jeweler could lead in new directions with a strong sense of design,” said Martin Chapman, curator in charge of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

“Bib” necklace, 1965; Gold with emeralds, amethysts, turquoise, and diamonds. Formerly in the collection of Lyn Revson. Bulgari Heritage Collection, inv. 401 N565. © Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte

Bulgari’s successful cultivation of prominent patrons and movie stars like Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, and perhaps most notably, Elizabeth Taylor, has long been a key aspect of the jeweler’s reputation. 

To help explore the cultural context in which these objects were made, the exhibition will include sketches, photographs, and other archival materials that help to reveal an intersection of celebrity, design and fine craftsmanship.

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