Two by Two

“Light is architectural. It is sculptural.”  - Robert Wilson

NEW YORK, NY -- Upon walking into Chelsea’s Cedar Lake space one is greeted with a transformation of light. Robert Wilson has created for Van Cleef & Arpels a meditative space in which to view their collection of Noah’s Ark Animals - a collection three years in the making composed of the whimsical animal couples we know so well. Fashioned as brooches, and keeping with Van Cleef’s excellent craftsmanship, the pieces themselves are alone worth the outing, but it is Wilson’s imagining of the partnership between art, space and light that makes the installation come alive.

A theatrical design icon, Wilson focuses on the more subtle aspects of design and performance. In this installation, he allows the jewelry to speak for itself, amidst the melodic background of Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part. The room is dark, and the walls are dotted with windows into the ark, each centering a pair of animals designed by Van Cleef & Arpels. Wilson’s use of light in this work is in direct reflection of Van Cleef’s masterful use of the same. Each animal is meticulously constructed with charming corals, deep lapis that mimic the night sky, bright turquoise, luminous mother-of-pearl, and enough diamonds and gemstones to highlight each animal’s whimsy. Each pair of animals is unique and brings a smile to the observer.

A small whalebone ark hangs off-center in the room, allowing the viewer to feel more as if they are within, rather than outside. After several minutes in the room, thunder crashes and lightning flashes, awakening viewers and setting off the illuminated windows. The experience leaves one with the feeling of falling back down to earth, after being transported into Mr. Wilson’s world of transcendence.

An at once dreamy and exhilarating experience, the show puts forth the best face for both the artist and the art. A pure melding of minimal dramatics and the remarkable world of Van Cleef, Robert Wilson’s exquisitely executed show of Van Cleef & Arpels Noah’s Ark Animals is a worthwhile excursion.

Noah’s Ark Inspires Van Cleef & Arpels

On view through Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001

Portrait of specialist Martha Garcia
Vice President / Appraiser, Jewelry Department
View Specialist Profile