Finally saw the JAR exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
person. I tried to be asopen minded as possible, aware of the
previous bias I had developed fromreading about it.
The show was a serious disappointment to me. The lighting onmost of
the pieces was so bright and close up that all you could see was
thegeneral sparkle and not the details of the settings. There were
too many ofthem, intoo small a space, with no evident selective
process to show the best. Somuch for the presentation!
Now for the jewelry itself:I found the forms generally repetitive
and unimaginative. The gemstones were heavily encrusted on some
rather bulbous forms, flat onothers, but covering just about every
surface. I know that they were allprecious stones, but nothing in
the pieces themselves spoke ofthe beauty ofthe stones or showed them
at their best. There were a few where the gradation of colors was
interesting, but notremarkable.
This kind of jewelry does not particularly attract me, so Imay have
carried my bias with me anyway. However the thought occurred to me:
Ifpeople had been told beforehand that the gems were all (very good)
fakes, andthe metals were all (very good) plating, would so many
people have thought theywere beautiful? Would JAR have had a show at
the Met? Do we have a tendency toconflate monetary value with
A truly marvelous exhibit, which I would encourage everyoneto see,
is theSILLA gold. Silla was the Gold center of the world in Korea
fromabout 200 to 800 AD. The materialin this show was all excavated
from tombs roughlyin that time period. Itincludes gold jewelry (with
granulation), pottery, glass, beautiful and unusualBuddha figures.
Everything was beautiful tolook at! I found it very thrilling.
Elegant insects Jewelry