The New JARhead

AT THE GALLERY: Intricate overlapping leaves in all their pavé wonder dust the shoulders of model Stella Tennant. Called “Weeping-Willow” the diamond and chrysoberyl pendant earrings are the creation of Joel Arthur Rosenthal who works under the acronym JAR. His workshop is in Paris on the Place Vendôme and his clientele are more like private collectors who are undoubdetly members of the extreme wealth tribe. 

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Strength in beauty defined: Model of note Stella Tennant wears “Weeping- Willow pendant earrings by JAR. Photographed by Kacper Kaspryzk for Harper’s Bazaar, September 2013. 

Although he has been a bespoke (special order) jewelry designer since the 1970’s, Rosenthal has only recently started to come to the attention of those outside his exclusive circle. A renewed interest in him may be because in times of economic stress people crave the original -the customized, or quite possibly because of the advent of social media in our lives, we have a deeper desire to be different by having something no one else can have. Or, quite possibly because he has cultivated over time an air of mystery, not advertising his work and often refusing to sell certain pieces simply because he likes them too much to bear to let them go.

 Instrumental in bringing his work to a wider audience, the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York is conducting a retrospective of his work open to the public through March 9th. More than 400 pieces on loan from private collectors are on display. In addition, there is an opportunity to purchase some of his work and associated merchandise. 

A very interesting recent New York Times article explored the possible unseemliness of why Mr. Rosenthal was chosen to be showcased by the Met, when proceeds from sales benefit the museum- a museum respected  for its education centered exhibitions. Whatever the case may be, JAR is a jewelry artist of the highest order-especially as a master of the pavé technique. His designs are sculptural, colorful and have a lot of movement and texture. 

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Butterly brooch from the catalogue accompanying the exhibit, available for purchase. 

Art and commerce have always gone together in some form or another and museums have always needed money. It is only when notable artists start to become overlooked because of changing tastes in fashion or lack of funding that this might become a questionable trend-featuring a contemporary artist linked to the taste of his customers with probably  more than a few of his champions most likely also tied to the Met. When the sole motivator for an institution becomes to sell and the quality of exhibitions suffer, then that is a problem. 

All this possible controversy aside, artist is the appropriate word for someone like JAR for his stunning creations require a tremendous amount of skill and display imagination. They are a celebration of nature, stone and precious materials. More familiar with a different kind of jar, of the preserved jam variety- the average layperson and visitor to New York should benefit from seeing the artistry of this kind of JAR; of the jeweled and gem variety. 

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/jewels-by-jar

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