14 May 2018
The Elsa Vanier Gallery: a must
If you fancy some contemporary jewelry you will never see anywhere else, take a trip to the Elsa Vanier Gallery. A place for those in the know.
“Everything started in the late Seventies, when I was walking past the window of Jean Vendome, and was brought up short by a necklace made of clouds of turquoises and diamonds.” Alongside a career in finance, she explored the world of contemporary designers. She began to meet them, and took classes in gemology and jewelry design. “I wanted to understand their work better and try it myself, while wondering how to promote them,” she says. “The result was this gallery now celebrating its 15th anniversary.”
The gallery’s creators
Today, Elsa Vanier Gallery presents jewelry by designers, visual artists and craftspeople like Jean Grisoni, Céline Sylvestre, Florence Croisier, Claire Wolfstirn, Yael Sonia and Ambroise de Genève. She hosts world-famous figures in contemporary jewellery, including Marianne Anselin and Sophie Hanagarth. Her outstanding exhibitions put the spotlight on a country’s avant-garde, an atypical material like wood or titanium, or concepts like “weightlessness”. And what amazing interpretations of lightness! Marie Grimaud at Métylis produces paper rings studded with diamonds, Céline Sylvestre weight-shaped brooches evoking what our bodies “carry” in terms of memory, and Kim Buck rings and pendants in helium-inflated gold leaf.
Agathe Saint Girons and Niessing
The French visual artist and the German company embody the Elsa Vanier Gallery spirit: conceptual, for a limited audience, but poetic too, with a touch of humor. In her workshop, Agathe Saint Girons experiments with metal, ceramics and Teflon in bangles, orblows glass into a cocoon, in which she encloses a ring. You have to break one to gain possession of the other… In a very different style, Niessing produces clean-lined jewelry using patented techniques like gradations moving from yellow gold to silver, and the “Tension” setting. Here the two ends of an open ring clasp the stone, suspending it in mid-air without gripping it too loosely or tightly. An extraordinary feat.
Her open-minded, eclectic eye leads Elsa Vanier to some remarkable finds: pieces produced in small series or even one-of-a-kind. You should take your time, try things on and ask her to delve into her cabinets. Some items are totally affordable, like Claire Wolfstirn’s earrings at €120, or a pair by Agathe Saint Girons at €190. They would suit a trendy girl or her grandmother alike. And you can be sure you’ll see them nowhere (or practically nowhere) else. All these pieces are the kind of artists’ jewelry now riding on the powerful wave of contemporary art and exhibitions of Diane Venet’s collection. All of them areobjets d’art, experiments and talismans for which Elsa Vanier is the self-appointed ambassadress. As those in the know… know!
Banner image : « Silhouette » and « Corde sensible » brooches, Céline Sylvestre © Matthieu Gauchet