Luxury Jeweler Graff Draws Inspiration From the Elegant Loops of Cy Twombly’s Scribble Paintings
The contemporary artist's calligraphic drawings inspired the diamond-studded line.
Cy Twombly’s looping lines, furious scribbles, and abstract doodles reveal less about the intention of the American postwar artist than the relentless energy with which he painted. His often oblique references to Ancient Greek deities, Western mythology, and modern poetry may be too obscure for the plebeian viewer, yet his work, in its enigmatic originality, has long seduced collectors and art lovers—his scribble paintings fetching prices upward of $70 million on the art market.
Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds and best known as the “king of diamonds,” is a passionate art collector whose own collection of 20th-century masterpieces includes works by Twombly alongside other pieces by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Pablo Picasso.
It was the intense energy and spontaneous quality of Twombly’s work that Graff sought to capture in the high jewelry collection it first presented last spring, inspired by the distinctive calligraphic style of the artist.
The “Art Inspired” collection was unveiled in March, two years after the major European retrospective of the artist’s career at the Pompidou Center in Paris, which had offered a comprehensive and enlightening perspective on his work.
“From the way we bring diamonds together through the skillful cutting of the stone to the making of each special piece, this is a great art form,” Graff told artnet News. “We design what we consider to be the world’s finest jewelry.”
High jewelry requires craftsmanship and the meticulous application of skills. It also requires patience, which a painter like Twombly understood all too well. For all its effusive energy and swift execution, Twombly’s creative process was painstakingly slow.
“For months he would imagine the work, sitting down with a canvas for days, hours, fixing an image in his mind, until it was photographed in his mind, and then he would work very quickly on the canvas,” said Nicola del Roscio, Twombly’s longtime collaborator, at the opening of the Paris show.
The abstracted surfaces of Twombly’s painting are more suggestive than literal. Similarly, the sensual lines of Graff’s collection replicate the movement of Twombly’s scribbles to capture their emotional charge.
The centerpiece of the Graff collection is a white diamond necklace featuring 1,071 individual stones set around a 4.06-carat pear-shaped diamond, its lines looping around a total of 83.58 carats of diamonds.
The matching earrings feature a pair of stunning pear-shaped diamonds, set around more than 200 round and baguette-cut diamonds. Two rings in this striking parure offer a choice of two shapes, each with a centered diamond set on swirling ribbons of white diamonds.
A version of the same series, in a combination of diamonds and blood-red rubies, was no doubt inspired by Twombly’s Bacchus painting series, named after the Roman god of wine.
Twombly is not the only artist to have stirred the creativity of the design studio at Graff. The mystic suprematism of Kazimir Malevich, expressed through abstract geometric shapes and bold colors, inspired a playfully colorful collection that mimics the experimental compositions of the Russian artist. Another, titled the Luna Collection, looks to the minimal, monochromatic work of the Italian artist, Paolo Scheggi, and suggests his elliptical apertures in jewelry pieces that set superimposed form against layers of color.
“For us, it is essential that a jewel should have a mystique,” Graff said. “There must be something enthralling and beautiful about it to capture the imagination.”
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