COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Bulgari, Serpent Tuboga, 1975. Courtesy of Bulgari.

The problem with good art is that it makes bad art look worse. Good design makes bad design implode by lack of ideas. Great execution brings out the clumsiness in everything else. Contemporary Bulgari designs pale by comparison to their early slithering predecessors. The latter are part of a small-scale curated exhibit at Bulgari’s flagship […]

Golden necklaces, 2012. Courtesy of Zolotas.

The story of the oldest luxury firm in Greece, Zolotas, resonates with me because the founding family came from my hometown in Central Greece, which the family’s two sons, Lambros and Efthimios, left for Athens. By the end of the 19th century, the Greek capital had made considerable strides in refinement and cosmopolitanism. While destined […]

Biosymbol, golden cuff with rubies. Courtesy of Lalaounis.

Gold and precious stones have always fascinated man. Classifiers of power, prestige, and status, gold and gems have increased their value when an artist crafts beautiful objects with them. This is what Greek jeweler Ilias Lalaounis (1920- ) has been doing since he entered the family business in the 1940s. His eponymous company was formed […]

Daniel Brush. Bowl with golden butterflies. © Thomaï Serdari.

Luxury is the opposite of anarchy. If anarchy defies organization, luxury welcomes it. If anarchy rejects stratification, luxury aspires to it. Anarchy objects to commitment, luxury stems from it. And while absence of luxury does not lead to anarchy, anarchy is prohibitive to luxury. In an art system that is highly organized and somewhat predictable, […]

Vogue cover with Belperron brooch, 1934. Courtesy of Vogue.

Suzanne Belperron (1900-1983) is known today as the jewelry designer who never signed her creations and who deliberately burned her personal papers and photographs–or at least, this is the myth created around her name. This version of history has been defeated with the monographic work on Belperron by French jewelry expert Sylvie Raulet. Belperron’s powerful […]

Fornasetti enamelled brown glass, 1937. Courtesy of Alexandre Biaggi.

Call it name-dropping, call it trend-setting, brand-cladding is an art for urbane New Yorkers. These global nomads, whether local or international, are well versed in the language of brands. They show a flare for branded apparel, define their lifestyle according to branded neighborhoods, and consume branded art by means of branded funds and trust accounts.  […]

Verdura cross. Courtesy of Verdura.

Most of our experiences today have become weightless. Think of a grocery list compiled by your electronic refrigerator and delivered to you. Or think of how cleverly your smart phone’s GPS allows your limousine driver to come pick you up from exactly where you stand at a click of a phone button. Don’t even think […]

Lapis Lazuli Desk Box. Courtesy of A La Vielle Russie, New York.

The infinite, the mysterious, and the inaccessible have always fascinated us. When combined with the clarity and beauty of a deep blue sky they provoke feelings of awe and desire. At least, that’s what we learn about the color blue specifically and the origins of our enthrallment with it in an article by Natalie Angier in […]

Depiction of a cabinet of curiosities on a print.

Is the epicenter of contemporary artistic creation shifting? New York City, a place of eternal social, creative, and urban renewal, seems to be losing its edge. Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum boasts a vast collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts, one that evolved from a cabinet of curiosities annexed to the National Treasury to a modern museum […]