12 October 2021

Phillips Flawless Presents New Modernism, A Selling Exhibition in Collaboration with Vivarium by Vivienne Becker

Phillips Flawless Presents New Modernism, A Selling Exhibition in Collaboration with Vivarium by Vivienne Becker


Featuring Jewellery from 16 Designers in Celebration of the Centenary of the Modernist Movement




Alexander Calder

Brass and steel wire coil pin with laminated original handwritten letter signed by Alexander Calder, circa 1939

Price: US$162,000



Fabio Salini

Necklace in carbon fibre, double row of South Sea cultured pearls and rondelles in white gold and diamonds

Price: US$52,000


12 October 2021 – Following the success of WOMAN TO WOMAN, Phillips Flawless is delighted to present the next in our series of online selling exhibitions in collaboration with Vivarium by Vivienne Becker, entitled New Modernism. Open from 12 October to 12 November, this selling exhibition will feature 27 lots by 16 modernist designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Highlights include a 1930s pin designed by Alexander Calder, exceptional pieces from Aldo Cipullo and Dinh Van who were designing for Cartier in the 1970s, and contemporary pieces from jewellers such as Fabio Salini, Atelier Zobel, and Studio Renn. New Modernism spotlights today’s shift towards a new abstract modernist design theme in contemporary jewellery and showcases the strengthening connection between jewels and art. 


Paul Redmayne, Head of Private Sales, Jewellery, Phillips, said, “We are very excited to launch New Modernism which showcases the various expressions and iterations of Modernism within jewellery since its birth in the 1920s   through to today where we are seeing a parallel mood and mood to away from figurative and naturalistic jewels, away from dégradé pavé work and storytelling, towards powerful, abstract compositions of line, form and colour.”


Vivienne Becker said, “Over the past few years, I’ve watched as a new, graphic, modernist jewellery style has emerged, a seismic shift away from figurative fantasies, responding to changes in today’s world, technological advances, the meeting of science and art. It’s reminiscent of the original 1920s Modernism, and of the 1970s movement, which gave me the idea for New Modernism. A theme that also fits with our joint mission, at Phillips Flawless and Vivarium, to bring the best of contemporary jewellery into the art world.”


Leading New Modernism is a 1939 brooch handmade from brass wire by Alexander Calder, who is widely regarded as one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century. Calder brought the same genius for design to his jewellery that he did to his sculptures and worked for the major part in brass and silver. The pieces of jewellery he designed were all one-of-a-kind and never intended for further editions or multiple productions. This brooch is accompanied by a laminated original handwritten letter signed by the artist and dated 18 December 1939.


Following the emergence of Modernism in the 1920s and 1930s, the style surfaced again in the late 1960s prompted by the growing popularity for Art Deco style as much as by the advances made towards space exploration during that period, and the subsequent trend for the futuristic fashions of Courrèges, Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne. In England, a modern design movement led by individual designer-jewellers such as Andrew Grima nurtured a new rebellious style of jewelry design: organic, free-form, hyper-natural, characterised by rugged textured gold, and set with rough crystals. Around the same time in New York, Italian-born designer Aldo Cipullo rocked the status quo and captured the pulsating beat of New York in the 1970s with his resolutely modernist hard-edged, hardware-inspired jewels for Cartier, most famously the Love bracelet. New Modernism features pieces by Cipullo and Dinh Van, the only two designers ever allowed to sign their works created for Cartier.


Today we are also seeing contemporary designers inspired by the fast-changing, forward-looking world around them. They are exploring non-traditional and cutting-edge materials such as concrete and carbon fibre in their jewels. High-tech processes are being used and barriers – both aesthetic and artisanal – are being smashed by these modern-day groundbreakers. Featured in New Modernism is a collection in carbon fibre, diamonds and cultured South Sea white pearls created by Rome-based designer Fabio Salini whose powerfully graphic, stylised designs, play with material, form, light, movement, and colour. Salini’s work is underpinned with profound and considered concepts. It is this element of meaning and message, that both connects his jewels to 1920s Modernism and also sets them firmly in the 2020s.