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Cartier Shines at the Etourdissant Exhibition

The Étourdissant Cartier exhibition this month will showcase new pieces alongside vintage collections

Cartier Shines at the Etourdissant Exhibition

“We have a mission to create but we also have a mission to share and to explain,” says Stanislas de Quercize, CEO of Cartier.
Since 1989, Cartier has invested a considerable part of its resources to hold some 33 retrospective exhibitions in famous institutions globally, including the Museum of Hermitage in St Petersburg, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum in London and most recently, at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2013.
While these exhibitions were always open to the general public, they only displayed vintage Cartier creations consigned by private clients, or that belonged to the Cartier Collection, a carefully curated treasure trove of historically important jewellery pieces owned by the Maison.
New collections were not included in these shows. Instead, they were launched in private affairs, such as the one we were invited for: For a few glorious days in July, Cartier showed off its new Étourdissant Cartier collection to a select group of VIPs and international press at a private villa nestled somewhere between Cannes and Antibes.
Sixty pieces of the brand's new 120-strong high jewellery collection were then presented. The other 60 pieces will be revealed in Singapore in late October, as part of a ground-breaking exhibition at the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris Art gallery.
The exhibition, which will showcase 600 pieces, will be the first time Cartier is showing its contemporary creations at an exhibition of this scale. (The Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris, which takes place once every two years, is perhaps the closest Cartier has come to showing its new products to the public. That being said, those pieces were exhibited in a much more conservative scale and within the context of a fair.)
Significantly, for the first time, new pieces are being shown alongside vintage creations in a public exhibition — and it's all available for sale. Cartier is inviting some 600 guests from around the world and the public will be able to view the stunning creations on October 31.
On the choice of venue, de Quercize says: “The location is devoted to art and I believe that Cartier jewellery and watches are works of art that need to be exhibited in surroundings that were created specifically for art appreciation.”
Gregoire Blanche, regional managing director for Cartier Southeast Asia and Australia, elaborates: “Pinacothèque has an approach to art that resonates well with what we are doing with our exhibition. Their principle is to be more than just a museum, but to be able to share with a broad public what art is about. They don't have a dogmatic approach to art.”
Blanche also shares that this will be the second time his team has collaborated with the art gallery, the first being a private VIP dinner at the gallery's pop-up exhibition two years ago. “I am always told: ‘Your history is fabulous but we would also like to see more of what you're doing today!' I think when we create, we need to explain to the clients, jewellery connoisseurs and the public who are interested in jewellery what jewellery is about…to understand the vocabulary, style, craftsmanship and stones that revolve around jewellery,” says de Quercize.
Blanche concurs: “Jewellery carries an emotion of a historical nature because of who it once belonged to, who it was gifted to or who it was inspired by. [These factors] play a major role in how we value jewellery today.”
He cites the example of the Romanov bracelet that was revealed at the launch in France, which is festooned with a 197.80-ct Ceylon sapphire that once adorned Maria Feodorovna, Russia's last Tsarina. Originally mounted on a brooch and then in 1929, as a pendant by Cartier when it was bought by singer Ginna Walska, the sapphire was reacquired by Cartier in 2014 and is presented on a bracelet today.
As for why Singapore was chosen to host this unprecedented exhibition, Blanche revealed that the city state's golden jubilee celebrations played a major role.
“We could have done a limited-edition item or a flurry of commercial ventures but that was not what we had in mind. It would be much more meaningful if we could project the richness, diversity and multiculturalism of Singapore on an international scale to our VIP clients from all over the world,” he says.
“In addition, every Cartier creation has an artistic element behind it. Having the ability to bring 600 unique pieces to one location and opening it to the public is very significant. It is also our way of celebrating Singapore's 50th birthday.”
The pieces will be organised around Cartier's artistic themes, such as the flora, fauna and geometric expressions.
The exhibition will also include the Cartier Tradition collection, which comprises historical pieces that have been restored by the Maison for resale.
“Let's not forget that there is also a commercial element to this exhibition,” says Blanche.
So if you've always loved — but never managed to get your hands on — Cartier's coveted Tutti Frutti or art deco creations, this might just be your lucky break.
Étourdissant Cartier will be opened to the public from 10am to 6pm on October 31, 2015