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EXHIBITION - DIALOGUES ON VANITAS Transience and Reverie on Contemporary Italian Jewelry

On the occasion of the New York City Jewelry Week, Adornment is pleased to present Dialogues on Vanitas, an exhibition on contemporary Italian jewelry that includes some of the most important artists in the sector. The exhibition will be held at Maison Gerard from November 19th until November 23rd.

Vanitas, in painting, is a still life with symbolic elements alluding to the theme of the transience of life. The name derives from the biblical phrase vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas, (vanity of vanities, all is vanity) and, just like a memento mori, is a warning about the ephemeral condition of existence.

The exhibition takes up this specific meaning and stages the contributions, at the same time soulful and engaging, of artists such as Barbara Paganin, Paolo Marcolongo, Lavinia Rossetti and Lilla Tabasso. It will also feature a four hands special series made by Lilla Tabasso and Antonia Miletto, realized as part of the major collaboration project called Sympathy and just presented in Venice on the occasion of The Venice Glass Week.

The languages, particular to each of them, mix up to create a choral set of narratives around themes such as the passage of time, the dynamics of remembering and of memory, the transience of life and the symbolism of dreams.

Lavinia Rossetti, Madeleine 015, From the series Madeleine, Necklace, Pomellè wood, Ebony wood, 18kt gold, Photo Lucy Plato Clark.

From the poignant beauty of the tumbling flowers of Lilla Tabasso, characterized by hyperrealism and extreme naturalism, to the fantastic compositions of fragments of memory by Barbara Paganin, passing through the poetic correspondence amongst objects, memories and feelings characteristic of the Madeleine series by Lavinia Rossetti, to finish with the more abstract, conceptual and minimal works of Paolo Marcolongo, a process of progressive emotional and psychological rarefaction is produced.

Intimate expressions of personal and unique experiences, the jewels open up visual scenarios that go well beyond adornment, transporting to fantastic and unconscious dimensions. These jewels are soulful on the one hand, narrative on the other. They reveal correspondences, recount the past and offer themselves as a gift to those who are united in a symbolic relationship.

In addition, the exhibition is also intended to express the value and high quality of execution belonging to the Italian artistic and craft tradition, expressed through contemporary jewelry.

Lilla Tabasso, Peonies, 2019, Necklace, Gold thread, Murano Glass; Barbara Paganin, Open memory n. 7, Brooch, 2011-2013, Silver, porcelain element, yellow sapphire, gold, Photo Alice Pavesi Fiori.


The series Memoria Aperta (Open Memory) by Barbara Paganin is perhaps one of the most studied, admired and observed works in the history of contemporary jewellery. The narrative richness and poetic density condensed in these creations make it difficult to give a quick description. Barbara has created a multi-faceted exercise, which ascribes to the object the evocative capacity of memory, both individual and collective. Memory is open because it is shared, because the objects, photos, all the elements combined within these small frames of memories, tell a story that is ours, the story of each one of us. The suggestive power of memory is symbolically guided by the presence of small recurrent objects, such as the shoe, the cabbage, mice, various pets, photographs, which tell of intimate family scenes, habits, perfumes, childhood rituals, and of suspended time.

Barbara Paganin, Open memory n. 4, Brooch, 2011-2013, Oxidized silver, photograph with frame, glass, porcelain, tourmalines, gold; Open memory n. 6, Brooch, 2011-2013, Oxidized silver, porcelain, part of watch, ebony, coral, morganite, gold, Photo Alice Pevesi Fiori.

In the latest and unpublished works, Paolo Marcolongo further refines the complex relationship between metals and glass developed in both the construction of the pieces and in the aesthetic results. Workmanship techniques belonging to the glassmaking tradition and the goldsmith's art are combined in order to achieve unique and incredible results, in an ancestral, mythological, almost archetypal dialogue between color, transparency, weight and form. Nature blossoms in both its sensuality and danger, on the one hand expressed by precious metals which are at times stinging, sharp, edgy, thorny, on the other in the feminine voluptuousness of the softness of glass that explodes in a tormenting struggle for freedom.

Paolo Marcolongo, Untitled, 2019, Brooch, Silver, Bronze, Murano Glass; Incontro – scontro, 2019, Ring, Silver, Niello, Red Pigment; On the road, 2019, Ring, Silver, Murano Glass, All Photos Francesco Barasciutti.

The Madeleine series by Lavinia Rossetti pays tribute to the typical French desserts that introduce the theme of involuntary memory in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. In this work Lavinia addresses the difficult theme of recollection and the dynamics of memory, between the past, where memory resides, the present, where memory manifests itself, and emotion, where memory takes form.

A set of necklaces and brooches made from pieces of wood, the material chosen for this series of works, which, in its designs, guards memory, marks time and preserves its passage. In a formal sense, the complementary connection between the oval of the jewel and the box that contains it, tells with perfect immediacy that spontaneous and natural moment of the emergence of recollection, like a distant perfume, a nuanced correspondence, the union between memory and reality.

Lavinia Rossetti, Madeleine 020, From the series Madeleine, Necklace, Pomellè wood, Silver, Photo Federico Cavicchioli.

The artistic experimentation of Lilla Tabasso focuses on a passion for nature combined with the great technical ability of working with glass, both blown and modelled “a lume.” Her work is not only characterised by an extremely rare, perfect and impeccable formal execution, but is also measured by the impossible and romantic task of representing the passing of time, the fading life, the falling petal, the withering body. Delineating the supreme beauty of that moment, impossible to grasp, in which it finds itself at its maximum expression only to then slowly fade away. Hyperrealistic and conceptual art, Lilla’s flowers possess an incredible variety of shades, colours, mutations and imperfections.

Lilla Tabasso, Scabiosa, 2019, Necklace, Silicone, Murano Glass.

In the four-handed work created with Antonia Miletto, and recently presented in Venice on the occasion of The Venice Glass Week, Lilla Tabasso measures up to a new challenge in the relationship between glass, wood and precious materials. In the three small masterpieces - Rosa Canina, Violette and Mughetto (Dog Rose, Violets, and Lily of the Valley) - united under the name of Sympathy by virtue of the unprecedented collaboration, Antonia and Lilla have combined their two personal creative approaches and specific aesthetic sensibilities to achieve creations of a poignant beauty. The delicacy of the glass flowers is enhanced by precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. The elegant wooden structure, complemented by a thin gold grille, protects the glass as if in a small symbolic cage, in an impossible attempt to hold back the ephemeral beauty of life and suspend the passage of time.

Lilla Tabasso e Antonia Miletto, From the series Sympathy, 2019, Violets, Ebony wood, lamp glass, diamonds, 18kt yellow gold; Dog Rose, Ebony wood, lamp glass, colored sapphires, 18kt yellow gold; Lily of the Valley, Ebony, lamp glass, emeralds, 18kt yellow gold, leather.

DIALOGUES ON VANITAS Transience and Reverie on Contemporary Italian jewelry

On the occasion of New York City Jewelry Week

Maison Gerard 53 East 10th Street New York, NY 10003

Reception on Thursday, November 21st from 5 to 7 pm

Opening Time From November 19th until November 23rd Tue - Sat, 10 am - 6 pm

FOR INFORMATION Ilaria Ruggiero Founder and Curator A/dornment Curating Contemporary Art Jewelry Ph. +39 347 93 96 300 Email:



A/dornment - Curating Contemporary Art Jewelry is a curatorial integrated project dedicated to contemporary art jewelry. It relies on the professionalism of a composite team coming from contemporary art and design. It aims to develop the knowledge and consciousness of contemporary jewelry as artistic discipline as well as ground search for technique, aesthetics and philosophy. @adornment_artjewelry


New York City Jewelry Week, held from November 18-24, is the first and only local week dedicated to promoting and celebrating the world of jewelry. NYCJW provides access to the multifaceted jewelry industry through ground-breaking exhibitions, panel discussions led by industry experts, exclusive workshop visits, heritage-house tours, innovative retail collaborations, and other unforgettable one-of-a-kind programming created by the best and brightest in the industry. This year NYCJW will include over 130 events taking place in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Visit the website for the full schedule: @nycjewelryweek


Founded in 1974, Maison Gerard specializes in fine French Art Deco, 20th century, and contemporary design, furniture, lighting, and objects d’art. The gallery has been instrumental in building numerous private and public collections, notably the collection of Walter Chrysler Jr. (now housed in the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA), and the Design Collection of the Utsonomia Museum in Japan. @maisongerard

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