The antique sessions, which today are called the Biennale of Antiquaries, were founded in 1962 by the Minister of Culture in the government of de Gaulle by the writer and philosopher Andre Malraux.
Despite the fact that the center participants in the sessions were, of course, first-class antiquarians, jewelers (and especially elegant French origin) joined the Paris exhibition of antiquities almost immediately – in 1964. But they didn’t exhibit then new collections, namely branded antique jewelery (in this case, the once famous expositions of the French house Chaumet, which began to exhibit its historical jewelry items one of the first, would be a good example).
The current Biennale is, on the one hand, an unconditional “week of diamonds” framed in classic or avant-garde forms. On the other hand, it is also obvious that modern jewelers are increasingly exploiting the topic of almost intimate closeness to the present, proven for centuries and decades of art (* For more information on the antique section and participating galleries, see p.). And they do it aggressively, the expansion increases with each new round.
Just look at the incredible increase in “precious areas” in the Grand Palais, where the Biennale. Back in the mid-2000s, jewelers were allowed to build a tiny (and I would like to say, a tent) small town at an antique exhibition; jewelry collections were displayed in very small pavilions, which in their size and decoration resembled VIP-shops of branded jewelry brands. Now is completely different.
So, in 2012, Karl Lagerfeld, who took up the design of the Biennale, created a piercing shopping arcade in the spirit of belle epoque. Each pavilion had its own role here: the mysterious guinol theater (Van Cleef & Arpels), the outlandish memorial apartment (Chanel), the savory boudoir of a flower woman in the spirit of Louis XVI (Dior), a decorative museum, where among the historical treasures shone brilliantly commenting on them novelties (Cartier), a cinema hall (like at the Bvlgari stand, on the walls of which shots of Elizabeth Taylor, the client and the main house muse, flashed on the walls). Over all the gigantic jewelry passage of the Lagerfeld design, a little poisonous (as a master can do) reminded of the lovely Parisian bourgeoisie of the end of the XIX century, not yet touched by wars and crises, the white-blue hot air balloon triumphed. The fact that the hot air balloon stood just above the jewelry areas of the Biennale, spoke for itself: it is the precious part of the exhibition that turns out to be more important for the mass public than the historical antiquarian section itself.
This year, the artist and decorator Jacques Grange was invited as a decorator in the Grand Palais. Monsieur Grange is known for his pleasant and in fact sincere, almost antique love for the respectable “highbrow” of French history, to which (Baroque, Rococo, Directory style, Empire) he adds works of art of the 20th century, especially the period of modernism. But historicism is always in the first place for him: under the careful guidance of Grange, the Grand Palais spaces will acquire scrupulous contours of the historic gardens of Versailles. For jewelers, such a ceremonial floral frame is extremely beneficial: after all, the floral theme, flower scenes are the most important in the historical and contemporary precious art.
The antique biennale is also an event of a cyclopean secular bourgeois scale, and the opening on the first day is given by the organizer of the exhibition, the French National Antiquaries Syndicate, functionaries of luxury goods, stars, and national policies of the right wing. Comrades socialists, who are now entrenched in power in France, on the contrary, are carefully avoiding the Biennale. In 2012, only Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, arrived at the party, whose dress code is a belligerent black tie, from the country’s current politicians (the press stressed that Mr. Minister arrived at a personal invitation, without at all pursuing any political goals ). In short, from the once quietest exhibition of sleepy defenseless antiquaries, meekly exhibiting French tapestries, Gallic coins, African primitive sculptures and Chinese porcelain, the Biennale turned into a furious glamorous parade of all the heartfelt achievements that the modern bourgeois with a fine soul, good taste and big wallet.
The Biennale attracts the hearts of many wealthy foreigners (the chairman of the National Syndicate, Christian Dedier, even had thoughts to make visiting biennials – for example, in Asia): for what reason? The Biennale, founded not by the latest French writer Andre Malraux, despite the grocery jewelery expansion into the strict ranks of archivists.