Bvlgari: SerpentiForm

by Carol Lee

The snake epitomizes Seduction. Rebirth. Transformation. A powerful symbol of strength, renewal, and evolution. Potentially dangerous, feared, but revered.

Stories of the mystical snake have been told, and retold.

Recreated. Reinvented. Reimagined.

Across the passage of time, cultures, without boundaries.

In the 1940s, a small Roman jeweler harnessed the evocative strength of this symbol, and creatively translated it into supple bracelets in their watch designs.

This bold Roman jeweler, Bvlgari, now owns this unique icon like no other. A legitimacy earned through decades of creative reimaginations that captivated the world, and contributed to the international fame of the Maison.

This August, the Maison pays tribute to the Serpenti motif, through an exclusively curated display of over 150 exhibits, narrating the creative expressions by important names in modern and contemporary art, design, fashion, decorative arts and photography. This is also the first time that the Bvlgari Heritage Collection have travelled out of Rome.

The narrative unfolds over eight chambers. Enter the beginning of time, of precious antiquities: statues, of young Hercules strangling snakes, Osiris Chronokrater, from the 2nd century AD, and Buddha sheltered by the Naga Muchalinda, from the early 12th century.

  • Statue of Osiris Chronokrator (wrapped in the coils of the snake Aion, late 2nd - early 3rd century AD Musei Reali di Torino - Museo d'Antichita

True to the theme of the exhibition, move forward to the other chambers to explore the evolutionary expressions in modern and contemporary art by leading artists such as Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, Keith Haring, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jona Vasconcelos, Heri Dono, Motohiko Odani. To include masters of photography Robert Mapplethorpe and Helmut Newton.

  • Joana Vasconcelos, Electra, 2016 Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro faience painted with ceramic glaze, Azores crocheted lace

“All the world’s a stage”, offered Shakespeare. So, dress the part. Be awed by snake inspired costumes from prestigious theatre and cinema archives and vintage evening dresses by leading Italian fashion designers in the next dedicated chamber.

  • Original costume designed by Joseph Porro for the character of Ra worn by Jaye Davidson in the film Stargate, 1994. Courtesy of The Collection of Motion Picture Costume Design : Larry McQueen

And to close: special pieces from the Bvlgari Heritage collection.

  • Bvlgari Heritage Collection.

    Serpenti bracelet watches from left : gold with green enamel, emerald and diamonds, 1969.

    Right, top : gold with rubies and diamonds, 1954. Right bottom : gold with jade, rubies and diamonds, 1965.

The narrative is clear, the evolution is distinct: from the minimalistic stylized early creations with the Tubogas technique, to the realistic exquisitely gold-scales embellished, or enameled pieces.

I quote Mrs Lucia Boscaini, Bvlgari Brand and Heritage Director who curated this exhibition: “Through antiquity to modernity, change and evolution of the many forms of Serpenti, is the central theme of the exhibition.”

Catch the SerpentiForm exhibition from 19 August to 15 October 2017, at the Singapore Art Science Museum, before it journeys to its next destination in Tokyo.

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