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Repossi / Robert Mapplethorpe Relic Necklace with "Ajitto," 1981; © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, courtesy of Artestar, New York and Repossi.
Courtesy of Repossi.
Photo by Jeremy Everett, courtesy of Repossi.
Photo by Jeremy Everett, courtesy of Repossi.
Photo by Ben Rosser/BFA.com, courtesy of Repossi.
Courtesy of Repossi.
Photo by Valerie Santagto, courtesy of Repossi.
Photo by Valerie Santagto, courtesy of Repossi.
Repossi / Robert Mapplethorpe Relic Necklace with "Ajitto," 1981; © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, courtesy of Artestar, New York and Repossi.
Lifestyle

The House of Repossi Unveils Act II with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

By Erica Silverman

May 20, 2022

This spring, Italian jewelry house Repossi extends its ardent artistic collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, presenting a tribute collection energized by the artist’s unique photography and jewelry creations. Now, after three years of intensive research and development by Creative Director Gaia Repossi, the jewelry maker unveils Act II with 11 finely-crafted and cutting-edge pieces (Repossi/Mapplethorpe Act I launched in 2021).

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Photo by Ben Rosser/BFA.com, courtesy of Repossi.

A decade ago, Repossi acquired a work titled, Puerto Rico (1981) by Mapplethorpe, and it has been a pillar of inspiration in her design studio ever since, while informing much of the house’s visual communication. When the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation approached Repossi to reinterpret the American photographer’s work, she accepted with passionate drive, knowing she could use the technical expertise of the house’s workshops to create an exceptional high jewelry reinterpretation.

“The Mapplethorpe Foundation invited me to create jewelry influenced by the jewelry pieces Robert Mapplethorpe made with beads and found objects early in his career. I was able to access his entire archive of jewelry and jewelry materials at the Getty Research Institute. This collection is a tribute to his genius aesthetic and the beautiful items he assembled,” said Repossi. 

Open Gallery

Photo by Valerie Santagto, courtesy of Repossi.

Open Gallery

Photo by Valerie Santagto, courtesy of Repossi.

Repossi had the opportunity to explore over 150 of the artist’s references in the archives of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in New York. Necklaces made of “bits of nothing” as the artist called them—shells, pearls, crab claws, nails, dice, and engine parts to name a few—were assembled between 1965 and 1968. Mapplethorpe’s then muse and companion, fellow artist Patti Smith, donned his creations. Repossi also researched the photographer’s drawings, collages, and three-dimensional works. She made certain to preserve what she calls the “lateral symmetry” of Mapplethorpe’s artistry: the accumulation and balance of volumes, and the play of contrasts. 

The Act II collection launches with 11 striking pieces sectioned into six themes, the names of which refer to a key element of each design and the major themes in the work of the artist: Dagger, Black x Cross, Bullseye, Relic, Chain, and American Eagle.

Throughout many months of investigation and correspondence, Repossi worked hand in hand with the technical experts in the brand’s workshops. In homage to the authenticity and philosophy of art and beauty in the originals, each and every design in the collection embodies a supreme level of detail and intricacy. All pieces have been formed, assembled, and polished by hand in France and Italy, with respect to tradition and the excellence of the Place Vendôme.

Open Gallery

Photo by Jeremy Everett, courtesy of Repossi.

Open Gallery

Photo by Jeremy Everett, courtesy of Repossi.

Repossi reworks the nail, which evokes by its shape a dagger, an object that Mapplethorpe staged in his photographs, into white and black gold rings of abstraction, asymmetry, and stacking. The cross, a biblical symbol and important reference in the artist’s work, was noted by Repossi, who adopted the artwork title Black X cross into her reinterpretation as a tribute. The way in which the gold knots the cross of the resulting pendant, as well as the black color, pay respect to the underground BDSM culture in the work of the artist. The opposite side of the pendant, a burgundy lacquer, alludes to Mapplethrope’s challenging side.

With the bullseye, Repossi considered the intimacy of the art of Mapplethorpe. His works featuring homosexual eroticism and love, a mainly hidden culture, redefined photography and proved to be classic art. In unisex pendant and ring form, mirror-polished white gold echos the  classicism of the artist’s black and white photographs. The relic necklace, composed of 7 different colors of gold, various patina finishes and precious metals, was inspired by the diverse assemblies of the artist. 

The chain necklace uses remnants from the custom chain of the Act I collection, just as Mapplethrope used jewelry from existing elements of his creations. In his style of accumulated necklaces, Repossi presents the chains of yellow and white gold, set with hundreds of diamonds, with two ways of wearing. Finally the eagle motif, an extension of the Americana theme prominent in the artist’s work, is reenvisioned by Repossi in white gold and diamonds, as a treasurable decorative American Eagle necklace.

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Repossi.

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Repossi.

Open Gallery

Repossi / Robert Mapplethorpe Relic Necklace with "Ajitto," 1981; © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, courtesy of Artestar, New York and Repossi.
GagosianGaia RepossiRepossiRobert Mapplethorpe

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