At MUCEM, history goes on to show we’re following a golden thread
Text by: Charlotte Garlaschelli
It is early to state that gold is back in Vogue, but according to recent fashion collections the colour is dominating the catwalks in all its nuances, such as chrome yellow, citrine, honey, amber, jonquil, harvest, bronze and coppery gold. All these shades, however, are limited to the suggestion of something rich, captivating and precious. Beyoncè has once again astonished everyone with the nude opulence of her dress, a glittering gold gown created by Indian designers Falguni and Shane Peacock. Just a few years ago, Nick Knight photographed 38-year-old super model Kate Moss in a gold encrusted, bias-cut gown specially created by Alexander McQueen. Not to mention music: “Gold” was the lucky title of a song by Chet Faker, but before him there were Neil Young, Spandau Ballet, Kanye West, Fleetwood Mac just to mention a few names. Others, regardless of their song’s name, have encrusted their video with gold (Lorde), certainly not just because of its shiny qualities.
Gold has conquered the human eye starting from the ancient times and never really stopped mesmerising us. This material is at the heart of the most ancient mythological systems, appreciated for its rarity and malleability, which makes it perfect for coins and jewels. The particular way it shines in infinite variations of lighter and darker hues makes it linguistically perfect to define a shade (as opposite to blue or green). The Ancient Greeks used the word xanthos to describe yellow as luminosity, an adjective that was often attributed to golden curls as a symbol of youth and beauty. So much history of gold runs under the bridges of the Egyptians, the gold reserves in Bretton Woods and Uncle Scrooge’s ingots: even today gold remains a symbol of safety, well-being and luxury. A luxury that will last through the centuries, embedded in a shape that resists time and financial instabilities. A symbol of opulence and pleasure, gold has even enriched our food – remember Marchesi’s Gold leaf saffron risotto? – and drinks, such as the historic liquor Gold Wasser produced in Danzig.
Such an immense appreciation is perfectly sealed by the exhibition OR at MUCEM, Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseille, open from April 25 to September 10. A big show of historic and modern design pieces, contemporary art, recounting 3000 years of Euro-Mediterranean history through the use of this shiny material and colour. Archeological artefacts, such as ingots, death masks, ornaments, ritual objects, relics, but also films and documents and Modern Art and Contemporary Art masterpieces by the likes of Ossip Zadkine, Victor Brauner, Yves Klein, James Lee Byars, Louise Bourgeois, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Johan Creten and Liza Lou. This huge exhibition welcomes pieces from major museums around the world, such as the Louvres Museum, the Pompidou Center, the National Museum of Georgia (Tbilisi), the Archaeological Museum of Pella (Greece), the Cartier Foundation of Contemporary Art and many other institutions and museums of ancient and contemporary art.
The exhibition OR is sponsored by Christian Dior Parfums, famous for having chosen gold to represent its iconic perfume J’adore, associated to the famous sequinned gold couture dress worn by Charlize Theron for the advertising campaign. The exhibition will include this dress and a collection of the prestige editions of the legendary amphora. There will also be rare archive pieces, refined in gold and diamonds from the Dior fine jewellery ateliers, hand blown using traditional techniques by Baccarat glassmakers.