Wear A Masterpiece

Meet Louisa Guinness and Tiffany Dubin, the dynamic duo behind Sotheby’s East Hampton show of jewelry created by some of the world’s finest contemporary artists.


Tiffany Dubin, founding director of Sotheby’s fashion department, is overseeing the Sculpture to Wear show with Louisa Guinness. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

By Jim Servin

PURIST: How did the two of you join forces on this eclectic show, Sculpture to Wear, running at Sotheby’s in East Hampton from August 3-28?

TIFFANY DUBIN: I have followed Louisa from afar for many years. Being obsessed with Claude Lalanne’s jewelry, I saw Louisa at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Bought my first Lalanne necklace from her, and then ran around the rest of the show, gathering everybody at Sotheby’s and telling them what a rock star she is, and how we had to convince her to come to Sotheby’s and do a show.

LOUISA GUINNESS: And then we did a show in 2014 at Sotheby’s in New York. Tiffany helped organize that, and got lots of great collectors.

TD: We focused on three specific artists that Louisa represented: Anish Kapoor, Sophia Vari and Claude Lalanne. They sold like hotcakes.

LG: The genre is really growing; there’s a recognizable following who are building collections of artists’ jewelry, from Man Ray to Jeff Koons. It’s a very exciting time to be offering a large selection of high-quality works to people who haven’t been able to see anything for the past two years—certainly not this type of thing.

Man’s Ray’s 1970 gold necklace, created in the likeness of his iconic painting “Les Amoreux.”
Man’s Ray, “Les Amoreux,” 1932

PURIST: Louisa, you’ve said that many of the artists’ lack of formal training in jewelry-making brings a “welcome, instinctive rawness.”

LG: It’s much more about the message behind the jewelry than what it looks like, or simply enhancing the wearer’s beauty. I think the artist minds more about the message. The sculptors are not jewelers. They are not trained in the field, and approach jewelry from a conceptual perspective.

TD: The DNA of the artist shows through. That’s what I believe you’re really looking for. Anyone can buy something pretty, but not everyone can buy something that is not only beautiful but wearable and interesting—and will also, over time, appreciate in value.

PURIST: Alexander Calder is one of the artists whose work is being sold. Georgia O’Keeffe famously wore a pin created by him. 

LG: Calder would often make jewelry for friends. He didn’t use precious materials; he was never trained to be a jeweler. He just twisted wire. He had a hammer and pliers in his pocket all the time.

PURIST: Price range?

LG: $1,000 up to $100,000.

PURIST: Is there a piece you’d die to have?

TD: Oh god, it’s so difficult. I’m obsessed with Lalanne. It’s actually going to kill me when he sells—the bell I’m lusting over. And the apple earrings? They’re the last. I’ll never have the chance again!

LG: I like Anish Kapoor—the gold pendant comes with a little white box that you can put it away in, or view it as a small sculpture.

PURIST: What thrills you about offering these fine art pieces?

TD: Louisa quotes Oscar Wilde in her book: “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”   66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, sothebys.com