22kt and 18kt Gold Longchain, Noma Copley, designed as thick gold chain turning into bicolor gold braided links, the clasp set with a cabochon yellow gemstone framed by ropetwists, ropetwist terminals, 74.3 dwt, lg. 41 1/2 in., marked.
Note: This longchain was handmade by Noma Copley on commission from Joan Sonnabend. Noma Copley (1916-2006) had no formal training in metalsmithing and did not begin making jewelry until she was fifty years old. Of her work, Copley stated, "Surrealist inspired and influenced I, for a long time, tried to transform the everyday, the common objects, that are taken for granted into poetry to wear."
Note: Property from the Estate of Joan Sonnabend, lots 260-402.
Joan Sonnabend opened her tiny gallery at the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1973. She started with a 100-piece collection of "sculptures to wear". Included in the pins, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, were works by such artists as Man Ray, Pol Bury, Picasso, Arp, and Calder. She was never a jeweler, but an art dealer. From the time she graduated Sarah Lawrence with an art degree, she always knew she wanted to open a gallery. After opening Sculpture to Wear, many artists sought her out to create items for the gallery. She became friendly with many of them, and maintained these relationships for many years. In 1973, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, mounted a show called "Jewelry As Sculpture as Jewelry." The intent of the show was to elevate body ornament to the level of art. It showcased artists and jewelers who were especially interested in using various and unconventional materials. Joan Sonnabend's gallery at the Plaza was in part responsible for the exhibition and the creation of a market for artists' jewelry. For me personally, Joan opened my eyes to the interplay between jewelry, sculpture, adornment, and art. She always believed in the power of art and remained an art dealer until her passing.