“Jewelry is the world’s oldest art form, predating cave paintings by tens of thousands of years,” states the exhibition’s introductory wall text. The distinction between fine art, craft, and fashion is conveniently blurred in this bold statement — isn’t clothing an art form? It likely predates jewelry — but the notions that humans used their bodies as the first canvases is certainly intriguing. Unfortunately, the exhibition doesn’t continue with this level of curatorial boldness. Instead, Transformed is divided into blandly broad thematic sections: The Divine Body; The Regal Body; The Transcendent Body; The Alluring Body; and The Resplendent Body. These categories are too vague — and in the case of “alluring” and “resplendent,” too alike — to provide a stimulating organizational lens. The strength of the show therefore resides in its dazzling individual objects — including ear ornaments, necklaces, nose rings, headdresses, and other baubles — whose function and effect often transcend the stated thematic categories.
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