Although it closes tomorrow, Jan. 7, the skull-heavy pieces of jewelry on view by appointment at Serge Sorokko Gallery are a bracing, haute-baroque counterpoint to all the forced cheer we survived through the entire month of December. To coincide with the 150th anniversary of Venetian jewelry makers Casa Codognato, the 50 pieces in Coveted: Jewels by Codognato are being shown outside the shop near the Piazza San Marco for the first time.
Worn by figures such as Carine Roitfeld (the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris), supermodel Kate Moss, and designer and filmmaker Tom Ford, Attilio Codognato’s works are as dark as a Satanic Black Mass and as finely wrought as something laid to rest in the sepulcher of a corrupt 16th-century pope. They’re arguably a step up in fabulousness from Elizabeth Taylor’s Ancient Egyptian-inflected Bulgari collection — although one piece, a gold skull with a jewel in one eye socket and a snake slithering out of the other, is a bit aggressive by the standards of Cleopatra.
Via email, SF Weekly asked Serge and Tatiana Sorokko about the exhibition.
What initially drew you to Attilio Codognato?
Tatiana: The striking individuality and originality, uniqueness, beauty, artistry, and instantly obvious timelessness.
Would you consider the pieces wearable, or most appropriately admired under glass?
Tatiana: The jewelry is absolutely wearable, but Codongato pieces are also true objets d’art, and thus can certainly be admired under glass. This absence of a distinction between jewelry and art is what makes Codognato’s works so desirable and collectable.
Is there an overtly religious meaning or symbolism behind the collection, or is it merely making use of a High Gothic or medieval aesthetic for visual effect?
Serge: The works are often rooted not so much in religion, but rather themes of Memento Mori, alchemy, Byzantine imagery and symbolism.
Are there any that stand out as particularly resonant with the times?
Serge: All works (much like all truly great art) are timeless — and to that end, all are resonant with the times today as much as when Casa Codognato was established 150 years ago.
“Coveted” seems to be a wink at covetousness (in the 10 Commandments sense) and also the deadly sin of envy. Is that coincidence or something deeper?
Tatiana: It’s not a coincidence. The jewels are literally coveted by many style-makers and trend-setters around the globe. The fact that not everyone can even buy Codognato, as Attilio is known to refuse to sell to some people — you can only guess why — speaks for itself. The “private club” of Codognato collectors is very exclusive, hence the phenomenon of covetousness.
Coveted: Jewels by Cordonato, at Serge Sorokko Gallery, 55 Geary St., 415-421-7770 or sorokko.com