The most important employee for Cartier in Shanghai is a quiet, modest lady with a rag. It is her job to keep the exhibition cabinets clean and transparent, and that sounds a lot easier than it is when inside these cabinets are the finest watches, clocks and objects of art that Cartier has created throughout its long and fruitful history. It goes almost without saying that the many visitors of the exhibition, myself included, kept this lady busy…..very busy!
The setup of the exhibition is a clever one, because it will serve as an excellent first introduction into the world of Cartier, as well as truly pleasing the more seasoned Cartier connoisseur. Brought together under the supervision of Tokujin Yoshioka, it is not only a time travel in which you especially see Cartier’s development in wristwatches, because the exhibition also submerges you into the many, many decoration techniques that Cartier has deployed over the years.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most about the Time Art exhibition was that they kept it chronological. You start with some of Cartier’s earliest clocks and work your way through the history to the more modern day creations.
After showing a large portion of Cartier’s history, they also tell the story of how more modern day watches came to life. For example how the unique dial of the Ballon Bleu Parrot has been crafted out of flower petals, or the Rotonde de Cartier Panther with granulation. The mechanical side of the brand is shown with the display of the almost complete Fine Watchmaking Collection. Here the exhibition focuses your attention more towards the movement and how those mechanical marvels came to life.
It is only then that you realize that Tokujin Yoshioka has used the past and the present to ultimately take you to the future; hidden behind a curtain of white strings, are the ID One and ID Two, both on display in a single sculpture. These two prototype watches represent the future of Cartier, partly a promise of what we as clients can expect from the brand, partly a showcase of how far Cartier has traveled in a technically in the last decade.
The place of the Time Art exhibition is also quite unique. The Power Station of Art was until 2007 a fully functional coal power plant, located on the banks of the Huangpu river that curves through Shanghai. An extensive overhaul turned the facility into China’s first 3-star Green building as it became the center of the 2010 Expo, where it served as the Urban Future Pavilion. After the Expo the decision was made to turn the building into mainland China’s first public museum of contemporary art. Being an industrial building of origin, its large ceilings and walls indeed serve as a beautiful canvas for a wide variety of contemporary art.
Before entering the buzzing, enchanting metropolis that Shanghai is, out of this realm of art, a stop at the gift shop is of course mandatory to pick up a copy of “Time Art”, the book REVOLUTION’s own Jack Forster wrote especially for this unique exhibition. Not only the perfect souvenir but for those who traveled from abroad also the perfect way to kill a couple of hours in the plane!
Time Art will be at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai until October 12, 2014
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics