Earlier this year, jewelry designer David Yurman announced his Young Artist Prize, which was recently awarded to Lila Reynolds, a student at Otis College of Art and Design. As part of the prize, her sculpture will be displayed at David Yurman stores in the fall, and Yurman will teach a master class at Otis in the fall. Here, we catch up with Yurman to discuss his own roots as an artist and the integration of the two fields.
For generations, there have been artists who have created jewelry. This month Hauser & Wirth opened an exhibition of wearable objects commissioned from fifteen artists. What do you think about this line of exploration?
I love the marriage of sculpture and jewelry, it is at the root of what we have been doing since Sybil and I founded this business. As a sculptor, of course I appreciate the craft in this exhibition and this dramatic portrayal of wearable art.
With fears of a loss of funding for the arts reaching new levels, it seems your timing couldn’t be better to launch this program. Was that a coincidence?
Supporting the arts has always been important to me, because mentorship was so important in my career. Both Sybil and I studied and practiced under such talented artists. Sharing their craft was what inspired and drove us in sculpture and painting, and to this day drives our designs. It is a shame that the arts are losing funding like this, and the idea of mentorship is so important to us, it certainly influenced us to establish this Young Artist Prize. It was equally important for us to provide a master class as well to reach more students. We truly understand the value of a well-rounded arts program and are proud to have an initiative that can keep inspiring students across the country an allow them to go after their dreams.
When you were embarking on your career as an artist, what kind of support did you have?
I began apprenticing when I was a teenager, I learned from artists like Jacques Lipschitz, Ernesto Gonzalez, Hans Van de Bovenkamp and Theodore Rozack. In fact, Sybil and I met in Hans Van de Bovenkamp’s studio in 1969. I have a lot of people to thank for my training. My art background taught me to achieve a successful melding of beautiful design and structure. This business has grown as a result of it. At the root of it all is our love of artistry and craftsmanship. Essentially, I’m still sculpting today the way I was in ’69… just smaller items for a larger audience.
Did you find it necessary to turn to a more applied art, such as jewelry, in order to “make it”?
It would be untruthful to say that I didn’t have aspirations to be successful. But to answer your question, no. I have been creating both sculpture and jewelry from the first time that I picked up a torch.
Which contemporary artists are you most interested in?
I’m really drawn to Brice Marden’s paintings, they are of the Minimalist nature, but there is a strong representation of structure and abstraction, which I appreciate as a sculptor. I am also very interested in the works of Cy Twombly and Albert Paley. Twombly’s energy resonates so strongly through his work. And of course Paley works with such a vast scale, I’m always interested to see how his work translates throughout the mediums he works in.