“This collection represents a lifetime of work,” Chervin, 95, said in a statement to the New-York Historical Society.
“I could choose what I made, when, and exactly how I wanted it. I was free from the limitations that naturally arise when you produce for a customer’s order.”
Born in Paris in 1927 to a Jewish family, he received his education at the prestigious Haute Ecole de Joaillerie in the French capital and emigrated to New York in 1951.
There, with another aspiring French jeweler, Serge Carponcy, and $2,000 in hand, he founded the Carvin French atelier in the heart of Manhattan, which for decades supplied jewelry to top names like Tiffany and Co., Van Cleef & Arpels , Cartier and Bulgari.
Chervin shuns public attention and does not give interviews.
“My father never envisioned this exhibition. In fact, it was not easy for me to convince him that there should be an exhibition at all,” his daughter and studio vice-president Carole Chervin told AFP.
‘He is a very personal man, humble, modest. He did all this work, like I said, as a passion… he wasn’t looking for publicity.”
In addition to brooches, bracelets, rings and earrings in diamond, sapphire, emerald, ruby, gold and silver, the exhibition will also showcase wonders of decorative arts produced by Chervin’s small workshop, which is still active to this day.
Below this is a boudoir lamp, entitled ‘My Heavy Heart’, consisting of a citrine heart mounted on an 18-carat gold wheelbarrow full of colored diamond flowers, and a bedside lamp ‘The Frogs’ Rubies’, made of ruby red plates.
There is also a strawberry bush with fruits cut from red coral with nephrite leaves.
These objects, first brought from Chervin’s home in New York, show that the artist has “a very close relationship and a very moving relationship with nature,” according to exhibition curator Debra Schmidt Bach. “He is a great admirer of nature.”
Chervin has been at the helm of Carvin French for 60 years, and according to Schmidt Bach, finding and cultivating talented artisans, many of them from abroad, has always been one of his strengths.
“Andre says that at times he felt like he was a conductor, conducting an orchestra with incredible talents and craftsmen with amazing skills,” she added.
New York was another key factor in Chervin’s success.
“The reason we were able to attract such a wonderful selection of jewelers, stone cutters and artisans is because it was in New York,” says Carole Chervin.
“It was a real United Nations full of talent, as my father says.”
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