Talk about vintage: Barbara Levy Kipper gifts The Art Institute with a dazzling collection of ancient jewelry and ritual objects.
The Art Institute’s Regenstein Hall is in full-on glamour mode, glimmering with gilded crowns, bejeweled baubles, and other opulent ornaments for its latest exhibition, Vanishing Beauty. A gift from Art Institute life trustee and accomplished photographer Barbara Levy Kipper, the collection comprises nearly 400 pieces of jewelry and ritual objects from Asia’s oft overlooked Mongolian and Tibetan cultures. “Much of our collection is built on the better-known aristocratic or empirical traditions of Asian art,” says Madhuvanti Ghose, Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art. “We’re looking forward to showcasing the more marginalized tribal and nomadic cultures.”
While they may have been underrepresented in the past, these societies’ pieces are impossible to overlook, displaying incredible craftsmanship and intricate design. Take the brilliantly badass oracle diadem: The crown, which Ghose says once belonged to an oracle medium for use in sacred rituals, is decked out in skulls and flames, and encrusted with turquoises, said to hold mystical healing and protective powers. The married woman’s headdress is equally impressive, with its filigreed silver base and long net of corals—but what’s perhaps even more striking is that, according to Ghose, nomadic women wore the lavish headdresses while migrating across the deserts and plains of Mongolia. Now that’s traveling in style. On display June 19-August 21, The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600