Typhaine Le Monnier M.F.A.

Master-Thesis: "(next) next to nothing - Next to Roland Barthes theory on jewelry"

Supervision: Prof. Ute Eitzenhöfer, Prof. Eva-Maria Kollischan, Prof. Theo Smeets



The Venus study series 2015, is an illustration of an abstract Venus of Willendorf. A fertility goddess reduced to her physical essentials, whose curvilinear shapes where the body seems to overfow with ripeness are examples of accumulative, burgeoning mounds. They are derived depictions from the curves of the female body that follow certain artistic conventions on the lines of schematization and stylization. It is represented roughly as -shaped, with two tapering terminals at the top“head,” and the bottom “legs,” with the widest points in the middle as the“hips and belly.” Certain parts of the human anatomy are exaggerated: abdomen, hips, breasts, thights, and vulva. In contrast, other anatomical details are neglected or absent, especially the arms lozenge and feet. Inspired by this principle of emphasis and fragmentation I designed the Venus studies necklaces. They are marble fgures which give emphasis to the detail of the female breast as a symbolic fragment of femininity. The marble schematized breast demonstrate a certain geometrical severity. The objects combine depurate drawings together with the marble, in order to ironically refer to the ancient Greek statuary: an ideal, distant, cold perfection of the Greek female depiction. This abstract austerity is softened by the feshy colored biomorphic elastic band, given as a reference to womens lingerie and intimate objects that reveal a tangible anachronism between the intimate and the functional device. These two units become one, presented simultaneously as austere and intimate by combining an abstract purity to a more organic expressivity.
The necklaces involve variations and repetition in order to create a sense of unity

but also to demonstrate the natural diversity found within the many forms of the female body. This creates a dialogue between an abstraction from nature and an empathic identifcation with it.
The wearer ́s body becomes a crossroad between representations of intimacy and to some extent, a protest against a predominant vision towards women throughout art history and within the media. This aesthetic research aims to criticize a tendency for stereotypes and cultural infuences yet it also introduces a new perception toward femininity by representing the dismantled body fragments, as an “object-body”, given as an answer to the “body-object”.

By deconstructing the distant iconic ideal of the feminine body and disintegrating the symbol into a new portraying fgure, I have connected it with a further accurate vision of a multiform female body.

By questioning ornament as a vector, the 3 in 1 series refects a formal research on the poly faceted aspects of a jewels wear ability. Untitled n°1 and n°2 studies, present the stone as a structural element. The stone evolves toward the body with an economy of contact and a very light impact. The necklace becomes almost a prosthetic device, bringing emphasis to the wearer’s awareness by creating an unperceivable connivance between the wearer and the object. An “infra -mince” relationship can be found where the body appropriates the stone. The cold stone becomes warm after an acclimatized dialogue with the skin and heightens the perception of the wearer through this sensorial expression of a body /object interaction.


Roland Barthes was a french semiotician. He was interested in the process of signification, of the mechanisms by which meanings are produced and put into circulation, broadly defined, it is a “science” that studies the political life of signs within a particular time and place.

In 1967 Barthes published “The Fashion System”, it is a classic, complicated study of how the world of high fashion industry uses images and words to create an abstract world of fashionableness that must at once always change (in order to continue to sell new fashions) and always stay the same (also in order to continue to sell new fashions). in that context Barthes was brought to observe minutely every branches of the 60 ́s fashion industry, including jewelry, from the outgrowth of this study, emerged an essay published in 1961, in Le Jardin des Arts, untitled “ from gemstone to jewelry”.

this text is seen today as a referential and emblematic pillar which support and corroborate a certain theory on jewelry, especially in the field of “contemporary art Jewelry” which is desperately seeking for new perspectives and for any document which could officially accredited its identity. In 1961 Barthes writes down a proclamation of a new jewelry , he refers to a new kind of liberated jewelry that is democratic, secularized and free from conventions, opposed to an obsolete precious ornamental jewelry based on precept, such as exclusivity, monetary worth, status and manliness. Although “the contemporary art Jewelry” can embrace and recognize its-self in this conceivably prophetic theory, Barthes essay is about one specific segment of jewelry, that of libertarian costume jewelry and its democratized offspring. Knowing that Barthes was elaborating his “Theory of Fashion” by analyzing closely fashion magazine, he must have been acquainted to the work of the french paruriers of the 20 ́s to the 60 ́s who specialized in designing catwalk jewelry and commercial jewelry. Costume jewelry is a phenomenon

that has been extremely strong throughout the beginning of the twentieth century in France, due to the french fashion culture and industry. Paris was the center for costume jewelry, and This period is characterized by its liberal attitude towards materials, its high imaginative quality and experimental joy of making. this period was also crucial as an incubator for many exchanges between jewelry and art with no regards for category or hierarchy. Barthes refers to this period of costume jewelry and describe it as The moment when jewelry becomes part of the clothing , becomes a detail. Ín Barthes view, the jewel is an accessory, a thing that supports, not a thing in itself, not a singular magical object. Therefore Barthes calls a piece of jewelry “a next to nothing”1. according to Barthes “This next to nothing” has a significant power, precisely because it is detached from the clothing, it is exactly this that gives fashion meaning. This secularized, democratized and feminized, Detail with its ultimate power of signification. It is based on Barthes thought toward jewelry, that will be developed the following essay, if we refer to the hypotheses that costume jewelry and its offspring are the forefather of a new jewelry, we will analyze its legacy.

By Drawing a landscape of what comes (next) the next to nothing. Using Barthes theory as a platform to juxtapose, overlap, confront its patrimony, to its heritage or inherited pieces of jewelry, with no convention for time, space, or category, from high jewelry, designer jewelry, artist jewelry, to fashion jewelry and contemporary art jewelry. This expansion of the vision, is a tool against linearity in order to invent improbable associations, correlations or disrupted stories.

As André Malraux would assemble, disassemble, and reassemble montages of photographic reproductions to create“Le Musée imaginaire”, an imaginary museum, a “museum without walls”, a prescient manifesto of the digital age that enacts the displacement of the physical art object and the museum by photographic reproduction.and in locating explicitly the creative act in the process of assembling, grouping, and displaying works of art. Therefore those examples are open to variations and new translations.