IS CLOCKMAKING AN ART? OR ONLY SOME CLOCKS ARE ARTWORKS?

12 January 2021

Iris by Manolo Valdes (Courtesy of Opera Gallery) E
Images courtesy of Halcyon Gallery, Opera Gallery, Lorenzo Quinn, Manolo Valdes.

Pierre Maillard, is a journalist renowned for his interest in the cultural and social aspects of watchmaking. A member of the International Jury Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, he elaborates on the contradistinction between fine art (“art for art’s sake”) and utilitarian art (“applied art”, and “crafts”):

 

“The line between what is Art and what is not depends on the use that we make of the created product. A painting, a poem and a piece of music have no other object beside themselves. They are there to be seen, felt and heard. A watch, on the other hand, as beautiful as it may be, as close as it may be to an “objet d’art”, maintains its essential practical function, which is to tell the time. If it is sometimes “nearly” an objet d’art, it is nonetheless still a slave to the function that it was designed for. Herein lies all the difference.”

 

With a creative process which can invert “form follows function”, clocks can be closer to artwork than watches. Besides integrating fine arts (sculpture and painting), their cabinets can be created through a purely artistic process and become in and of itself. There are no limits to size and material, and the movement can follow suit by either being designed around the sculpture or even becoming part of it.