Making Art in the Face of Eternity
Time has long been a subject that conjured up great art.
From charting the rhythms of nature in cave art to capturing the luminosity of sunrise or sunset to imagining allegories of the stages of life art has incorporated the passage of time as one of its great themes. Timepieces make a frequent appearance as muses. Salvador Dali’s famous The Persistence of Memory is sometimes referred to as simply Clocks. In Antonio de Perada’s Allegory of Vanity an ornate golden clock squares off against other markers of time a candlestick an hourglass, skulls, and time-worn books.
In the contemporary art and design worlds two industries that have become increasingly collaborative in recent years a new kind of relationship has been forged resulting in the ultimate intersection of art and time: the timepieces of Grand Seiko’s Nature of Time collection. These are made so painstakingly with beautiful embellishments precise details and carefully constructed movements that each one appears as a mini-work of art unto itself.
To celebrate its singular craftsmanship and Japanese heritage Grand Seiko Corporation of America has announced a continuation of its partnership with retailer Watches of Switzerland presenting a limited-edition timepiece gallery in Soho. Coinciding with the official opening of its retail store in the iconic New York neighbourhood the exhibition features the largest collection of Grand Seiko timepieces in the world in a space redefined for the individual luxury retail experience with personalised and safe service.
The timepiece gallery features eight “zones” where guests can learn about what makes the brand’s watches tick. One zone for instance will use innovative technology to illustrate how Grand Seiko’s mechanical, quartz, and Spring Drive movements come to be. In another guests will have the opportunity to experience the beautiful bars of Tokyo’s Ginza in the downstairs room known as the Takumi.
But the highlight of the “Nature of Time Experience,” as the show is called is the exhibition of timepieces itself. This includes all the boutique collections worldwide the recently released Watches of Switzerland exclusive Toge Special Edition GMT and limited-edition 60th Anniversary pieces. At its heart is the complete Nature of Time collection which pays tribute to Japan’s sublime seasonal beauty illustrated by each piece through its own distinct combination of design and movement. From the Risshun piece which celebrates the start of spring in early February to Daikan which suggests the rarified winter atmosphere of late January the collection is a unique tribute to the rhythms of one of the world’s most beautiful countries.
To celebrate this collection and its coinciding gallery exhibition—which can also be experienced through Grand Seiko’s immersive Nature of Time Experience online platform—here are five famous artworks that showcase how great artists have translated their own senses of time, evolution, and entropy into meaningful contemporary art.
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama—the reining queen of immersive installation art—originally created the interactive Obliteration Room for children. First staged, Kusama’s work inventively allows the public to come together to literally mark the passage of time. From the walls to the furniture it begins as an all white space. Over the course of several weeks each new visitor is given a round sticker and invited to place it where they will, completely transforming the environment over time.