Continuing to expand its cultural universe, Jaeger-LeCoultre announces the latest instalment in its Made of Makers programme: a new collaboration with Brendi Wedinger, a Los Angeles-based multi-media artist recognised for her work in 3D digital arts, sculpture and floristry.
Expanding the Dialogue Between Watchmaking and the Arts
Through a series of collaborations with artists, designers and craftsmen from disciplines outside watchmaking, Made of Makers explores and extends the dialogue that naturally exists between horology and art. The programme focuses on artists who share Jaeger-LeCoultre’s values of creativity, expertise and precision, with nature at its core, exploring new forms of artistic expression through different and often unexpected materials and media. Like the watchmakers of La Grande Maison, these artists and innovators have a deep respect for the past as their creative foundation and a springboard for their trailblazing work. This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre further explores the world of contemporary art with an unexpected new collaboration.
A Distinctive Artistic Vision that Unites Nature with Technology
Based in Los Angeles, Brendi Wedinger is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer whose three-dimensional, digital artworks blur the boundary between real life and fantasy. Taking inspiration from nature as her primary theme – with an emphasis on biodiversity, sustainability and renewal, and a particular love of flowers – she combines various elements to form a new and surreal visual reality that is almost tangible, occasionally abstract, often highly sculptural, and always emotionally captivating.
While the virtual world of Brendi Wedinger’s art and the technical tools employed to create it, appear to be the antithesis of the organic world that she portrays, a strong affinity with traditional craftsmanship underpins her creative process. “Rather than using a computer programme to design the work from the outset, I always begin by using the technical tools to hand-sculpt the larger three-dimensional elements, such as the petals of a flower, and hand-draw the fine details. Once I have completed this stage, I use a lot of mathematical equations to create textures, transparency and layering effects,” she explains. “What drew me to the digital medium is that it gives me more tools to play with and a wider scope for experimentation, so that my work becomes a more expressive homage to nature rather than a literal representation of it.”
New 3-D Artworks Inspired by the Flora of the Vallée de Joux
For each Made of Makers collaboration, Jaeger-LeCoultre commissions an original work, inviting the artist to express a theme of interest to the Maison through their particular craft. Given Brendi Wedinger’s deep affinity with the natural world it was self-evident that the theme of the new work would be nature – one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s core values – and flowers, specifically.
Like all Made of Makers collaborators, before starting work on the commission Brendi Wedinger spent time at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home in the Vallée de Joux, discovering the crafts of watchmaking and exploring the natural world that surrounds the Manufacture. She combined elements from every aspect of the visit to create her new work – a series of three surrealistic flowers.
“Everything about that visit – from the wildflowers in the fields, to the incredible complexity and tiny scale of the watch components and the patience and skill of all the different craftsmen in the Manufacture – was like a romantic fantasy world, so far from the lightning-fast pace of modern life,” says Brendi Wedinger. “Aside from the natural beauty of the valley, I felt very inspired by the high-complication watches and the unique details you find in them. I wanted the flowers to be complex and one-of-a kind, like the watches, with all of the beauty and immense detail that can be found in both.”
Each of the three creations is an idealised homage to a variety of flowers found in the Vallée de Joux throughout the changing seasons, rather than a particular species that exists in nature. “When people look more deeply at each work, they will see that every element is recognisable and traceable to a natural flower, but I remixed and layered the details to emphasise their surreal nature,” Brendi Wedinger explains. Another important element of the commission was that the flowers should be (digitally) rendered in one of the precious metals used at Jaeger-LeCoultre, which creates a hyper-realistic illusion of the shadows and reflections created by light falling on polished gold, further amplifying the surreal effect. In creating this work, the artist has deliberately played with contrasting notions – the opposition between the organic softness of nature and the cold solidity of metal, the digital and the physical, the ephemeral and the static – adding subtle layers of tension and intrigue that heighten the emotional impact of each piece.
From Nature to Art…and Back to Nature
In a play on botanical tradition, the flowers have each been given official Latin names with formal English counterparts. Linking them back to the Maison’s history, Jaeger-LeCoultre has added an official name to each flower, which pays tribute to the Reverso’s year of origin. Thus, elements of poppy, alpine pasque and grass of parnassus have been combined to create Flos Montis Fluit (Flower of the Mountain Flows), known as the 1931 Golden Poppy. Poet’s daffodil, red hemp nettle and late spider orchid are blended to create Gemma Vallis (The Jewel of the Vallee), known as the 1931 Golden Orchid. For the third flower, water mint, scabious and fringed pink have been combined to create Rhapsodia Petalorum Alpinorum (The Rhapsody of Alpine Petals), known as the 1931 Golden Thistle.
Further blurring the lines between the real and surreal, Jaeger-LeCoultre commissioned a French plant breeder to identify a flower that closely resembles the form of the 1931 Golden Orchid and to breed a hybrid exclusively for the Maison. Named the 1931 White Orchid, it is a natural and physical representation of Brendi Wedinger’s art piece. The flowers – in both their physical and virtual forms – will become part of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s visual identity and seen in a wide variety of initiatives in the future.