Bijoux d'Artistes by Ateliers Hugo
François Hugo, "Homme d'Or" (Jean Lurçat)
François Hugo was born in 1899 in Rovezzano, Italy, the son of Georges Hugo, and great-grandson of Victor Hugo. During and after the Second World War, François Hugo designed and created buttons from non-precious metal and enamel for Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. Hugo made an attempt at producing jewellery before the War with André Derain, but it wasn't until he met Douglas Cooper that he began his first editions.
François Hugo in the atelier, in the countryside of Aix-en-Provence
Trained as an engineer, he was always attracted by the "workshop" and especially "designer tools", as he used to call them, in other words, tools he made himself for very specific purposes.
François Hugo is renowned world-wide for all the Bijoux d'Artistes that he produced with his friends Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Jean Arp, Jean Cocteau, Dorothea Tanning and many others. His work is present in many museums and often put up for auction.
The 'Bijoux d'Artistes'
The movement of François Hugo towards creating "bijou d'artiste" happened in a very different manner to other craftsmen. He never imagined he would be one day become the goldsmith of contemporary artists.
"Bijoux d'Artistes" editions, represented by Ateliers Hugo, are all limited editions as the artist sees fit. Each edition made by these artists includes two author and artist samples, numbered respectively 1/2 and 2/2.
All the artists François Hugo worked with were long-time friends. He established deep ties of friendship with the greatest artists of the 20th Century: Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp and André Derain.
In 1975, his son Pierre took over the Ateliers Hugo and contributed to work with more artists such as César, Arman, Corneille, Rondinone or Croes later on with the help of his son Nicolas. Together, they celebrated in 2020 the 65th anniversary of Ateliers Hugo with new collaborations upcoming such as Josh Sperling.
All the techniques that the Ateliers Hugo still use today to create their work are derived from ancient techniques. The modernisation of ancestral techniques mainly come from the manufacture of the moulds. The bronze moulds are used with 23 carat gold and the "repoussé-ciselé" technique invented by François Hugo and used ever since at Ateliers Hugo.
Year after year, from an artist to another, and from one challenge to the next, the Ateliers Hugo accumulated a number of details, tricks, and methods. The atelier makes special tools, ofter adapted to a single part of a job, harder steel to withstand long hours of repoussage. They call them their "designer tools".
The goldsmith Pierre Hugo, son of François Hugo and great-great-grandson of France's greatest writer, was not only the marvellous technician and master of precious metals, he also has the gift of poetry, communicating dreams and fantasies. He took the Ateliers Hugo into a mysterious and disturbing world, were the work of art is overtaken so the artist can fulfil his idealist dreams, "to soften men's hearts".
For all these reasons, Pierre Hugo's audience became international in 1975 and began to exhibit in the United States, in Holland, in Japan, in France at the Galérie Matignon and Artcurial..
Pierre et Nicolas Hugo in the atelier.
Today, forged by the knowledge of his father and the craftsmen of the workshop, Nicolas took over the Ateliers Hugo to perpetuate the family's know-how and develop new collections with the contemporary artists of his time.