Diana Widmaier-Picasso is much more than a descendant of Pablo Picasso. The art historian, writer and curator has strived to preserve her grandfather’s artistic legacy, but she is also an entrepreneur.
Widmaier-Picasso, 47, is the co-founder of Menē, a jewelry company specializing in 24-karat gold pieces, each sold by the gram.
Founded in 2017, Menē (pronounced: “meh-nay”) is inspired by the oriental jewelry market (China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East), where jewelry is sold transparently by weight. His company is the first to popularize it in the West.
Widmaier-Picasso, whose grandmother was Marie-Thérèse Walter, often referred to as Picasso’s muse, co-founded the company with her friend Roy Sebag. At Mene.com, customers can buy, sell and trade their jewelry by weight for gold and platinum. Anyone who makes a purchase from the Menē website can monitor its value at any time, which is updated to reflect market prices in real time.
A leader in jewelry e-commerce, Menē does not have a boutique but has reached customers in over 60 countries. The brand sells a range of items, from necklaces to rings and charm bracelets designed by Widmaier-Picasso and company creative director Sunjoo Moon, who has previously worked with brands in the Louis Vuitton group, as well as Missoni and Kenzo. .
The designs each have a historical feel. There are water lily earrings, which are reminiscent of something you might see in an Art Nouveau painting, and a dagger pendant, which is reminiscent of Old World tattoos. One of the brand’s most iconic pieces is their playful charm set, from starfish to Pac Man and dog paw prints, as well as their set of medallions, which range from tree designs to a rising phoenix.
There are nods to the history of art. In 2019, the brand launched a Louise Bourgeois collection, in honor of the modern artist, with a gold spider pendant that is shaped like a sculpture.
Widmaier-Picasso was born and educated in Paris, but lived for over a decade in New York City, where she worked on art exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has been a director of MoMA PS1 since 2009. She then became an expert in Old Master Drawings at Sotheby’s in London, then returned to her hometown of Paris, where she has been based since 2017.
She has written three books, including the recent Picasso: the impossible collection, published by Assouline, and curator of several Picasso art exhibitions, everywhere from the Grand Palais to the Gagosian Gallery.
Widmaier-Picasso recently spoke with Penta on some of his favorite passions, places and museums.
My goal for 2021 is … develop philanthropy devoted to the artistic education of underprivileged children.
A new routine that I developed during social isolation was … take a ballet class every day.
Once I can travel safely again, the first place I want to go is … Venice! I hope to see the Bruce Nauman exhibition at the Dogana, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco with the late work of Tintoretto, and see the exhibitions that are part of the Venice Architecture Biennale – I mean the Moroccan pavilions and Lebanese are impressive. I will also visit Pierre Rosenberg’s collection of glass animals with my daughter at the Fondazione Cini. And of course, enjoy a Bellini on Lido Island.
If I had to buy a work of art, it would be through … Pablo Picasso or Joseph Beuys, who was born a century ago this year and whose work remains so current today.
The best book I read last year is … I hesitate, I would say that of Erri de Luca
Impossible or maybe Claudia Kalb’s
Spark: how Genius ignites, from child prodigies to latecomers. These are two brilliant books that have captivated me over the past year, they come highly recommended.
One of my passions that few people know is … prehistory.
My favorite cafe in Paris is … a link between the legendary Café de Flore, of course an epic of Parisian history, and Loulou’s, an ideal place for lunch right next to the Louvre museum where you can admire a sublime view of Paris from the patio.
What wakes me up in the morning is … my adorable 4 year old daughter of course.
My favorite neighborhood is … St Germain-des-Près, on the left bank in Paris in the 6th arrondissement. I also like the nearby 7th arrondissement, a stone’s throw from the Invalides district. It’s right next to the Rodin Museum, which has a fantastic “Picasso / Rodin” exhibit right now until March 2022.
If I could have a drink with anybody, anywhere, it would be … on the island of Li Galli on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, just south of Naples. It’s dreamy.
The only thing I’m doing more to help me get through this difficult time is … spend more time with my family.
My favorite museum in the world is … I have to say these are my top three: the Picasso Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
The most special piece of jewelry I own is … a Spider designed by Louise Bourgeois that we edited in 24 carat gold for [Menē]. .
One person who inspired me to do what I do is … my grandfather, Pablo Picasso, gave me a good sense of responsibility and a high level of requirement.