Georg Jensen Retrospective at the Museum in Koldinghus
In honor of the 150th year since his birth, The Koldinghus Museum is presenting a retrospective on the life and works of Georg Jensen entitled, “Georg Jensen – A Tale of Danish Silver” between September 4th 2015 and February 2016.
The exhibit focuses on the remarkable history of the man, the silversmithy, and story behind them told through a number of rare and unusual items within the Museum's collection.
Starting off with his initial storefront in Copenhagen, the exhibition proceeds through a number of beautiful examples of Georg Jensen's own detailed and finely crafted items in the Skonvirke style, along with the works of Kristian Mohl-Hansen, with his iconic dove design as well as those of his dearest friend, Johan Rohde. Both Kristian Mohl Hansen and Johan Rohde worked along side Georg Jensen, and were among the first that contributed their designs to the silversmithy, and ensured a spot for future designers under the Georg Jensen name.
The exhibit then moves on into examples of the work of Harald Nielsen, who would soon become the creative director of the silversmithy after Georg Jensen's absence from his namesake company. Clean lines and Art Deco motifs dominate between WWI and WWII, as tastes changed and older hand hammer styles seemed dated in relation to the more forward looking sleek modern look. During this period we also get to see examples of the Swedish Prince, Sigvaard Bernadotte's work, which took on a functionalist style and started to lead the way for more modern pieces later on.
As WWII created shortages in silver, the exhibit then turns to showcase new rising stars in the world of Georg Jensen silver. Most notably those of the medalist Arno Malinowski, whose war time pieces incorporated steel and were heavily influenced by the Japanese artists of old. Gundolph Albertus' Mitra pattern also holds a place in this portion of the exhibit, being originally conceived in silver, the shortages forced the company to produce it as their first stainless steel flatware pattern, and to much success. It is this creativity in the face of adversity and a willingness to experiment that has helped the company to grow and adapt to its current recognition and prestige.
The next portion of the exhibition pays great respect to Henning Koppel, Soren Georg Jensen, and Nanna Ditzel whom, in the post WWII era reached out into new areas of design, bringing forth unusual forms and motifs to create in the newly emerging modern design. No greater contrast could be expressed in the designs of Georg Jensen than through those of Soren Georg Jensen and Henning Koppel. Both were artists in their former lives. Soren Georg Jensen had become the well known sculptor his father, the founder Georg Jensen, had always dreamed of being, and his sculptures are scattered throughout the Danish landscapes. Soren Georg Jensen applied his sculptural approach to his silver designs, creating incredibly geometric pieces often a play in angular shapes and balancing dimensions, where as Henning Koppel took an opposite approach, designing with sensual organic curves, pushing the limitations of what the silver itself could attempt.
The exhibit then transitions into the works of Torun, one of the first female designers for the silversmithy, along with the aforementioned Nanna Ditzel and Astrid Fog, and arguably one of the silversmithy's most famous. Torun's pieces are easily recognized for the sense of frivolity and playfulness hidden within. From examples of her earliest necklaces, designed with stones she gathered along the shore to her ever famous watch, which lacking numerals and possessing a mirrored face, was more ornamentation than an item of utility.
As the exhibition transitions into the 80's and 90's, one can sense a dramatic change in the focus of the company. No longer relying on the large elaborately designed sets of silver flatware, which have little use in the modern home, where entertaining has become more seldom and silver's upkeep had become burdensome, the silversmithy adapts once again, focusing on jewelry and other pieces for the home. Newer pieces include the jewelry pieces of Jaqueline Rabun and Kim Buck, who further reinvented what could be done with the materials at hand, and created wearable works of art. Vernor Panton's more sculptural geometric hollowware dishes are also on display along with fine examples of Allan Scharff including his much adored bird motif items.
The exhibit ends on an open yet uplifting note, asking the question of “What Next?” for the silversmithy founded by the sculptor who turned to metalwork to feed his family, and that would become such a renowned entity in the world of design, despite its humble origins, and leaves us in anticipation for the future.
ADDENDUM: A selection of the items for this exhibition have been loaned to the Dutch Silver Museum in Schoonhoven, Netherlands from March 24th through September 25th, 2016. The exhibition, titled, "Georg Jensen, An Adventure is Silver".