Soren Georg Jensen
Essays by Nils Georg Jensen, Nanna Ditzel, Erik Christian Sorensen and others
Soren Georg Jensen was born in 1917 as the son of the famous silversmith, Georg Jensen.
In many ways, he shared many similarities with his father, although he pursued a path that was perhaps complimentary to his father's. Where as Georg Jensen tried his hand at sculpture before finding success working with silver, Soren Georg Jensen dabbled in silver, which influenced his greater success at sculpture. Trained as a silversmith, he created a number of pieces for the Georg Jensen Silversmithy, including a number of hollowware pieces, as well as few articles of jewelry. Most of his designs did not, however, make it into production. Perhaps it was their overall design, which Nanna Ditzel had said, "... all the later works express the same concrete method as the sculptures - they are not "like" they "are"."
In understanding the works of Soren Georg Jensen, it is perhaps best to try and understand the whole, and in order to understand his sculptural works, it is perhaps necessary to understand his silver works first. Soren Georg Jensen was very much a product of his times, and heavily inspired by the functionalist movement at the time, just as the "architect's silver" of the 40's and 50's was waning. In many piece he experimented with the form, as well as the function of form within his designs. For example, one of his bracelets consisted of simple broad links, however, where the links hinged together, the hinges were expanded across the whole link, forming a beautiful alternating band design. Overall, the proportions were also alternated, the links with 2 bands approximately 2/3rds of the length of the links with three bands. This attention to proportions would play out also in a number of his sculptures, most notably, "Three Stone", which plays on a 3:4 ratio throughout its simple construction of three interlocking stones: the bottom stone 3/4ths the sculpture's overall height, the height of the bottom stone alone 3/4ths its width.
Another recurring theme in his jewelry would be his heavy use of geometric shapes. A pair of cufflinks might utilize the simple play between a circular ring and a centered straight flat bar. The ring imitates a button, the bar functioning to attach the ring to the cufflink backing. Each aspect functional, and yet its geometrics create a beautiful sculptural design. Another example might be from a bracelet designed in 1957, which consisted of a number of angular links joined in what at first appears to be a haphazard fashion, with small raised rectangular bars. Though at first random, as one gazes at it more, one can see the careful alternating pattern in the various elements. Secondarily the rectangular protrusions are not simply "placed" on the larger links, but are mounted and raised in such a way to give the appearance of floating midair. The sculptural aspect also bears some resemblance to a relief created in 1956, as well as a granite sculpture done in 1960 for the Herning Art Museum, appearing at first as a series of oddly shaped geometric stones. On closer inspection, the stones themselves have a repetitive geometric similarity in their shape, hard straight almost rectangular trapezoids with a protrusion from one side, joining and interlocking each piece. The surfaces of these pieces, (though not all of Soren Georg Jensen's works) also take on a smooth polished surface, much like the desirable surfaces on his silver pieces, utilizing their shapes to add texture and interact with the play of light upon their surfaces.
Many of these aspects would contribute to his consideration as a sculptor in abstract. Not only geometric, but his works have an architectural aspect to them. Many utilize interlocking stones, often with each smaller piece being almost a sculpture in itself, but overall creating a larger more interesting work. His method of execution was unusual too. Rather than working directly from stone, a number of his sculptures started off as illustrations, (much like his silver), and then rendered as sculptures in clay. In this process, he would then work directly with stonecarvers in rendering his works in their final materials, sometimes altering the design or changing the texture of an element as the work progressed.
While employed as master silversmith, Soren Georg Jensen often worked in his small but open workshop in Louisiana at Humlebaek, where he found the peace he needed to complete his works, and later, in 1962, he would start working from the island of Bornholm, where he would be close to his raw materials, primarily granite, and the stonecutters necessary for his work. He didn't just work in granite however, but also in metals such as bronze and ceramics. Over time this workshop would be expanded upon and become a more permanent residence and fellow sculptor Ole Christensen would assist him along with many other notable artist from different fields whom resided in the area. Many of his exhibitions would also be in collaboration with these other artists, and this would end up to be an ideal location for his works. Even the easy availability of clay from the nearby Rabaekvaerket Manufactury would help him create later works, including the tube like sculptures that were displayed Gallery Olethe Palsby in Copenhagen, which consisted of a number of ceramic pipes and half pipe structures joined in delicate vertical arrangement that carefully balances the use of empty space with its graceful shapes. During the early 70's he would change location again, now working on "Aurora Septentrionalis" for the Danish Academy in Rome, where he would then begin his later works in Italy.
From 1962 to 1974, Soren Georg Jensen wasn't just extremely productive with sculpture but had also taken over for Harald Nielsen, his uncle, the position of Artistic Director for the Georg Jensen Silversmithy. During this period where he held the position, he bore much of the responsibility for working with designers and guiding their artistic endeavors through the process of product development. Soren Georg Jensen's term could very well be considered the "Silver Age" of the company, where Henning Koppel was most productive, creating a great many works, and Torun became first associated with the silversmithy, along with other artist like Nanna Ditzel and Astrid Fog.
Working also as chairman of the National Association of Danish Applied Arts, he worked more than just to the success of the silversmithy, but also towards the success of Danish Arts as a whole. In this regard, he was constantly thinking forward. He wished to create collections with international artists, perhaps expanding the possibilities for the Decorative Arts as a whole. He forsaw the industries need to switch from silver to less expensive stainless steel when prices on the metal would eventually make sterling flatware or hollowware prohibitively expensive. To this effect he designed his own production series of approximately a hundred pieces, which although failed, was perhaps only too early; a prelude to the success of Arne Jacobsen with Stelton, and even with more so with the still popular flatware set that bears his name.
Last Updated: 5/18/09
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