Schmuck 2012 (Part One)


                                   Schmuck 2012 (March 14-20, 2012)

Earlier this month I traveled to Munich with the Art Jewelry Forum (www.artjewelryforum.org) to attend Schmuck(Jewelry), an annual jewelry exhibition that takes place in conjunction with the International Trades Fair. Schmuck is the oldest contemporary jewelry exhibition in the world. It was started by Herbert Hofmann (1899-1971) in 1959 and since then has long been considered the most important venue for jewelry artists to show their work. In 1973 the Trade Organization started giving out the Herbert Hofmann prize to three participating jewelers.  This year approximately 665 applications were received from 35 countries. Dr. Karl Bollman, a jewelry collector from Vienna, was chosen to preside over the show and selected 65 jewelry artists to participate. According to the show catalogue Dr. Bollman’s criteria for choosing pieces for the show were based on “lucid form, wearability, and artisanal quality.”  Surrounding Schmuck is an overwhelming number of smaller gallery shows and museum exhibitions.

With my AJF group, consisting of gallery owners, makers, and collectors, I spent an intense, but unforgettable, 72 hours looking and breathing nothing but jewelry. Over the course of this week, and in three installments, I will publish my Schmuck 2012 diary. 

DAY ONE: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Galerie Biró
Our day started with a trip to Galerie Biró to see artist Lisa Walker’s most recent show called “Glee.” At the Galerie we met with Walker and its owner, Olga Zobel-Biró, who spoke to us about contemporary jewelry and gladly modeled for us Walker’s work. Since it was an (early) morning visit we were treated to OJ to go along with our discussion. Walker’s whimsical, often large, jewelry consists of found objects that the artist has picked up during her travels. What inspired me about Walker’s work is that no two pieces were alike and, unlike other artists, there was not one theme that work adhered to leaving me to believe that she is an artist that follows her whims and allows the materials to guide her creative process.  
For more: Lisa Walker:  http://www.lisawalker.de/   Galerie Biró:  http://www.galerie-biro.de/

Galerie Biro owner Olga Zobel-Biro wearing one of Lisa Walker’s necklaces
Lisa Walker’s necklace as part of the “Glee” show at Galerie Biro

Artist Lisa Walker at Galerie Biro

Galerie Handwerk

Our next stop was the Galerie Handwerk, an important venue for exhibitions on emerging and established artists. The Galerie Handwerk, founded in 1968 by two artisans, is not a privately owned gallery but sponsored by the Chamber of Craft and Trade. They have a rotating roster of exhibitions every six months, the current show “Renaissance of Enameling” explores the resurgence of enamel use in jewelry over the last twenty years.  “Renaissance of Enameling” features the work of forty-one artists from sixteen countries. The jewelry on view is incredibly diverse as there are many different enamel techniques. Our tour was lead by artist Christine Graf, whose beautiful brooches made of lacquered-covered mesh are also featured in the exhibition. During our visit two other artists, Graziano Visintin and Carolina Gimeno, were also present and spoke to us about their work.
For more:  http://www.hwk-muenchen.de/galerie
Vera Siemund’s Brooch at Galerie Handwerk
Christine Graf’s Brooches at Galerie Handwerk
Graziano Visintin’s Brooches at Galerie Handwerk

Following a delish lunch at the Brenner Grill….we headed over to Schmuck. Located in Hall A1 of the Neue Messe München, a giant convention center thirty minutes from the center of the town, Schmuck is only a small part of the Trade Show. As one walks through the convention center to get to A1, you pass vendors selling everything from baked pretzels to mass-produced furniture to felt slippers.

Schmuck
As I already wrote, this year’s Schmuck show was juried by Dr. Karl Bollman, who welcomed the AJF group to the show and told us that “jewelry is made for imagination.” He was hesitant to tell us what we really wanted to know: how did he decide who to include. Dr. Bollman is a philosopher; he wanted to show work that was somehow different, communicated new ideas about jewelry, and that was beautiful and pure. Did he play favorites? I think so! Thirty-six out of the sixty-five artists picked can be found in his personal collection. After a few words, Dr. Bollman encouraged us to wander around and look at the jewelry on view and make our own conclusions as to why a certain work was chosen. After all, we didn’t need to ask him what he thought was good or bad as it was all right in front of us. There was such a wide range of works on view that it was overwhelming. Jewelry big and small, bold and delicate, elegant and gaudy, made of paper or gold, abstract or figurative in design, practical and impractical, beautiful and ugly. Displayed in glass cases it all looked like important.  Unlike Dr. Bollman I am not afraid to single out my favorites. I fell for the work of Bettina Speckner, Liv Blavarp, Sabine Klarner, and Iacov Azubel, just to name a few.
The Schmuck “Pavilion”, Hall A1, Neue Messe Munchen
Bettina Speckner, Brooches,  2011
Iacov Azubel, “Favela”,  Brooch, 2011
Liv Blavarp, “Red Drop II” Necklace and Bracelet, 2012
Sabine Klarner, “Tiger and Dragon” Ring and Pendant,  2011

Talente
I was equally impressed with another special international exhibition that is part of the Trade Fair, and located right next to Schmuck in Hall A1, called  Talente (Talents). What makes Talente different from Schmuck is that 1- it is not limited to jewelry but features all different types of design objects and 2- it is only open to designers 33 years and younger and 35 years and younger if it is a technical field. This year’s show featured 98 designers from 28 countries. This is also a juried exhibition but the final prize has no monetary value. I found that the submissions for ceramics, jewelry and furniture where very strong at Talente. The underlying theme in every showcase was materials, materials, materials. The designers all excelled at employing unexpected materials in their creations and some attempted to fool the viewer. Junbum Park’s stools made of steel resembled tree branches, Marina Elenskaya necklace’s made of silicone resembled chards of glass, and Hanna Nielsen’s painted plywood hats (or “sound making wearable pieces” as the artist calls them). I also loved, loved the work of Marta Mattson whose “Fossil” Brooches made of real cicadas, pyrite, and silver were incredibly romantic and beautiful. The AJF group walked got a tour of the show from Dr. Michaela Braesel, who have us an in-depth look into the selection process and a better understanding of the work.
Marina Elenskaya, Necklace from the “About Belonging” series 
Marta Mattsson, Brooches from the “Fossils” series
Hanna Nielsen, Hats from the “Soundwear” series
Junbum Park, Chair and Stools

Frame
None of the jewelry featured in Schmuck is for sale, however right near the pavilion is a smaller “show” called Frame, which consists of three jewelry galleries: Galerie Marzee from Nijmegen, Galerie RA from Amsterdam, and Platina from Stockholm, where one can purchase the work of (most) artists featured in Schmuck. Having these galleries present at the show is a good idea, not only is great for collectors who are itching to acquire new pieces but it also puts the monetary value of the work in context for us novices.
For more: Galerie Marzee http://www.marzee.nl/galerie/ , Galerie RA http://www.galerie-ra.nl/, and Platina http://www.platina.se/

Stockholm gallery Platina hung their jewelry on the wall at Frame. Photo courtesy of the Art Jewelry Forum.
Gerd Rothman Studio Visit
Our final stop of the day was to visit the studio of Gerd Rothman, who is an important German jeweler.  I loved it when curators or collectors who we met with referred to established jewelry artists as“old masters” well Gerd, in my opinion, is an “old master.”  Rothman started making jewelry in the 1970s and has never stopped. His work is concerned with the human body, of course jewelry is meant to be worn on the body but Rothman also makes sure that we never forget that jewelry has a very personal meaning and so he uses fingerprints and body casts as his decorative element. Rings, necklaces, brooches all bare fingerprints, in most cases the fingerprints are his but getting your loved ones involved is always an option.
First Rothman and his wife treated their AJF guests to a traditional Bavarian dinner with pretzels, sweet mustard, liverwurst, deviled eggs, and pickles. He then welcomed us into his studio and showed examples of his early work and also his newest creations which he prepared for an exhibition, “Returning to the Jewel is a Return from Exile Nr. 5″ (organized by Galerie Biro, this was a group show that also featured the work of Robert Baines and Karl Fritsch) in One Column Hall of the Munich Residenz (the largest city Palace in Germany!) that was opening the next evening. Rothman also gifted each one of us a copy of his catalogue raisonne and when I asked him to sign the books for us, he at first decanted but then, appropriately, took out an ink pad and left his fingerprint inside our books.

Gerd Rothman in his studio showing us some of his early work
Gerd Rothman, Series of Brooches, 1968

Gerd Rothman, Hand Brooch, 2012

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Gerd Rothman, Finger print Ring, 2012
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Part of two of my Schmuck diary to follow on Wednesday, March 28th.
To read the second part of my Schmuck diary, click here.

Categories: Jewelry, Travel

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