Art, high-quality manufacturing and design, as well as the lifestyles inspired by them are our themes. In our Art Aurea journal and on our new internet platform we explain and communicate a traditional culture in a contemporary and innovative fashion. With an open mind and without prejudice, we look for artistic quality and exquisite craftsmanship that embody inspiration, beauty and meaningful depth, and particularly appreciate authentic creative minds, as well as people who love the exceptional.
The boundaries between the arts and objects for daily use are more permeable and less distinct than ever. The definition of art depends on the zeitgeist and is subject to societal, commercial and individual interests. With Art Aurea magazine and the Art Aurea internet platform, we pursue a holistic approach to art. As was articulated by the Bauhaus in the early years of the Modern era and later reasserted by Joseph Beuys, we champion the idea of art permeating all areas of life. It’s a widespread error to believe that a painting or a sculpture is surely a work of art, but vessels or jewelry don’t deserve this status because they can also serve useful purposes.
In every epoch, artifacts and objects made with artistry and fine craftsmanship have always been associated with rituals. Like music, language and poetry, they express the culture in which they arose. But industrial mass production is not infrequently inhumane, harmful to the environment and a cause of emotional and intellectual impoverishment.
We accordingly also regard Art Aurea as a medium for the preservation and contemporary evolution of substantial culture and environmental awareness. We would like to inform and inspire our readers so they more consciously opt for products and art objects that gain value with the passage of time and remain long-lasting sources of pleasure – beyond short-lived consumption and soulless mass production.
30 years of Art Aurea told by its Chief Editor Reinhold Ludwig (*1948)
Art Aurea, which can be translated as “Golden Art,” was first born in 1985 from my enthusiasm for art jewelry, which was nearly unknown at that time and which was undergoing a courageous and radical break with tradition in those years. As editor-in-chief of a special-interest magazine for watches and industrial jewelry at Ebner Publishers in Ulm, I chanced to visit a jewelry exhibition in an art gallery in the summer of 1985. The exhibit featured works by the goldsmith Jan Dix, who is the son of the painter Otto Dix, and by another goldsmith, Barbara Plersch, who showed her expressive pieces in silver with acrylic and colored lacquer. Also in their sheer dimensions, her works differed fundamentally from conventional industrial jewelry.
At approximately the same time, goldsmiths in Munich were seeking a publisher for a magazine that was to be published to accompany a jewelry exhibition in Künstlerhaus am Lenbachplatz. Among other places, they also landed in my office. I’ve always enjoyed jumping into cold water without a backward glance, so I let their enthusiasm persuade me and I agreed to create the magazine. I was assisted in this project by Stanislaus Kutác, a designer from Ulm who had studied at the technical college in Schwäbisch Gmünd and was familiar with Professor Pierre Slevogt’s jewelry class. In retrospect, Kutác’s most imaginative design contribution to Art Aurea was a black-and-white dotted pattern on the back of the magazine and the inside of its cover. The pattern was taken from a shirt that he inserted into a photocopier. Copies of Art Aurea were literally snatched from our hands at the exhibition in Munich in November 1985. The success was so overwhelming that we dared to publish the magazine quarterly and soon afterwards bilingually in German and English.
Art Aurea demanded plenty of heart’s blood! I spent countless hours of my free time, especially on weekends, writing articles, pasting layouts and cultivating contacts. There wasn’t much time for those tasks in the publishing house. Weekends were also devoted to visiting exhibitions and events. Whenever the people in the jewelry scene gathered, there were animated discussions about art jewelry and its relationship to the fine arts. Buyers were admittedly rather rare, but that didn’t dampen the mood of upheaval and new beginnings. And Art Aurea heaped fuel onto thse flames.
Looking back, I realize that those first years with Art Aurea were an essential experience for me and a great personal adventure. In conversations with important goldsmiths such as Friedrich Becker, Hermann Jünger, Max Fröhlich, Peter Skubic, Johanna Dahm and Otto Künzli, with designers such as Carl Dau and Hans-Hermann Lingenbrinck, with Jochen Exner from the Niessing manufactory, as well as with gallerists such as Inge Asenbaum, Helen Drutt, Paul Derrez and Jürgen Eickhoff, I learned about the various stances in the world of modern jewelry. Encounters with great personalities in the worlds of design and architecture such as Alessandro Mendini, Matteo Thun, Antonio Citterio and Volker Albus broadened my horizons and heightened my sensitivity for quality design and historical contexts, also in other disciplines.
Right from the start, I sought to offer holistic and interdisciplinary interpretations of the new jewelry in the context of art and design: i.e. as contemporary design culture, which revealed commonalities with visual art, architecture and the design movements of those years, especially New German Design. Ethnological and sociological aspects likewise had their place in Art Aurea. I showed jewelry from cultures such as the Akahs in northern Thailand, who had recently lost their identity under the influence of civilization, and from subcultures like the punks, who were causing quite a stir in society in the 1980s. Art Aurea was a big success among its readers and soon enjoyed cult status. But Art Aurea had always been difficult to justify from a commercial standpoint in a publishing house that was obliged to keep a sharp eye on advertising revenues. Some people at Ebner Publishers said, “The magazine is Mr. Ludwig’s hobby.” Finally, the decision to discontinue Art Aurea was made in 1996.
I left Ebner Publishers in Ulm early in 2006 so that I could dare a new beginning after 30 years of successful work there. My primary motivation to abandon a well-paid and secure executive position at age 58 was the desire once again in my life to do something useful for society and to pursue a project that was dear to my heart. After the publication of the book “Schmuck-Design der Moderne” [“Jewelry Design of the Modern Period”], which was published by Arnoldsche Art Publisher, I decided to revive Art Aurea as a self-published periodical, initially as an online magazine in 2008, and finally again in a printed edition in 2010.