Motion with Lasting Effect

Jewelry Artist Friedrich Becker

kinetic ring by Friedrich Becker

Kinetic Ring, 1977. Stainless steel, synthetic korundum.

He united an engineer’s desire to design things with the arts of the goldsmith and the sculptor. With his artistic oeuvre and the impact he made as a teacher, Friedrich Becker (1922–1997) counts among the most influential trailblazers of modern art jewelry. As a designer of kinetic jewelry as well as large objects and as professor at Düsseldorf’s Arts and Crafts School, which later on became the University of Applied Sciences, this goldsmith set new standards for individually and artistically designed jewelry. Of equal importance was his influence on the development of designs in the Modernist tradition for serially manufactured jewelry which have changed the jewelry culture in manufactories and ateliers since the 1970s, in particular in German-speaking countries.

Friedrich Becker was one of the most important protagonists of an artistic self-reflection in the jewelry world after 1945. His clear-cut, constructivist language of form and design, the use of invisible settings for exchangeable gemstones and the implementation of kinetic ideas in jewelry earned him international attention in the 1950s and 1960s. Until his death he fought for the recognition of his trade as an artistic discipline – without, however, denying its limits and traditions. Neither did he hesitate to appear at conventions of jewelers’ associations and other events to vehemently speak in favor of a new jewelry culture.

“Shortly before his death in May 1997, Friedrich Becker was the first goldsmith in the history of the Royal College of Art in London to be awarded an honorary doctorate. Unfortunately, the news about this honor did not reach him in time; it would have certainly made him very happy. Becker was one of the most brilliant personalities among 20th-century jewelry artists and had great charisma.” Dr. Rüdiger Joppien

Text Reinhold Ludwig

English translation Sabine Goodman