Friedrich Becker – Born to Play

Vessels made of silver, kinetic sculptures and especially jewelry. The exhibition at the Goldsmith House Hanau.

Friedrich Becker (1922-1997) would have celebrated his 100th birthday on May 25, 2022. An extensive anniversary exhibition at Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau offers an overview of the oeuvre of this goldsmith and kinetic artist, while simultaneously contextualizing his work at numerous media stations. As his wife Hilde Becker said, Friedrich Becker did not want to make jewelry “that has always been made,” but to create something genuinely new. His pieces were to have their own form, but at the same time never abandon their decorative function.

Friedrich Becker

With this brooch of 1962 Friedrich Becker won the State Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1965. 750 white gold, orient pearls.

Friedrich Becker was a versatile, curious and technically skilled individual. Initially a glider pilot, he subsequently trained as a machinist and studied aeronautical engineering. He was wounded while serving in the military during the war. After the end of the war, he faced the question of his professional existence anew. He first tried dental technology, but soon reoriented himself, completed an apprenticeship as a goldsmith, attended the Meisterschule für Werkkunst, became a professor there, and most recently taught at the Fachhochschule Düsseldorf. Immanent in his jewelry and objects is the “striving … to shape himself, to explore with the laws of physics, to work empirically, and to lovingly pursue kinetic developments, both small and large, in the jewelry field.” Like no other, Friedrich Becker developed jewelry with a high degree of technical sophistication, skillfully concealing the mechanisms behind the minimalist formal language. Through kinetics, he sought to bring a chaotic world into balance.

Friedrich Becker

Friedrich Becker’s inventiveness is already evident in this early ring from 1958. The ends of the thinly tapered ring rail of 750 yellow gold form the setting of the red tourmaline.

Beginning with early works and classic silverware, the exhibition in Hanau spans an arc from material purism and new materials, through variable and kinetic jewelry, to the documentation of large kinetic objects.Wellenkinetik (Wave Kinetics) from 1990, a permanent installation in the Goldschmiedehaus, rotates in the stairwell and is an impressive example of Becker’s space-encompassing creations. The majority of the jewelry and objects reveal their full potential only in motion. Individual physical movements set the jewelry in motion: wearing a piece of Becker’s jewelry is always a unique experience. A special presentation was developed for the exhibition’s kinetic objects thanks to the experience of Michael Berger, who makes kinetic jewelry and was employed in Becker’s workshop for many years. The presentation enables visitors to activate many of the pieces of jewelry so they can better comprehend the kinetic aspect of wearing these creations. Visitors can also try out various arrangements on a large-scale model of the variable pin-on jewelry Perlendreieck (Pearl Triangle) from 1978.

Friedrich Becker

Friedrich Becker became internationally known for his kinetics in jewelry and free objects. Kinetic arm jewelry, 1997, stainless steel, synthetic corundum.

Friedrich Becker

Friedrich Becker’s austerity of form had a formative influence on German jewelry design. Photos Michael Berger.

A multitude of photos, documents, sketches and, last but not least, videos contextualize the works and offer insight into the underlying creative processes. Interviews with companions and former students make the artist Friedrich Becker more accessible. Works by winners of the Friedrich Becker Prize Düsseldorf and a selection of works by students impressively demonstrate the lasting influence of Becker’s work. Julia Psilitelis, Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau

  • Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
    Altstädter Markt 6
    63450 Hanau, Germany
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