Jewelry as a Pure Art Form

The special exhibition Schmuck at the Handwerk & Design 2023

For more than 60 years, the Schmuck show at Handwerk & Design has presented the latest developments in the art of jewelry as part of the Munich International Crafts Fair. Many other highlights in craft and design likewise aim to delight the audience in Munich. This year’s curator of Schmuck is the British artist Caroline Broadhead, who selected 67 participants from 23 countries from among 600 applicants. Examining and questioning the nature and function of jewelry, as well as references to society and philosophy in the past and the present, are integral parts of the genre.

Sigurd Bronger, Brooch Sustainable Construction No. 3, Photo: Sigurd Bronger.

Sigurd Bronger’s Sustainable Construction No. 3 transforms a used cardboard roll into a philosophical query. This artist, who is also highly regarded far beyond Norway, is concerned with the meaning of an empty box. What value do we attach to the box when it serves no function? What happens when the empty box is worn as a piece of jewelry? Does it thereby acquire a function? According to curator Caroline Broadhead, jewelry becomes a “carrier of emotion” through its direct relationship to the human body. Whether a piece of jewelry is made of gold or cardboard is solely a question of the story told by the particular piece, Broadhead adds.

Zixin Wei: Tesafilm und Jade necklace. Photo: Zixin Wei.

Zixin Wei from China used scotch tape and jade in her necklace, which she accordingly named Tesafilm und Jade. These two materials could hardly be more different: the latter is a mythologically charged gemstone, the former is an industrially mass-produced article. Nowadays adhesive strips in countless applications capture motes of dust and stray hairs. United in the necklace, each material and each chain link assumes responsibility for its supporting function and for the cohesion of the whole.

Lisa Walker, It started with a mask, then some decoration got added necklace. Photo: Lisa Walker.

Lisa Walker from New Zealand tirelessly explores the cultural function of jewelry and repeatedly creates surprising and spectacular works from raw materials provided by our contemporary consumerist world. What could be more apt than her necklace made from a face mask, exactly like the masks that have covered billions of faces and made life more difficult since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Annamaria Zanella honored as a classic of modernism

The special Schmuck show honors Annamaria Zanella, who died in 2022, as a classic of modernism. In the tradition of Arte Povera, this Paduan artist (born in 1966) used materials such as plastics, broken glass, shells, tin or sponges, often in such a way that these “humble” materials appeared splendid and opulent. For example, she soaked neoprene in vivid blue dye to make it look like lapis lazuli. “Blue is the soul, the hope,” she once said of her love for the color.

Annamaria Zanella: Finistreblu brooch. Photo: Marco Furio Magliani.

Her Finistreblu brooch is like a window that offers a view out of a room and into nature and freedom. Wearing this “window jewel” invites its viewer to gaze both inward and outward. The story of the blue or also red or orange pieces expresses the sadness of our times. For example, the grief evoked by the sight of bombed buildings with shattered windows in Ukraine, where everything speaks of destruction and pain, or the unspeakable anguish that emanates from the windows of many houses in Iran, where a theocratic regime denies women freedom to dress freely, to wear jewelry or even to have an identity – a regime that brings death, as in the case of Mahsa Amini and many other executed women and men.

Herbert Hofmann Prize – the Oscars of jewelry art

Sophisticated jewelry can likewise be seen at numerous individual and collective stands in Hall B1 at Munich’s Trade Fair Center: for example, at the Frame stands around the special shows Schmuck, Talente and Exempla, as well as at international jewelry galleries such as Marzee from Amsterdam, Platina from Stockholm and Rosemarie Jäger from Hochheim.

The Herbert Hofmann Prize will be awarded to selected artists from the special Schmuck show at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, 2023. The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Benno and Therese Danner’schen Kunstgewerbestiftung and the state of Bavaria.

Other special shows traditionally include the Talente exhibition and Exempla, which features handcrafted boatbuilding this year.

  • IHM Handwerk & Design
    Munich Trade Fair Center
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