Silver as art and pioneering design – AnOther celebrates 110 years of Georg Jensen's extraordinary craftsmanship
What do currency, solar panels, mirrors, water purification, medical disinfectant and photography all have in common? They all, in various permutations, use silver as a key element. The most reflective metal on the planet, as well as one of the most valuable and beautiful, silver was discovered many thousand of years ago, before 5000 BC, and has been in common and diverse use ever since. In the work of Georg Jensen, the famed 19th century silversmith, it found an expression and elegance that have formed a unique chapter in its history, one recorded in Rizzoli’s new book, Georg Jensen: Reflections.
Jensen's eclectic education took in an apprenticeship as a goldsmith and a degree in fine art, and in the foundation of his silverware company in 1904, the artist was able to combine the two practices and create extraordinary pieces. By 1906, his name was already established in his native Copenhagen, and his reputation was growing internationally, with his sculptural, Art Nouveau chocolate pots, bonbonnières, vases and cutlery garnering acclaim. He pioneered new practices, such as flatware patterns, and took inspiration from the flourishes of nature, weaving leaves and berries into fork stems and growing flowers out of hair clips. Never gaudy or excessive, his pieces echoed the detailed precision of Karl Blossfeldt’s spine-tingling photogravures of plants.
Indeed, key to the Georg Jensen story are the collaborations that expanded the silver line and kept the house forever at the vanguard of design excellence. Harald Nielsen created the sleek shapes that echoed the Modernism of the inter-war period, Sigvard Bernadotte provided a functionalist edge to vessels and candlesticks, Henning Keppel created the swooping curves of the iconic African Girl Pitcher, Verner Panton added Pop to the Jensen line with his crumpled Dish and Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe brought a flavour of youthful fearlessness with her collection of watches and gem studded brooches and dangling earrings. Staying true to tradition while creating fresh and covetable works season on season is no easy task, yet Georg Jensen has remained relevant and exciting for over a century, something this book celebrates and commemorates in style.
Georg Jensen: Reflections is out now, published by Rizzoli.