In Memory of Olaf Skoogfors, 1930-1975

Olaf Skooglors died at the age of 45 on December 20, 1975. In memory of Olaf Skoogfors these excerpts were taken from the 1979 retrospective exhibit, held at the Philadelphia College of Art and the Renwick Gallery and curated by Helen Williams Drutt. A memorial exhibit was also held at the Helen Drutt Gallery in fall of 1985.

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A man who gave of his creative talents and his personal leadership to many, Olaf Skoogfors was the kind of person who helped form the American contemporary craft movement. ln his early years in Philadelphia he spent many hours on committees, panel discussions, forums, and on academic committees at the Philadelphia College of Art.

He was a well-known international goldsmith. His work has been seen in the finest museums throughout the world and often-times he was a guest lecturer to foreign countries. His leadership helped develop a stronger sense of personal involvement for many in the field of art.

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Olaf was one of the founding members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and an invited exhibitor in Goldsmith ’70 at the Minnesota Museum of Art, the first national exhibition sponsored by the, then, newly formed organization. During his lifetime he devoted much of his leisure to organizations which were supportive of his personal esthetic and artistic goals and SNAG benefited from this energy during the early 1970’s.

Described by many as the dean of American jewelers, he had exhibited in over 80 national, regional and local craft shows since 1951 and beginning in 1962 his work was shown internationally. Among his many achievements and honors were the prize in 1967 and a one-man show at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York in 1968. He represented the United States as one of “Three American Jewellers” [along with Stanley Lechtzin and Miye Matsukata] in Tokyo in 1969 and exhibited in the 500th Dürer Anniversary Exhibition in Germany in 1970. His work was included in “Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1976.

During the last six years of his life his work revealed an incredible sense of organization, he was influenced by artists in all fields who dealt with “the exploration of form and images as a personal quest.” According to his wife, Judy, “he had his objectives under control, he no longer philosophized about the validities of where he was and what he was doing he simply worked.”

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By Helen Willams Drutt
Metalsmith Magazine - 1987 Winter
In association with SNAG's
Metalsmith magazine, founded in 1980, is an award winning publication and the only magazine in America devoted to the metal arts.
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