What an anniversary celebration: in 2008, the Munich Academy of Fine Arts celebrates its 200 year anniversary. The class for jewelry and equipment deserves particular mention. Here, the art of goldsmithing is taught using a multi-faceted, unconventional and non-dogmatic approach.
Jiro Kamata, Japan: Tesa brooch, 2003. Tesa film, silver, stainless steel, 8x4x2 cm
Helen Britton, Australia: Brooch “Watergarden”, 2003. Silver, glass, plastic, color, 10x6x4 cm
Lisa Walker, New Zealand: Brooch, 2006. Rubbish from Lisa Walker’s studio floor, Ø 7 cm
Alexander Blank, Germany: Pendant “Tank”, 2006. Silver, bed linen, various plastics, 10x 4.2×4 cm
The class for jewelry and equipment at the Academy of Fine Arts and its international network have made a significant contribution to Munich’s reputation as one of the leading international centers for designer jewelry. Since 1991, the course has been headed by Swiss goldsmith Professor Otto Künzli.
His students are by no means all from Germany (currently, German students account for around 35% of the total) – they come from all over the world: Korea, Australia, Japan, Denmark, France, Holland, the USA and many other countries. The internationally renowned course is characterized by its internationality and diversity, resulting from its heterogenous cultural composition as well as a delicate balance between individuality and team spirit. To mark its 200 year anniversary, the Munich Academy of Fine Arts is holding an exhibition of the works of this unique jewelry course as well as publishing a comprehensive brochure entitled ‘Des Wahnsinns fette Beute’ (The fat booty of madness) which presents more than 1,000 images of works by 77 former graduates of Künli’s course as well as its current students. This standard work also contains an additional lexical section of graduate biographies from 1935 onwards. The early professors of the jewelry course include Franz Rickert (1904-1991) and Hermann Jünger (1928-2005).
David Phillips, Australia: Brooch “Burned Jewelry”, 2005. Pringles can, stainless steel, epoxy, h. 15 cm, Ø 6 cm
Bettina Speckner, Germany: Brooch, 2006. Ferrotype, silver, rubies, mirror
Emotional, provoking, conceptual, imaginative, risky, profound, crazy, rebellious, colorful, strict, personal, sophisticated, playful… each of these terms describes the art of jewelry-making at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts which led to the tongue-in-cheek title of ‘The fat booty of madness’. One special feature of Künzli’s course that it steers clear of terminological terms such as ‘author jewelry’ and ‘conceptual jewelry’, focusing instead on making ‘jewelry’, as explained by Austrian art historian Maribel Königer in the foreword to the publication. Otto Künzli and his students place great importance on making jewelry which has something which art has now lost in these days of reproducibility: aura. The aura of jewelry is described less in terms of materials, colors and forms, says Königer, and more in terms of how it is worn on the body, creating a strong link with the individual wearing the jewelry – which prevents popular reproducibility. Otto Künzli confirms this theory: “We are proud to be applied artists in the sense that we see our strengths as lying in the specific connection made between the object and person, something which is unique to jewelry, “ he says of this viewpoint.
Judit Pschibl, Germany: Chain, 2007. Fabric, acrylic color, pigment, sand, l. 100 cm
Doris Betz, Germany: Bracelet, 1997. Hostaglass, iron wire, Ø 7 cm, w. 3.3 cm
Mirei Takeuchi, Japan: Necklace “mirei”, 2003. Tights, l. 60 cm
Karl Fritsch, Germany: Ring, 2005. Silver, oxidized, glass stones
Wild, unconventional, passionate
‘Imagine the opposite’ – this is Otto Künzli’s recommendation to students who don’t know what to do with their work next. The art academy’s 54 graduates and current 23 students seem to have done well for themselves by following their professor’s philosophy. 89% of the academy’s former students now work as artists of which 88.41% work in the jewelry and equipment sector. When visiting the exhibition or reading the publication, readers are sure to recognize many famous names including Peter Bauhuis, David Bielander, Helen Britton, Karl Fritsch, Mielle Harvey, Christian Hoedl, Mari Ishikawa, Jiro Kamata, Karen Pontoppidan and Bettina Speckner, to name but a few. The diversity of their works could not be any greater, according to Otto Künzli.
Mielle Harvey, USA: Brooch “Sphinx moth”, 2001. Mammoth ivory, rubies, color, gold, w. 5 cm
Norman Weber: Brooch “Portrait # 5”, 2006. Black silver, varnish, sublimation print, 11.7×15.7×5 cm
Yuka Oyama, Japan: Quickies jewelry, Echigo-Tsumari, Japan, 2003
“Between the wild and unconventional bursts of unrestricted imagination lie silent, tender and poetical works. Political and social content are also transformed into jewelry like messages of gentle and violent love. There are signs of passion and mourning. At the same time, there is insight into the eerie and the hidden. By contrast, transitional forms are in fashion. Some things stand up to the test of time, others are rooted in tradition. Memories, fragments, souvenirs, findings. Private myths are told. Subtle ironies meet crude humor.” The full extent of this ‘madness’ can be seen from 1st March until the end of May 2008 in Munich.