Friday, 21 November 2014

Bright metal mastery

Two excellent books about Georg Jensen: Jewelry was published by Yale in 2005 (ISBN 0300107064Georg Jensen Silver and design was published in 2004 to celebrate the a hundred years of the company.  I found it a first class history of the company, well illustrated and designed.  The publisher was the Danish Gads Forlag (ISBN 8712041300) copies can be found on the net and the Jensen shops sell copies.

A very handsomely produced coffee-table book about the mastery of the Georg Jensen silversmithy. It is though basically a visual celebration and not a history in words. The large size allows selected works from seven designers to be shown with huge enlargements. They are: Jensen; Johan Rohde; Harald Nielsen; Sigvard Bernadotte; Henning Koppel; Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube; Vernon Panton and a few others in pages near the back of the book in a chapter called Collaboration.

I've been buying Jensen silver for years (as my parents did before me) and I love Koppel's work, the work shown in his chapter was particularly interesting to me though I thought it was a pity some of his watches aren't shown or the stunning wave bowl.

A really nice feature is the use of drawings from the Jensen archive showing various jewelery and silver ware and a photo of the real thing. Other color photos, in close-up, bring out the Jensen craftsmanship. It's worth saying that most of the photos in the book are not hard pin-sharp studio ones but what might be called artistic shots, always tastefully done and I think this makes them come alive and show of character of the work.

Despite the excellence of the photography, paper and printing the book has a couple of editorial flaws. The headings and text (fortunately not too much of this) are printed in silver which makes it hard to read in the wrong light, captions are on whole page photos, usually in white but these pages frequently face pages with a photo and generous margins which would easily take the captions.

The book is really a snap-shot to show you how wonderful Jensen silver looks. A comprehensive overview of jewelry can be found in Georg Jensen Jewelry (Published in Association with the Bard Graduate Centre for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture) and the only worthwhile history is Georg Jensen: Silver and Design . This was published in 2004 to celebrate a hundred years of the company, beautifully designed with excellent color photos, hard to find on the net but I think all the Jensen shops still sell copies. Avoid the really dreadful looking 1997 Schiffer book (and the reprint).

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