100 Years of Danish Silver Jewellery

From the collection of Marion and Jörg Schwandt

4. Erik Magnussen  1. Mogens Ballins Vaerksted  11. Thor Selzer

From August 15th at 3 p.m. to November 17th

The exhibition consists of 200 pieces of jewellery from the end of the 19th century to ca. 1970. The early years are represented with organically interlaced Art Nouveau jewellery in the Danish style, including iconic pieces from the workshops of such masters as Georg Jensen and Mogens Ballin. The equilibristic silversmith Erik Magnussen (1884 – 1961) is less well-known, but two of the best pieces in the exhibition derive from his workshop: a tortoiseshell brooch and a scarab pendant from the 1910s.

There are also excellent examples of Art Deco jewellery from the 1930s with the characteristic stringent form of the period. The sculptor Arno Malinowski (1899 – 1976) is one of the Danish artists who was primarily responsible for introducing the international style into Danish jewellery, exemplified by his dolphin and deer brooches. The Vejen Art Museum is preparing an exhibition in 2020 showing the breadth of Malinowski’s work, from sculpture to silver and ceramics, also including his deliberations about textile design.

The most recent pieces on display are sculptural, classical bracelets, rings and brooches from designers such as Henning Koppel (1918-1981) from the 1940s, Bent Knudsen (1924-1997) from the 1950s, Carl Gustav Hansen (1914-2002) from the 1960s, and Thor Seltzer (1925-1989) from the 1970s. The youngest works demonstrate designers’ and workshops’ renewed interest in the stringent geometrical forms and combination of materials typical of Art Deco.

In older times, Danish silver jewellery was most often assessed on the basis of the value of the materials. This changed significantly during the 19th century, when the middle-class became increasingly drawn by the individual artistic qualities of the artefacts: lovely shapes and exquisite craftsmanship. Over the last hundred years, this interest has inspired Danish designers to attain new aesthetic heights.

The jewellery in the exhibition has been selected with a foreign eye: the various pieces belong to the German couple, Marion and Jörg Schwandt. They have had a particular interest in Danish art for many years now, both acquiring and furthering interest in it through, for example, their gallery in Berlin.

The present exhibition of Danish jewellery takes up the thread of the first retrospective exhibition of works from Mogens Ballin’s workshop with a comprehensive display of jewellery, put on by The Vejen Art Museum in 2010. Mogens Ballin’s tireless advocacy of unpretentious materials such as coral, abalone shells, tin and silver rather than gold and precious stones was to a great degree responsible for promoting silversmith Georg Jensen’s interest in this choice of materials, which has since become recognised as typically Nordic.

The exhibition has been shown at the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts, Leipzig, the Bröhan Museum in Berlin, and the museum in Zons (7. 4. 2019 – 23. 6. 2019). Jörg Schwandt has documented the collection in ‘Simply Danish: Silver Jewellery, 20th Century’, Arnoldsche Art Publishers (2018).

Translation: Jeremy Watts