Georg Jensen and Georg Jensen, Inc. will be Honored with 2006 Collab Design Excellence Award on November 17; Georg Jensen Silversmiths on view November 17, 2006-March 2007
Acclaimed Danish silversmith Georg Jensen (1866–1935) and the renowned group of designers who helped establish the company he founded as one of the world’s most important silverwares firms will be the subject of Georg Jensen Silversmiths, on view in the Museum’s Contemporary Design Gallery (170) from November 17, 2006 to March 2007. The exhibition will feature some 40 examples of Georg Jensen Inc.’s innovative flatware and holloware, including original design drawings for many of the objects. The exhibition is supported by Collab: The Group for Modern and Contemporary Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which will honor Georg Jensen and Georg Jensen, Inc. with the 2006 Design Excellence Award at the November 17 opening.
“Georg Jensen forged a unique new style that was at once universal and versatile,” says Kathryn Hiesinger, Curator of Decorative Arts after 1700 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Whether a teapot richly decorated with natural forms or a centerpiece left chastely simple, each Jensen object is a complete sculptural statement defined by the clarity of its contours.” In addition to examples of Jensen’s own designs, objects by many of the artists whose work has helped define the Georg Jensen style over the years will also be on view, including Johan Rohde, Harald Nielsen, Sigvard Bernadotte, Soren Georg Jensen, Henning Koppel, Magnus Stephensen, and Verner Panton. Among the highlights will be drawings for and pieces from Georg Jensen’s celebrated 1905 Blossom service—the lids are decorated with a full magnolia bud—and silverwares and drawings by Soren Georg Jensen and Henning Koppel, whose abstract, expressive shapes in the mid-20th century led the firm in new directions that have continued to the present.
About Georg Jensen
Georg Jensen was born in Radvaad, Denmark, a small, scenic country village north of Copenhagen. At the age of 14, he was apprenticed to a silversmith in Copenhagen, and went on to study sculpture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he was admitted in 1887. Upon graduation in 1892 at the age of 25, Jensen made and exhibited his sculpture, but supported himself as a ceramics modeler, first at the Bing & Grøndahl porcelain factory and then in an independent partnership with Christian Joachim. Their work won Jensen recognition and a travel grant to Paris, Rome, and Florence. Jensen returned to the silversmithing trade and by 1904 opened his first shop on a fashionable street in Copenhagen. “A genius of silver design in his own right, Jensen promoted the work of his collaborators and his success grew internationally,” said Hiesinger. He opened shops in Berlin (1909), Stockholm and Paris (1918), London (1921), and New York (1924), and won prizes at international exhibitions in San Francisco (1915), Barcelona (1923), and Paris (1925). After 1924, Jensen’s involvement with the firm was limited, although he remained its artistic director until his death in 1935. Examples of Jensen’s work can be seen in collections throughout the world, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the National Gallery, Melbourne; the National Museum, Stockholm; and the Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen.
The Georg Jensen Style
Jensen’s early training as a sculptor and silversmith influenced his designs and the idyllic landscape of his childhood was reflected in his work throughout his career. His interest in nature and natural forms was also in keeping with Art Nouveau principles current in Paris and elsewhere at the turn of the century. Jensen drew inspiration from fruits, leaves, and flowers, translating them into silver ornaments. Like other modern artists and craftsmen, he preserved the evidence of process that went into the making of a work, often enriching the surface of his silverwares with visible hammer marks.
Collab, a non-profit organization founded in 1970, raises funds for the Philadelphia Museum of Art's modern and contemporary design collection, which now includes over 1000 mass-produced, limited series, and unique works. The collection ranges from appliances and furniture to ceramics, glass, metalwork, and works on paper. Collab presents its prestigious annual Design Excellence Award to a design professional who has made a significant contribution to the field. Past honorees include Florence Knoll Bassett, Milton Glaser, Michael Graves, Jonathan Ive, Maya Lin, Ingo Maurer, Richard Meier, George Nakashima, Gaetano Pesce, Karim Rashid, Philippe Starck with Ian Schrager, and Robert Venturi. Collab also promotes public understanding and appreciation of contemporary design through its educational initiatives, including sponsorship of symposia, lectures, tours, and a citywide, college-level student design competition.
Collab will hold its 14th Annual Student Design Competition at the Museum on Monday, November 13. This year, students will design an “intelligent ornament”, inspired by Georg Jensen who was a pioneer of ornamental design in his era. Winning projects will be on public display for several weeks following the competition.