Tone Vigeland and Munich
Dr. Petra Hölscher is curator for the exhibition Tone Vigeland – Jewelry – Objects – Sculpture on show
10. March – 11. June 2017. This article is also published in Norwegian Crafts Paper # 1: Contemporary Jewellery that will be launched during the opening of Vigeland's exhibition.
Tone Vigeland – it is always with great reverence that the name of this grande dame of Norwegian studio jewelry is uttered – be it in New York, Tokyo, Copenhagen or here in Munich. Her unique oeuvre is highly respected by jewelry artists of all ages, museum curators and jewelry lovers alike and rightly so. Indeed, long before I had the privilege of meeting Vigeland in person, before I became responsible for the jewelry collection at Die Neue Sammlung, one particular item of jewelry by her in the Danner Rotunda, the jewelry space at Pinakothek der Moderne, always fascinated me. One of Vigeland’s necklaces was displayed in a large high wall-mounted glass case there. This item mesmerized me at the time and still mesmerizes me now. It consists of countless little tubes of rolled silver wire. Vigeland has strung these together in a starburst pattern on a network of mesh, thus creating a large piece. The little tubes plus the corresponding and equally large number of metal loops in the mesh network were all handcrafted by her. It is hard to imagine anything more delicate than these little tubes – they are only millimeters in diameter and all uniformly large and round – unfailingly so. And there is practically no other item in the Danner Rotunda that displays such a unique craftsman’s skill in working with metal. Vigeland wrests everything that is to be had from it, thus lending this necklace – as indeed is the case with all her work – the kind of archaic power that is perhaps only conceivable in northern Europe. An incredible piece of artistry!
Every year for more than ten years now, Die Neue Sammlung has honored one of the architects of studio jewelry with a solo show, in each case it is an artist who has truly made jewelry history. Some of them have formed relationships with Munich which could almost be deemed close, be it through their participation in exhibitions, the recipients of accolades or as members of juries. With Vigeland the situation is different. Her work was first shown here in 1987 at “Schmuckszene ‘87” as part of the IHM, the international fair for the crafts trades. In 2001 she contributed one of her famous steel nails to “Mikromegas”, the small-scale traveling exhibition which started out from Munich. She was invited to participate in “Modern Masters” at the IHM in 2004; the public was also given the opportunity to admire the above-mentioned necklace for the first time in the then recently opened Danner Rotunda. And thanks to the Danner Foundation it is now part of the collection in Munich. None of the three reputed guest curators – Hermann Jünger, Karl Fritsch and Otto Künzli – would have entertained the idea of leaving out this unique piece when planning a new selection of exhibits for the Danner Rotunda. Which is hardly surprising as it is an excellent example of her work. The sheer number of important international awards garnered by Vigeland and the exhibitions that have taken place in her honor all around the world also speak for themselves. Yet – works by this Norwegian artist are rarely to be found in mainland Europe apart from in the Nordic countries. And there has never been a solo show of her work here, in contrast to those that have been held in America and Japan. This means that although many admirers of Vigeland’s art are familiar with her work from books they have not been able to actually see it for themselves. Accordingly, the idea of being able to view and discover a bit more of Vigeland’s work has met with great interest. So what better time to devote an exhibition to her than 2017, her 80th year? Accordingly, some 150 of her fascinating pieces ranging from the early days of her artistic enterprise, the end of the 1950s, all the way through to her most recent pieces in 2016 will showcase Vigeland’s oeuvre in the field of jewelry and investigating her “artistic makeup”. One integral part of this oeuvre is her sculptural output – a foray into another dimension and a logical advance of her jewelry art. Which is why it is an absolute must for the Pinakothek der Moderne with its four focal areas – its collections of art, architecture, drawings and design.
Thanks to the collaboration with Norwegian Crafts, the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin and, once again, that of the Danner Foundation in Munich, the exhibition “Tone Vigeland. Schmuck – Objekt – Skulptur” (Tone Vigeland. Jewelry – objects – sculpture) will be on show in early 2017 as a Neue Sammlung project at Pinakothek der Moderne.
Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway has agreed to be the patron of the exhibition.