The World as a Composition

Article  /  ArtistsArnoldsche
Published: 03.03.2015
Angelika Nollert
. Photo by Anna Seibel Angelika Nollert
Photo by Anna Seibel
Angelika Nollert
Edited by:
Galerie Spektrum
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The decision concerning the way in which the piece of jewellery should be worn, is delegated by Marianne Schliwinski to the wearer. Her works are subtle. They are poetical in their sensitivity; they are narrative in their referentiality, and attentive in their motives. Her artistic strategy consists of the assemblage, communal viewing and the combination of forms, of raw materials and things, of objects hung, carried or worn on the body or within a spatial context.
In a career spanning more than five decades, Marianne Schliwinski has created an extensive oeuvre, which in its diversity of content and design is a very individual and stringent compilation.
Quite early on in her jewellery-making, she enriched her works with objets d'art and photography, and indeed in two senses. She integrated 'found' objects and images into her jewellery, and above all however, she expanded her artistic work with the inclusion of this medium.

The works of Marianne Schliwinski are subtle. They are poetical in their sensitivity; they are narrative in their referentiality, and attentive in their motives. Her artistic strategy consists of the assemblage, communal viewing and the combination of forms, of raw materials and things, of objects hung, carried or worn on the body or within a spatial context. Her assemblages are compositions, which bring together the individual elements into a worthy appreciation and bequeath them with a new meaning via their new context. The materials she utilises are just as natural as they are exceptional. The precious metals - gold and silver - are used relatively seldom, even then in leaf form, processed onto surfaces. It is usually a case of using objets trouvés, materiali poveri and fragments.

One of the artist's works, created in the early 80s is called 'Fixierte Bewegung' (fixed movement). Three yellow and three red hula hoops are alternatingly combined by a framework. Rubber bands are fixed so that the circlet can be statically attached to the body. Marianne Schliwinski thus defined perhaps the most classical form of jewellery anew - the ring. A body-ring emerges, as it were, from a finger ring. From the sports article, a hula hoop, which can only be held to the body via movement, a fixed piece of jewellery has emerged. With its size, this ring makes the wearing of it deliberately conscious, but it is however also an extension of the body which emphasises its stand and its centre.

Marianne Schliwinski
Phot0: Fixed Movement, 1982
b/w photograh

A shard of glass whose form, despite a corner broken off, suggesting a trapezoidal shape, becomes a pendant on a necklace that is composed of a total of seventeen spirals connected to one another. The individual spirals are of twisted iron wire with Tahitian pearls placed at their centre, and in turn green pigment is embedded into the centres of these. Three of these spirals - of which the central one has a red glass bead - lead from the circular arrangement vertically downward to the pendant. The iron wire surrounds the shard of glass at its upper edge, and just as plant stalks end in blooms, the wires here end in pearls. Through the choice of the classical collier necklace form, and through the elegant colouring scheme of black, green, red, in combination with transparency, this piece of jewellery from 2002 initially appears very precious. However, when one looks more closely, it becomes obvious that the value of the piece does not result from the materials used, but from its aesthetically refined design. The shard of glass itself has a decoration of concentric rings, and thus the artist takes up this theme as the pattern for her design of the spiral necklace elements. The complementarily coloured pearls give light, the irregularity of the spirals and the damage to the shard however break up the austerity of geometric forms. Once again, Marianne Schliwinski changes a traditional piece of jewellery by means of size, material and application.

The decision concerning the way in which the piece of jewellery should be worn, is delegated by Marianne Schliwinski to the wearer. A double-sided chain, that is, which can be worn either way around, is named 'Schönheitengalerie' from 2012. The artist discovered old, small and round porcelain discs in a shop, onto which she produced female portraits. The images originate from the so-called Schönheitengalerie (gallery of beauties) that Louis I of Bavaria had commissioned, whose pictures today hang in Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. The portraits are of Munich women of noble as well as bourgeoise birth. Marianne Schliwinski selected ten from a total of thirty six of these paintings in order to arrange them as porcelain pictures at regular intervals along the necklace. These beauties are depicted as bust portraits and, as well as their elaborate clothing and coiffure, they wear jewellery that documents the status of those portrayed. The wearing of this necklace consequently symbolises the wearing of images of wo-men who in turn are decorated with jewellery themselves. The wearer of this necklace consequently stands in analogy to such an image herself. This effect is increased through the central oval that is filled with a mirror. The wearer herself now completes the series of images via her (possible) own mirror image. On the other side of the necklace the porcelain tablets have been left in their original condition. The white and purist monochrome of the necklace's pendants stand in obvious contrast to the idealising fine art of the reverse.
Mariane Schliwinski
Necklace: Schönheitengalerie foreside, 2009
Fine silver, old porcellaine disks, mirror, laminated photos

With her objets d'art, Marianne Schliwinski goes one step further. Her series of 'containers' consists of a number of spherical receptacles that are made of papier mâché coloured with lacquers and pigments. The irregular rim form and the specific structure of the body point to the method of manufacture. The sizes of these objects vary between small vessels and large-scale, expansive versions. The strength of their presence as well as the power of their colourfulness and design, stand in contradiction to the actual lightness of the objects. If one looks into these vessels, it can be seen that the hollows and the sides are often decorated with images. It is a question here also of shots of people or portrait images, which Marianne Schliwinski has collected from magazines or books. One thus finds the bust portrait of a lady in Pompeian painting just the same as an image of Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren - all such pictures that have attained an iconic fame. It is here however once again a matter of images of personalities who, above all, define themselves through their jewellery, coiffure and particular attire. The specific mounting of the pictures recalls apotropaic drawings on vessels from antiquity in the same way as patchworks of picture cards. They merge into their own material level so that the vessels literally attain their own ambiguity. In the sense of a storage of collective impressions of those portrayed, one can also interpret the title 'containers.'

Marianne Schliwinski
Bowl/container: Grosse Schale, 2011
Papier mâchée, paint, mirror

Marianne Schliwinski's photographs themselves demonstrate her interest in the overlaying of levels of images and meaning. The artist has found her topics during her journeys in the landscape, in the towns and within the architecture. Through her selection of motifs and the respective picture detail she is able to provide subjects which already exist, with a voice. She provides them with attention, and calls attention to them - she creates new correlations.
One series of photographs shows convex driveway safety mirrors, which practically take up the entire surface of each image. Only the background points to their location: vegetation, mountains, and the sky are the unspecific characteristics of the landscape. The reflection itself displays the opposite situation in a larger detail. The artist's flat camera image thus stands in contrast to the panorama-like expanded segment of the image formed by the convex curvature of the driveway mirrors. These safety mirrors form an echo to the camera's reflection. The reflected trees and the houses in their form of construction suggest Italy, and the title 'Una Passeggiata' is its name. There is, once again, a picture-within-a-picture motif, and here too, this image-within-an-image is the influential element. But also the design of the mirror is of considerable interest to the jewellery artist, because the form of the circular and framed mirror suggests a locket that frames a photograph. Marianne Schliwinski thus transforms signs into decorative embellishments, whose motif is defined by the landscape. However, here the reflection motif is not a static one, and it changes with the time of day and the season, in exactly the same way as with the perspective of the observer.

Marianne Schliwinski
Photo: Una passeggiata, 2005-2007
C print

Photographed from the inside, window openings with their specific internal structuring frequently appear as a framing and also a work-surface for images outside of them and/or the reflection of the internal. As a work in progress, Marianne Schliwinski photographed such window situations that combine various spatial gradations and content within one image plane. The framing of the windows again form an analogy to the diverse impressions of the pieces of jewellery. Therefore, it seems only natural to interpret the window images as pieces of jewellery, and the pieces of jewellery as window images. In this sense, Marianne Schliwinski portrays the everyday world as a composed image. That these window situations have often been photographed in a museum context, amplifies the analogy of the artwork and the 'found' picture. The title 'Schauen um zu sehen'  (look, in order to see) invites the observer to discover these pictures.

How very much the artist understands jewellery, media and photography as one entity, is demonstrated in her series 'Venezianische Facetten' (Venetian facets). Marianne Schliwinski collected shards and splinters of glass washed up by the sea on Murano, often including remains of figures or floral forms, which she later processed into jewellery. She valued the materially worthless materials in their beauty and transformed them into souvenirs. Marianne Schliwinski then returned to Venice with these necklaces and brooches in order to develop a series of photographs of how Venetians would wear this jewellery in their everyday life. This jewellery, just as much as the photography itself, is an artistic work of art by Marianne Schliwinski. However, it is only in photography that she can demonstrate how important the context of wearing jewellery is to her, and how in each situation the wearing of certain pieces of jewellery changes.

Marianne Schliwinski
Necklace: Il faro di Murano, 1997-1998
Venetian found glass, 750 gold

The works of Marianne Schliwinski incorporate ever more levels, in their materiality just as much as with their substantial connections. She deploys her artistic strategy of composition in her design of jewellery and in her objets d'art, as well as in her photography in equal measure, and among each other. Motif, framing, medium and photography thus synthetically devolve into something new.

This text is originary published at the book Marianne Schliwinski: Beyond the Wall of Books.
Portrait of the author by: Anna Seibel

About the author

Angelika Nollert is Art historian, was assistant of Okwui Enwezor at the Documenta 11, in 2002,  worked at "Siemens Art programs" from 2002 to 2007, director of the "Neue Museum" in Nurenberg from 2007 to 2014 and since May 2014 director of "Die Neue Sammlung", Munich.