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Craving the Essentials by Robert Smit

Exhibition  /  16 Jan 2022  -  24 Apr 2022
Published: 21.01.2022
Craving the Essentials by Robert Smit.
CODA Museum
Curator:
Rianne Groen
Management:
Carin Reinders
.

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Intro
An overview of the rich and varied oeuvre of visual artist Robert Smit. Although he mainly gained fame as a jewellery maker, this exhibition shows the wide range of his oeuvre and his development as a visual artist. Craving the Essentials combines his photography, drawings, and recent digital prints with jewellery from museological and private collections from the Netherlands and abroad. The exhibition also includes works by Robert Smit that CODA acquired over the past decades.

Artist list

Robert Smit
The work of Robert Smit (1941) occupies a unique position and is averse to trends, hypes and dogmas. The main characteristic of his oeuvre and development is undoubtedly the way Smit continuously explores and questions his own method. Smit trains as an instrument maker but soon specialises in jewellery making. In the early 1970s, he turns away from jewellery, however. He sees jewellery as visual art and does not agree with the general view on jewellery at the time, which solely focusses on the artisanal aspect or the design of jewellery. He sells his goldsmithing tools and decides to focus on drawing and painting. During this period, he makes Towards the Liberation of Drawings, a series of ten exhibitions that chart his search for the meaning, significance and context of drawing. When he eventually returns to jewellery making, this period will prove to have had great influence on his development. Drawing always remains a source of making, remaking and reproducing for Smit.

In 1985, Smit decides that his exploration of drawing is completed and that there is nothing more to add. This conclusion gives him the freedom to refocus on jewellery. His comeback, marked by the exhibition Ornamentum Humanum at Galerie Ra in Amsterdam, causes great controversy. Smit’s exuberant gold jewellery clashes with the geometric and austere style that is in vogue at the time. During this period, precious metal smiths and artists revolt against the notion that jewellery should be appreciated based on material, rather than on actual design. Gold as a material is abandoned, and there is a growing aversion to a product that has investment value. Gijs Bakker, one of the leading designers of that period, calls Smit’s use of gold a return to jewellery as a status symbol, and therefore regression. Smit is not impressed and uses gold as it has never been used before: he curls it, scratches it, flattens it and prints on it.


About Robert Smit
Robert Smit trained as an instrument maker, after which he began working as a goldsmith. Thanks to visual artist Jan Schoonhoven, he becomes interested in jewellery and artistry. He decides to attend the renowned Pforzheim college, where he is taught by Klaus Ullrich (1927-1998) and eventually graduates with honours. Smit’s early jewellery works is characterised by a unique visual language, with his sculptural and abstract works reflecting his preference for texture and erosion of and on surfaces. Gold quickly acquires a crucial role in Smit’s work, and the influence of prominent visual artists of that period, like Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), can be traced in his pierced jewellery made of gold and Perspex. As opposed to many traditional goldsmiths, Smit uses the material in an expressive and pictorial manner.
 
Robert Smit. Necklace: Opal, 1989. Gold, paint.. 11.2 x 7 cm. Photo by: Robert Smit. Part of: Private Collection. Robert Smit
Necklace: Opal, 1989
Gold, paint.
11.2 x 7 cm
Photo by: Robert Smit
Part of: Private Collection
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Robert Smit. Brooch: Madonna con Bambino, 2001. Gold, silver, lead, paint, lead. Part of: Private Collection. Robert Smit
Brooch: Madonna con Bambino, 2001
Gold, silver, lead, paint, lead
Part of: Private Collection
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Wall Prints, Blow-ups, Robert Smit, 1977.
. On the left: drawings Stedelijk Museum.Title: 'Displaced poem (my proposition is to displace a poem of me'. 3 x 4.8 m.
. On the right:Blow up. Title: 'Visscherskinderen' Photo, ±1900, 3 x 4.8 m..
Wall Prints, Blow-ups, Robert Smit, 1977.
On the left: drawings Stedelijk Museum.Title: 'Displaced poem (my proposition is to displace a poem of me'. 3 x 4.8 m.
On the right:Blow up. Title: 'Visscherskinderen' Photo, ±1900, 3 x 4.8 m.

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Blow-ups on wall. Visscherskinderen, 1900. Executed 2021 by Robert Smit..
Blow-ups on wall. Visscherskinderen, 1900. Executed 2021 by Robert Smit.

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Robert Smit. Necklace: Cwrt from All pant-y-dderwen, 2014. Gold, silver, paint.. 11.7 x 11.6 x 0.9 cm. Photo by: Aldo Smit. Part of: Private Collection. Unique piece. Robert Smit
Necklace: Cwrt from All pant-y-dderwen, 2014
Gold, silver, paint.
11.7 x 11.6 x 0.9 cm
Photo by: Aldo Smit
Part of: Private Collection
Unique piece
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Robert Smit. Necklace: Letter to Madonna delle Dolmiti, 2011. Gold, paint. 21 x 19. 5 x 4 cmm. Part of: Private Collection. Unique piece. Robert Smit
Necklace: Letter to Madonna delle Dolmiti, 2011
Gold, paint
21 x 19. 5 x 4 cmm
Part of: Private Collection
Unique piece
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Robert Smit. Necklace: Land of Water, 2017. Ink on canvas on tinplate, painted silver and gold, white gold, silver.. 12.6 x 12.6 x 1 cm. Photo by: Aldo Smit. Umique piece. Robert Smit
Necklace: Land of Water, 2017
Ink on canvas on tinplate, painted silver and gold, white gold, silver.
12.6 x 12.6 x 1 cm
Photo by: Aldo Smit
Umique piece
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Left Wall: Blow-up from the necklace ‘Aquarel 2’. Material: ink on tinplate. 2021. Size left wall: 3 x 5.5 m.
. Right Wall: Blow-up from a chalk drawing on black cardboard. 1978. Size right wall: 3 x 5.5 m..
Left Wall: Blow-up from the necklace ‘Aquarel 2’. Material: ink on tinplate. 2021. Size left wall: 3 x 5.5 m.
Right Wall: Blow-up from a chalk drawing on black cardboard. 1978. Size right wall: 3 x 5.5 m.

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Photo of show case, with prints and the real works by Robert Smit..
Photo of show case, with prints and the real works by Robert Smit.

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Robert Smit. Necklace: Ships at Sea, 1996. Gold, lead, silver, paint.. 20 x 16 x 1 cm. Photo by: Robert Smit. Part of: Private Collection. Photo of Erasmus show case, with prints and the real works.
. Unique piece. Robert Smit
Necklace: Ships at Sea, 1996
Gold, lead, silver, paint.
20 x 16 x 1 cm
Photo by: Robert Smit
Part of: Private Collection
Photo of Erasmus show case, with prints and the real works.
Unique piece
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Photo of Showcase with Brooch Letters to Madonna delle Dolomiti, 1957-2010, Robert Smit, 2014.
. Print on painted tin plate 0,2 mm, gold.
. 18.5 x 7.4 x 3.5 cm.
Photo of Showcase with Brooch Letters to Madonna delle Dolomiti, 1957-2010, Robert Smit, 2014.
Print on painted tin plate 0,2 mm, gold.
18.5 x 7.4 x 3.5 cm

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Robert Smit, Everyday adorment, 1975. Photograph.
. Exhibited in 1975 in the V&A Museum, London..
Robert Smit, Everyday adorment, 1975. Photograph.
Exhibited in 1975 in the V&A Museum, London.

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In this video, curator Rianne Groen talks to Robert Smit about his work and the exhibition at CODA.

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Exhibition display view.
Exhibition display view

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Exhibition display view.
Exhibition display view

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Exhibition display view.
Exhibition display view

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