John Iversen: A Designing Nature

Exhibition  /  09 Jul 2010  -  01 Aug 2010
Published: 30.06.2010
John Iversen. Brooch: Honesty in Dreams, 2010. 14k gold. 3 x 3 inches. Photo R. Hensleigh. John Iversen
Brooch: Honesty in Dreams, 2010
14k gold
3 x 3 inches
Photo R. Hensleigh
© By the author. Read Copyright.

The artist shows more than fifty new pieces. Every four or five years, Iversen introduces something entirely new. While the title of this Patina exhibition, A Designing Nature, refers to his classic Nature series, it also references his own, infinitely creative nature.

Artist list

John Iversen
In addition to his signature, nature inspired jewelry, artist John Iversen introduces completely new work in this, his second Patina exhibition. Iversen's works refelct an aesthetic that balances organic elegance with graphic strength. The classic, yet evolving nature of his works insure his place among the important jewelry artists of our time.

“Artist,” the word catches in his throat. Raised in Germany, where the word “artist” is employed somewhat more strictly, John Iversen does not presume to be one. “Artist is something that the critics, the public, history, bestow upon you.” With the receipt of the prestigious Herbert Hofmann Preiz at this year’s International Jewelry Show in Munich, Iversen just might consider himself an 
artist, now. He received the honor for a new group of jewelry works that he titles, Fragments.

The New York based artist brings more than fifty new pieces to the exhibition. People familiar with John Iversen’s work will not be surprised by the new direction his Fragments series represents. Every four or five years, he introduces something entirely new. While the title of this Patina exhibition, A Designing Nature, refers to his classic Nature series, it also references his own, infinitely creative nature.

The Nature series has established Iversen among collectors of studio jewelry and offers myriad variations of twigs and blossoms, acorns, leaves and the like. What separates this jewelry from others utilizing similar motifs is the quality of Iversen’s design, sense of scale and combination of elements. These are rendered with great detail in silver, usually oxidized silver, and 18k gold, often in combination. He embellishes this work with opaque stones like pale and deep orange corals, pearls, black jade, bright blue lapis and green chrysoprase, tiny diamonds, too. The quality is feminine and elegant with a broad appeal that crosses generations and fashion tastes. Since the introduction of that series, Iversen’s work has grown more abstract. While still continuing the organic Nature series, he began a move several years ago toward the inorganic. The Pebble series eschews the detailed intricacy of flowers and stems, in favor of mounding, sculptural forms. Usually worn as earrings or joined together in necklaces or bracelets, their interest resides in 
voluptuous shapes and the texture of their surface.

After a time, he began imagining the interior of the Pebbles and tried slicing them open. This is how the important Enamel series came about. The soft organic shapes of the enamel elements 
derive from the sliced Pebbles and the outline of the exposed edge. The character of this group is different from previous works but directly related to them. In these, he combines soft ovoid shapes created by slicing the Pebbles, with the color of the Nature series. He retains the colors and organic shapes but reduces both to a most minimal expression, brilliant for its simplicity. Examples of this work can be found in New York’s Museum of Art and Design.
Iversen is clearly excited about the new Fragments series for which he received the Hofmann Preiz. His flawless craftsmanship and sophisticated design achieve prefect harmony in the work. Each piece is painstakingly created using a jeweler’s hand saw to cut a sheet of metal into tiny, fitted shapes. After he de-constructs, he reconstructs, by joining the tiny pieces with impeccable 
linking. A rigid sheet of gold or silver metal is reassembled into a fluid, draping work of art.

Iversen delights in the way the metal moves with the wearer. “Kinetic types of things have always been a part of my work. I guess I like things that feel fluid rather than big, solid structures. My new brooch reads as something fragile. It is totally flexible, like a skin that conforms to the body. Almost like a fabric, it molds to contours.”

“This work is very graphic but I suppose the graphic element has always been present in my work. I have a tendency to reduce and keep things minimal... Even my pearl pins from the Nature series, though they are outgoing and dramatic, are also subtlely graphic. They are very different from this new work.”
In truth, it is still not likely that John Iversen will accept the “artist” label. He comes to jewelry making as a craftsman and feels that being known as an excellent one is sufficient. As his work evolves over time, it reveals a progression of ideas and aesthetic that goes beyond the technical mastery of a craftsman. In the end, of course, it does not matter what word we use to describe John Iversen. What matters is how we perceive his work. For other metalsmiths and collectors, it inspires awe.