Josep Civit, Jewels, Objects and Paints

Exhibition  /  29 Nov 2023  -  22 Dec 2023
Published: 26.10.2023

© By the author. Read Copyright.

The jewel for me is essentially a small sculpture where plasticity and form come together, and, in addition, it can fulfill an ornamental and functional mission in the service of humanity. (...) When a piece of craftsmanship reaches the level of artwork, its value becomes naturally timeless. (...) In terms of substance, a jewel should not be conditioned by its appraisal (precious metals and gemstones) but rather by its artistic interest. / Batik Magazine, No. 36, Sep-Oct 1977.

Words from Josep Civit Giraut (Barcelona, 1927 - 2012), an artist and prominent figure in the field of new jewelry emerging in Catalonia, mainly from the second half of the 20th century.

Hannah Gallery has curated a selection of 30 works that showcase some of Civit's most interesting creative explorations. Although the exhibition primarily highlights the design of his jewelry, objects, and paintings will also be discovered. The various interpretations of his creativity provoke reflection on this iteration of geometric abstraction, influenced by the natural world and contemporary artistic trends.

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Artist list

Josep Civit
CIVIT: Geometric Dream
Text by Alex Mitrani. Art Historian

They are just jewellery, but what marvellous objects, what delicacy and what force! And they are within reach of the hand, displayed at the centre of the chest, next to the heart, but they can also be hidden, at times, behind the fold of clothing or inside a box, emerging on special occasions. Civit's jewels are subtle and refined pieces, but also brutalist and strong. They are objects that have a kind of entity of their own, that can be worn and caressed. We want to contemplate them and touch them at the same time. In them, we recognize affinities and parallelisms between various tendencies of avant-garde art in the second half of the 20th century. They evoke the elegant and optimistic times when abstraction and technology intertwined with craftsmanship and subjectivity to affirm the desire for a world that is evolutionary and happy. The fact that our world has evolved throughout history does not diminish their strength; on the contrary, they have a melancholic beauty that still vibrates with another active beauty. They help us resist.

We are restless in our present. Many seek clarity today. We need references that are not dogmatic but guide us in uncertainty. A moral and economic stance towards the future of civilization is urgent. Art, poetry, creation, the only meaningful and useful luxury (when it steers clear of snobbery or the vulgar industry of vanity,) is one of the answers. Not a solution, let's clarify, but a consolation, a tool for intimacy, for silence, for introspection. As valuable and fragile as time, true art manifests itself in humility and singularity: allowing us to spill over the edge, to step out of the unstoppable current of advertising banality and consumerist excitement. Creative jewellery can have a place in this movement of seeking authenticity, silence, discreet communication. This is its elegance: not mannerisms, but an intimate beauty, regardless of the materials used. Civit was a modern jeweller (of substantive modernity), but he probably did not think like this throughout his career, amongst the anxieties of the 21st century. Nevertheless, it is significant that his works today resonates with the sensibilities and concerns that we call civilized and that often express emotion, aesthetic intuition.

Civit always claimed himself as a goldsmith. Specialized critics and scholars of his jewellery notice his attention to technique and materials, where innovative spirit and love for the craft harmoniously combined. The careful selection by Amador Bertomeu and Leo Caballero, from Klimt02, allows us to appreciate the diversity and coherence of this creator. The pieces from the fifties are situated in the orbit of Informalism, which in Catalan jewellery had a manifestation with Feliu Via and Joan Josep Tharrats, advanced by the archaic and powerful textures of the jewellery of Ninon Collet, who happened to be Civit's mentor. In these works, textures are already fundamental, rough and fleshy, primitive. But there is already a tendency toward sorder, regular rhythms, framings that place a specific space that departs from the chaotic organicism of Informalism. These are the early influences of  Civit’s dominant style.

What distinguishes Civit is his commitment to geometric abstraction. In jewellery, Geometry is seen regularly, however in a wider context of visual arts, Geometric abstraction was rare.  Furthermore, this form of abstraction is unique in Catalan culture. In Catalonia, there’s a small selection of examples that vary in style: works by Planasdurà Joan Furriols, Salvador Saura or Xavier Franquesa, Sergi. It would be pertinent, therefore, to place him among these artists. But jewellery always remains, for better or for worse, in a gilded difference. In fact, Civit seems to be between two worlds: the philosophical and purist sophistication of Minimalism and the pop futurism of Paco Rabanne or James Bond films. Perhaps one of his strengths is how he finds a third way to develop abstract geometry and find a place for it in our imagination, a more private and modest place.

Towards the late seventies, his jewellery seems to have an especially mechanical and futuristic air, but it is done with restraint. The way of combining materials and introducing colour, the gentle waves or folds of the stone, the waters of the mineral, coexist in a sweet contrast with the tension of straight and orthogonal lines. There is a clear longing for serenity in Civit's jewellery, which also helps us understand his painting, more figurative but serene and ordered, with an air between the post-cubism of Miquel Vilà and the horizontal calm of Xavier Valls.
It seems to us that Civit does not want to take jewellery beyond what it is, beyond its origins (ornamental function, the permanence of noble material, celebrated and moulded, dimensions adapted to use on the body...) but he also does not want to limit himself to the conservative routine of traditional or folkloric jewellery. Within this framework, within these formal limits, he was able to develop a poetics with the portable object and thus create comforting, serene, refined amulets that can accompany us in life.

Alex Mitrani. Art Historian.


Josep Civit i Giraut (1927 - 2012)
Master Craftsman, Jeweler, Goldsmith, Painter, and Pilot of car racing.

Born in the Horta district of Barcelona in 1927. He worked in goldsmithing from the age of fourteen, apprenticing in the workshop of Jeweler Emili Estrader for six years. He complemented his training alongside the sculptor Charles Collet. In 1948, he established himself independently, where he began shaping his designs and creations of designer jewelry.
He participated in solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, and was recognized and awarded various distinctions, notably being acknowledged as a Master Craftsman in 1986.
In 1999, the Museum of Decorative Arts of Barcelona acquired different pieces of jewelry by Josep Civit i Giraut.
... Civit's crafted pieces respond to two distinct criteria. On the one hand, there is the investigative jewel in which the artistic aspect takes on a greater role: unique pieces where he experiments with materials and techniques he deems valid as plastic objects. On the other hand, there is the jewelry produced as a serialized piece, more commercial, in which, despite the repetition of the modeling, the finishes are done manually to maintain the artisanal aspect of the craft...
Àngels Canut, Josep Civit: the author's jewelry - Bonart Magazine No. 63 - 2005.
Solo Exhibitions
1964: Gold & Silversmith, Cercle Artistic d'Horta, Salo Biblioteca de la Caixa de Pensions, Barcelona.
1967: Gold & Silversmith, Sala Vayreda, Barcelona.
1975: Painting, Jewelry, and Objects, Sala Vayreda, Barcelona.
1976: Painting, Jewelry, and Objects, La Galeria de Vilanova, Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona).
1981: Jewelry and Painting, La Galeria de Vilanova, Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona).
1982: Sala Vayreda, Barcelona.
1983: La Galeria de Vilanova, Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona).
2005. Josep Civit. Joies. Galeria Hipòtesi, Barcelona.

Group Exhibitions
1964: Saló de Maig, Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu, Barcelona.
1967: Concurs-Selecció d'Arts Plàstiques (Selection-Competition of the Plastic Arts), Señal 67, Sala d'Exposicions de l'Escola d'Arts Aplicades i Oficis Artístics, Pati de l'Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu, Barcelona.
1968 to 1974 & 1981: Form und Qualitat Handwerkmesse, Munich (Germany).
1970: Artesania Española, Barcelona Filum Aureum, Hamburg (Germany).
1972: Schmuck Tendenzen, Schmuck Museum, Pforzheim (Germany).
1973: IV Bienal Internacional del Deporte en las Bellas Artes, Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, Madrid.
1975: V Bienal Internacional del Deporte en las Bellas Artes, Valencia.
1981: 1900-1980, 80 anys de joieria i orfebreria catalana, Centre Cultural de la Caixa de Pensions per a la Vellesa i d'Estalvis, Barcelona. Exhibition and Sale for Old Age Charity.
1991: Un Siglo de Joyería y Bisutería Española (A Century of Spanish Jewelry and Costume Jewelry 1890-1990), La Llotja, Palma de Mallorca (Touring show around Spain).
1992: X Bienal Internacional del Deporte en las Bellas Artes, Tecla Sala, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona).
1993: La Joia de la Joia (The Jewel of Jewels), El Tinell, Barcelona.
2001: El Laboratory de la Joieria (Jewelry Laboratory) 1940-1990, Museu de les Arts Decoratives, Barcelona.
1967: Diploma de Distincio Señal 67, Barcelona.
1971: 2on Premi de Trofeus i Bienal Internacional del Deporte en las Bellas Artes, Barcelona.
1975: Distinció amb Medalla a la Fase Selectiva de la V Bienal Internacional del Deporte en las Bellas Artes, Valencia.
1986: On the instigation by the Gremi de Joiers de Barcelona, receives the Carta de Mestre Artesà de Catalunya, awarded by the Departament d'Industria i Energia de la Generalitat de Catalunya in recognition of his expertise in the field.

Civit, pintures, joies, objectes. J.M. Garrut. Filograf, Barcelona, 1975
Josep Civit i Girait. Joies. Josep Civit, Maria Luïsa Samaranch, Maria Àngels Canut. Sd·Edicions, Barcelona, 2005.
Encuesta a la joyeria catalana. Batik documentos. Nº36 Sept - Oct 1977.
El laboratori de la joieria 1940-1990. Mònica Gaspar, editora. Museu de les arts decoratives. Museu Tèxtil i d'Indumentària. Ajuntament Barcelona, 2007.