Abstract Art Brooches. A Pictorial Language Employed by Contemporary Jewellers. Spotlight Artworks by Klimt02

Article  /  CriticalThinking   History
Published: 08.11.2023
Abstract Art Brooches. A Pictorial Language Employed by Contemporary Jewellers. Spotlight Artworks by Klimt02.
Klimt02, Cécile Maes
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Abstract Art aims to capture the invisible essence of things. By distinguishing the painting itself from its representations and renowned for its refusal to represent the tangible world, abstract painting frequently inspires contemporary jewellery.
In this brief, we present you a selection of relevant pieces, using the brooch as a medium for artistic reflection, questioning the painting in its autonomy.
​Let's travel back to the beginning of the 20th century. Modern scientific advances are challenging our perception of reality. The theory of relativity, the study of colours, and the development of quantum physics influenced a revolutionary artistic movement that emerged around 1910: The Abstract Art.

Distinguished by their rejection of faithfully representing the tangible world, Abstract artists aim to capture the invisible essence of things. Like theorists, they explore a new emotional language, and, like musicians, they compose with colours, shapes, lines, and gestures. The goal is to achieve a pictorial quintessence, an artistic dimension transcending the visible world. 

With a pin, a clasp, or a fastening at the back, the brooch is a piece of jewellery with the fewest technical constraints. Much like a blank canvas to invest in, contemporary jewellery artists have deliberately eliminated any references to specific subjects. This can be challenging, considering that jewellery is an object laden with historical, social, and material references.

I couldn't introduce this topic without mentioning the German artist Hermann Jünger, one of the pioneers and initiators of contemporary jewellery. With classical training in goldsmithing, Hermann rethought the role of the jewellery itself, breaking away from traditional practices and conventions, which expanded its scope and opened new paths for future generations.

In his pieces, Hermann Jünger freely composes with the shapes and colours of stones or enamels he uses to create a pictorial language of thought, prioritising sensitivity over technical perfection. He creates images using signs and pictorial gestures, which bring a rhythmic quality to the reading of his work.

Hermann Jünger: Broach, 1967. Gold, silver, enamel and Drawings for Brooches, 1967. Watercolor

Hermann Jünger: Untitled, 1977. Silver, enamel   >> More about this artwork and the author   

Furthermore, while Hermann Jünger reshaped the landscape of contemporary jewellery through his innovative approaches, Robert Smit returned to jewellery in 1984 after leaving it in 1972 for painting due to the limited scope of experimentation.
Contrary to other artists boycotting the use of precious materials, Robert Smit's Sketches of Gold use gold as a support to his pictorial language. The development of the expressive function of colour, the rhythm of graphic forms, and the gestural aesthetic emanating from these pieces position him among the pioneers of avant-garde jewellery.

Robert Smit: Nabij Kerkbuurt, Marken, 2008. Gold, silver, paint, Epson ultra chrome K3 ink    >> More about this artwork    ON SALE    and the author   

Moreover, The theme of abstraction-narrative has always interested Spanish artist Ramon Puig Cuyàs. As a grown-up child who wanted to become a scientist, the artist insinuates and provokes a certain reverberation with physical reality by trying to create suggestive metaphors. When speaking of his three-dimensional paintings, Ramon explains that he intends to make what is invisible and real what is virtual... Although maintaining the body as a reference, it blurs the limits of its performance framework, to face the challenge of adapting the symbolic and spiritual values that have characterised it, since its origins to a society based more on the scientific knowledge than on the myth.

In the case of this Genesis series, born from a conversation with Manfred Bischoff during his visit to Escola Massana, the inspiration doesn't seem to derive from external sources, but rather from Manfred's interior. He describes it as akin to a magmatic explosion, a creation process by Ramon Puig Cuyàs that resembles a spiritual journey. 

Ramon Puig Cuyàs: Brooch 1648, 2016. From series: Genesis. Oxidised nickel silver, enamel on steel, obsidian and reconstructed red coral   >> More about this artwork    ON SALE    and the author   

The notion of representing abstract ideas rather than recognisable depictions becomes paradoxical when Tore Svensson weaves new narratives based on iconic symbols from art history.
In Cover's exhibition, Tore Svensson appropriates recognisable forms from other artists and creates a new reality based on the one conceived by Malevich.
With the brooch Cross (Malevitch), he extracts the symbol of the Russian Suprematist painter from his canvas to relocate it on the body.

Tore Svensson: Cross (Malevitch), 2019. Veneer, paint, silver
   >> More about this artwork    ON SALE    and the author   

First trained as a Gold and Silversmith, Detlef Thomas then pursued studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich under the guidance of Professor Hermann Jünger. What a coincidence. Self-defining as a jeweller, as it's what he does best, the artist often crosses the invisible boundaries of jewellery, creating ambiguous works that navigate between sculpture and painting.
The solo exhibition Exzentrik I at Villa Bengel recently showcased a retrospective of his works from 1980 to 2023. A significant collection of enamelled works was presented for the first time. The artist has developed his own approach to the traditional and ancestral enamel technique, using it as a simple material to compose elements that widen his entire artistic device.

Detlef Thomas: Untitled, 2013. Silver, enamel
  >> More about this artwork    ON SALE    and the author   

Let's introduce Beppe Kessler Wir War NL brooch to conclude our selection. Known for creating jewellery and paintings that belong together, Beppe borrows themes emerging from the invisible. Deeply influenced by painting, her pieces evolve into tangible volumes. The artist employs humble materials as a lexicon and creates her own vocabulary by transforming them. Covered with acrylic, scratched, re-sculpted, polished, and shaped like a magnifying glass, Beppe translates her feelings and thoughts about life, offering a new interpretation that gives her works and their components a certain magical eternity. 

Beppe Kessler: Wir War NL, 2018. Alpaca, aluminium, acrylic, wood, embroidered balsa wood, textile, graphite   >> More about this artwork    ON SALE    and the author   

   >> Discover other Abstract brooches at Klimt02   


About the author

Cécile Maes graduated from ENSA Limoges in design, specialising in Contemporary Jewellery. Her interest in jewellery grows from the human relationships games it involves. Social object, jewellery creates narratives and becomes a sign. Investigating classical typologies, her work is a re-interpretation where historical references and everyday exploration connect ideas to speak about jewellery, the reasons why we wear it and the meanings we give to it.

Instagram: cilce_maes