Fritz Falk 1938 - 2020

Article  /  Curating   Museum   Collecting   Obituary   FritzFalk   History
Published: 29.04.2020
Pforzheim Jewellery Museum
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
Fritz Falk, © SMP, Foto Petra Jaschke.
Fritz Falk, © SMP, Foto Petra Jaschke

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum is mourning the passing of its former Director Fritz Falk. The master goldsmith and holder of a PhD in art history significantly contributed to shaping the city’s cultural life for more than 35 years. With his acquisition policy, he laid the foundations for what meanwhile constitutes the impressively comprehensive collection of this renowned museum specialising in the art and history of jewellery-making, and established its international reputation.
Fritz Falk began his career as a research assistant at the Jewellery Museum in 1969, and became its Director in 1971. Since back then, he significantly expanded its collection, and developed it into a specialised museum that is unique worldwide, one whose exhibits are much sought after as exquisite loans for exhibitions all over the planet, whether in London or St. Petersburg, in Paris or in Tokyo. While the main focus of Fritz Falk’s activity was no doubt on collecting jewellery from classical antiquity, the Renaissance and the Art Nouveau period, he also felt particularly committed to highlighting modern, contemporary jewellery trends. These have been spotlighted in numerous special exhibitions at Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum since the 1970s, as well as at the pinnacle exhibition “Ornamenta I” in 1989, which provided a broad overview of what was happening back then on the international contemporary jewellery scene.
As regards the subject of historical jewellery, Fritz Falk curated important exhibitions of Art Nouveau or Renaissance creations, and presented shows featuring jewellery created by non-European cultures.
Thanks to the internationally esteemed expert’s excellent contacts to many of the world’s major museums, the Jewellery Museum was able to display exquisite pieces of their jewellery in Pforzheim, and to showcase parts of its own collection worldwide, for example in most European countries, in Australia, Japan and Russia.
Even if Fritz Falk’s era at the Jewellery Museum ended in 2004 after 35 years, he remained closely linked to it. In 2011, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the Reuchlinhaus, he curated the exhibition entitled “Serpentina – the Snake in Jewellery Around the World”, and then, in 2016, the “Heavenly Bodies – the Sun, Moon and Stars in Jewellery” show. An exhibition with the working title of “Everything that Flies” was planned for 2022. But even beyond projects like these, he stayed in close touch with the museum, and was repeatedly consulted on specific issues.
From 1997 until his retirement, he collaborated with Cornelie Holzach, who became his successor in 2005. “Fritz Falk strongly advocated my pursuing our common path when I became the museum’s Director,” she remembers. “I am deeply saddened by his passing. We had an amicable relationship, and also celebrated his 80th birthday together with the other colleagues.”
Fritz Falk was an honorary member of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London, and consultant to the Russian Museum of Ethnography in Saint Petersburg. He was a juror for numerous modern jewellery competitions in various European countries, in Japan and in Russia, as well as a member of the juries at art and antiques fairs in Amsterdam, Basel, Frankfurt, Hanover, Hamburg and Munich. He died in the early morning of 23 April after a short illness.