Marjan Unger 1946-2018

Published: 10.07.2018
Marjan Unger Marjan Unger
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Marjan passed away at home with Gerard around her after a gorgeous lobster dinner with champagne... she said more than once that she was happy with her life and what she did.
/ Beppe Kessler
Marjan Unger studied design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, History of Art at the University of Amsterdam, including architecture, modern art, fashion and textile design, industrial archeology and history of art of China and Japan and got her doctorate at the University of Leiden. As an art historian and design critic she has worked at the Hogeschool der Kunsten, the art academy of Rotterdam and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. From 1995 till 2006 Marjan was head of the post-graduate course in the Applied Arts at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, which is affiliated to the Gerrit Rietveld Academy.
She has coordinated and organised symposia, exhibitions and presentations of design, including jewellery , and participated in the board of advice for museums, ministries and foundations. She is the author of several books. In 2009 Marjan made the selection for Schmuck 2009 and in 2010 Marjan and Gerard Unger donated 500 pieces of Dutch jewellery from the 20th century to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The collection, which covers the period 1905-2008, with a focus on the years 1930-1970, served as reference material for her book. On November 15-17, 2017 a symposium entitled "Jewellery Matters" was held in honor of her collection at the Rijksmuseum. Suzanne van Leeuwen, Junior Curator of Jewellery at the Rijksmuseum, along with Marjan, coauthored the accompanying recent publication Jewellery Matters earlier this year.

For us at Klimt02 a nice way to thank her and show her kindness and honor her legacy is her answer to the question below:

What do you think is the most interesting thing that you helped to make happen?
In 1991 I organised an international symposium on Fashion and the Environment for the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. That was a very new way of looking at design, how environmental matters can influence the work you make. At the symposium, you had to be very alert, because so much information came together for the first time. And in fashion, in the end you have that nice explosion of energy and creativity that is called a fashion show.
Also, I am proud of my years at the Sandberg Institute. It was a completely new way of thinking in Dutch art education, developing a Master course for the applied arts or free design as it was called then. The first international bunch of students that came to Amsterdam took a risk with me, an art historian and not a maker as head of department. It was a big adventure with an open end and it demanded a lot of them. But now I can see my students of that time doing good work, teaching at all sorts of institutes themselves and going ahead in their professions, also in jewellery. From them, I can wear their work with deep satisfaction and when I go places, it is always good to see them again.
My point is, also in the research for my new book, that
jewellery is meant to be worn. The reasons why people make jewellery derive from the reasons why people want to wear jewellery

Excerpt of: About curating. Marjan Unger interviewed by klimt02