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Czech Jewelry - 3.part

Blog post
Published: 03.03.2009

Czech jewelry does not present a unified picture in the 1990s and it is very difficult to define it briefly, to name it or set its characteristics. The work of preceding generations had more unifying then dividing features; the trend of the last two decades is quite opposite. It does not bear any traces of any particular Czech specify; the materials, initial ideas and eventual shape
are different. It is original, international and difficult to identify when placed alongside its foreign counterparts. It possesses an inexhaustible number of shapes. It does not avoid precious metals and stones but these are not the aim, simply the means. Gold and silver are put on the same qualitative level as common metals, wood, leather, plastic, paper, enamel, glass, stone and other natural substances. New aesthetic values come into existence through their mutual combination. At the beginning of the 1960s, the actual material ceased to be essential. However, the way in which it is used with regards to visual art, combined with the ability of the artist to capture it properties and suitability for the message of the jewelry, has steadily taken on far greater degrees of importance. Artists have been dealing with the relationship between jewelry and the human body ever since jewelry ceased to be a conventional decoration with a passive role. In the new approach, jewelry should not be a neutral pendant on a chain or a string of universal dimension, but an original work of art that influences its owner in a certain way. By being made “to measure” as it were, it is respects the body specifics of the one who is wearing it, but at the same time it forces her or him, in some cases, to submit to a certain discomfort arising from the unusual size of the piece or close bonding with the body.

Two tendencies can be observed in contemporary Czech jewelry. One identifies with the traditional conception of jewelry, as treasuries of precious materials with the prime function of decoration in the best sense of the word. The second tendency is connected with the approximation of jewelry to a free art or small sculpture, without denying it its capacity to be worn. Only limited space forces the artist into a concise and economical expression of the idea conveying the artistęs world view, his or her feelings, moods and longings. This approach imposes greater demands on the user of a work of art that is not an indiferent accessory and is not confined to private use but it is to be exhibited to the public, thus becoming subject to confrontation with general, often still conservative, opinion. Those wearing the jewelry are representatives of the artist‘s philosophical attitude towards the world, and they must often adapt by their clothing and the mode of its presentation.

In the second half of 20th century, jewelry has come a long way, from a traditional handicraft product to an individual piece of art. In these few decades it has gone through a transformation that eludes comparison with any other historical period. Integral to this were not only changes of style in external shapes, but the radical transformation of decorative accessory into a real of art. Although Czech artists had to wrestle with many specific problems that artists abroad were spared, they had to find a solution to general human and private questions and, above all, a solution to the relationship between inner and outer space.
The jewelry of the end of the millennium is a complex and multilayered phenomenon. No art-historical or iconographical interpretation can adequately interpret it; one must approach it in a far wider philosophical, sociological, psychological and cultural-historical context.


Abridged text by Alena Krizova, from the book Metarphoses of Czech Jewelry at the End of the 20th Century. Academia, Prague, 2002.
Translation: Jana Fortova



Alena Novakova *1929 - †1997,
Brooch 1986, silver, paper, ink
Collection of the Museum of Bohemian paradise, Turnov

1951-1992 lecturer on Academy of Applied Arts in Prague



Jaroslav Kodejs *1938,
brooch 2001, mold-melted glass, gold, kanthal


1967-1983 Gold, Silver and Bronze medals on International Jewelry Exhibition, Jablonec nad Nisou



Jiri Drlik *1938

ring 1979, gold, crystal

Collection of the Moravian Gallery, Brno


1961-1965 High School of Applied Arts, Brno


1971 Silver medal on International Jewelry Exhibition, Jablonec nad Nisou



Prof. Vratislav Karel Novak *1942

Glass Chips 1983, face jewel, glass, rubber, stainless steel

1961-1967 study on Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, doc. Jan Nusl

1957–1961 High School of Costume Jewelry making


2001 1. prize of Theodore M. Berry International Frienship Park, Cincinnati, OH, USA
1996 Internationale Handwerksmesse, Munich, Goldmedaile , Preis der Bayerischen Staatsregierung
1980 Silver medal on International Jewelry Exhibition, Jablonec nad Nisou

1990-1992 doc.
1993-2007 professor – headed sculpture studio specialising in metalwork and jewelry Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, Prague



Svatopluk Kasaly *1944

necklace 2000, cut glass, gilded brass


1961-1965 High School of Glassmaking, Zelezny Brod, Czechoslovakia
prof. Libensky and prof. Novotny

1984 Ornament Award, Los Angeles, CA, USA
International Jewelry Exhibition, Jablonec nad Nisou:
- 1983 Prize of Jury
- 1974 Gold medal
- 1971 Gold medal


Eva Eisler *1952

Mobius series, 2002, bracelet, stainless steel

2007- till now Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, Prague, studio jewelry and metalwork

1983 Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, USA
1971-1973 High School of Graphic Design, Prague
1968-1971 School of Building Technology and Architecture, Prague


2003 Form 2003, 'mono cimetric', Bundesverband Kunsthanwerk, Germany
1993 Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts, NY, USA
1993 Residency at Rockefeller Study Center, Bellagio, Italy



 Pavel Opocensky *1954

Fragilitas Gradatim, brooch 2002, carved jade

1974 High School of Applied Arts for Jewelry Design and Precious Stones, Turnov
1972 High school of Applied Arts for Design of Costume Jewelry, Jablonec nad Nisou


2004 water stone object, 1. prize, realisation, Kurim
2003 34th German Award for Jewelry and Precious Stones, Idar-Oberstain, Germany
1993 Foundation of bros. Capeks, Prague
1990 Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, NY, USA
1990 Empire State Craft Alliance, New York, NY, USA
1986 New York Foundation of the Arts, New York, NY, USA
1985 Art Quest 85, University Art Museum, California, USA


About the author

Jirí Šibor, 1966 Brno, Czechoslovakia. Since 1990 exhibited abroad and home, occupy mind by theme "Cold Connected Constructions" in jewelry; occasionally graphic designer, sculptor, curator of exhibitions and correspondent.

About this blog

Czech Jewelry : past and present of innovative jewelry.