Modern Classicist at Schmuck 2024. Georg Dobler interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists   MunichJewelleryWeek2024
Published: 15.02.2024
Modern Classicist at Schmuck 2024. Georg Dobler interviewed by Klimt02.
Cécile Maes
Edited by:
Edited at:
Georg Dobler: Brooch 1992, unique, drawing, glass, aluminium. plate, silver wire frame, 7.5 x 6.5 x 1 cm.
. Pin jewellery 1986, unique, steel wire, black chrome 13 x 5.5 x 0.2 cm.
. Pin jewellery 1984, unique, paper mache, steel needle, acrylic varnish 14 x 9.5 x 2.5 cm..
Georg Dobler: Brooch 1992, unique, drawing, glass, aluminium. plate, silver wire frame, 7.5 x 6.5 x 1 cm.
Pin jewellery 1986, unique, steel wire, black chrome 13 x 5.5 x 0.2 cm.
Pin jewellery 1984, unique, paper mache, steel needle, acrylic varnish 14 x 9.5 x 2.5 cm.

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Each year, the special SCHMUCK exhibition honours a Modern Classicist with a retrospective. In 2024, the spotlight is on the German artist Georg Dobler. As a master goldsmith trained in Pforzheim and an internationally renowned jewellery artist, Prof. em. Georg Dobler has imparted his expertise to numerous students at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hildesheim.

Seizing this opportunity, Klimt02 interviewed the artist, delving into his illustrious career, artistic evolution, and the unique perspective he brings to his craft.
The Modern Classic exhibition highlights your artistic career this year at SCHMUCK 2024. Could you share with us how such an exhibition is prepared?
A look back… I’m reliving moments which seemed long forgotten. There are many pieces in my archives from the beginning of my work, and each piece has its own genesis. Everything suddenly becomes very present and works itself into my current dreams. Especially the stylistic change from geometrical to organic, which gallerists back then understood and had to present. The 'Meister' exhibition in Munich tries to showcase this leap in a relatable way. It pains me that there are so many things I'm not able to show due to limited space.

A consistent evolution becomes apparent when I explore your works over several decades. From the late 80s, the geometry of your structures incorporates organic elements, which, by the 90s, become central to your compositions, ultimately creating a genuine dialogue between the natural and artificial worlds up to your current pieces.
Your work demonstrates an expansion of possibilities and the construction of a collection infused with more apparent references. You're recognisable for this abrupt formal shift as if a perpetual commitment to new narratives in jewellery inhabits you. Is this the creative freedom?

Yes. The topic COSMIC ENERGY / ASSEMBLY OF ATOMS is a very early field of my object and jewellery making. I decided to reboot this theme because I saw a lot of untapped potential – it is the revisiting of an unfinished business.
The earliest pieces were made at the end of the 1980s; one is the Moon Brooch from 1988, an image of the moon laminated on paper mache. I used this technique to make a lot of large jewellery pieces to be worn on the human body, very big yet lightweight (the paper mache offered the possibility of making huge pieces of body jewellery wearable because the material is stable enough). Other pieces from that period were made of spring-hard steel wire because I wanted to construct them with very thin and strong materials. Thin black lines create constructive geometrical forms. They illustrate my idea of three-dimensional spaces, connected to my geometrical concepts.

Artistic freedom is not limited to classical jewellery materials – if the sources guide or narrate my story, then I choose them. Sometimes, the aesthetic value is important for me, sometimes the physical value, sometimes both. There are many tools to tell a story… even if it is a revisited one.
Georg Dobler. Brooch: Moon Brooch, 1988. Moon image on paper mache, steel wire frame

A retrospective is always a way to rediscover an artistic journey.
What do you want the audience to understand or see when overviewing your work?

With careful scrutiny, you will grasp the meaning of the pieces and their references to the history of art and design, the quotations they use, and the big field of culture and fashion in which they are embedded. I am influenced by it all and owe so much to it. I create my own story with all this knowledge and use these narrative bricks to construct my tale.

Has your perspective on your own evolution changed over time?
Not exactly. The development seems logical to me, and I would do it again. I understand the motives I had. Today, with the knowledge I have acquired, I look for more personal or abstract solutions. For instance on the theme of Assembly of Atoms from 1988, which I revived in COVID times and am working on again now.

Georg Dobler. Brooch: Assembly of Atoms, 1988. Silver.

Could you share a key moment in your journey that has been particularly significant?
Oh yes. By the end of the 1970s, I wanted to create something on my own, and not be employed and follow orders anymore. I wanted to tell my story, but first, I had to find out what I wanted to say. In 1982, during a chance visit to Amsterdam and the Stedelijk Museum, I was confronted with artworks by De Stijl and other Constructivist artists. I saw minimalistic things – almost nothing, but with a spirituality: nothing to see, but something to feel. The paintings touched me and could not tell why. I wish that I could make objects like this, with a “fourth” dimension. Today I can say that they are very rare.

In your opinion, where does the beauty lie in a piece of jewellery?
I’m not a philosopher! I just hate decoration without reason; I like beauty in an honest way. For example, my pieces with precious stones are very close to being kitsch. I play with “the trouble of beauty”, to quote the art writer Wendy Steiner, who wrote the book Venus in Exile. The pretty gems are stirring up my concept. The question is: Am I allowed to use beautiful gemstones in contemporary jewellery? Is it still avant-garde? I say yes; change the size, oversize, irritate the viewer's perception by changing the context. It’s an old Pop Art concept.

Does intellectualisation come into play in your creative process at a certain point?
I play with everything I know. Knowledge helps. Playing is hard work…

The illusion is the misperception to the extent that it does not correspond to reality considered objective. It can be normal or abnormal, natural or artificial.

In the text presenting your retrospective, Philipp Valenta relates your work to the various levels of the illusions of the world that you offer. What role does the concept of illusion take in your work?

It makes the results both real and unreal, it irritates. You have to find out how you want to see it.

Your work sometimes exudes a slight morbid sensation. Nature debris, combined with large stones and insects transformed into metal, has been collected and carefully kept to become elements of a construction shaping a world. Are you aware of this, and is it intentional?
Yes. It’s strange and a bit surreal.

What is your vision of the current world? Can we relate it to what we discover in your pieces?
My pieces are suggestions hidden in jewellery language. Discover what you want to see.

Do you consider yourself a modern classic in contemporary jewellery?
Yes, in the wide range and variety of jewellery.

As a former professor, could you share your perspective on current education in contemporary jewellery and what you think about the new emergence of the contemporary jewellery scene?
It is always important for me to know why I do that or what. What can jewellery do, what is its essence in relation to humans? After that, I ask myself how I can develop my own language for it.
The next step is to ask myself how I want to create the jewellery and with the help of what. These are questions about craft, techniques and materials.
Exercises in the development of forms, proportion, composition, and abstraction help, as do experiments and tests of materials.
Matter speaks a language. How can I learn it?
Learning about the history of art, design, jewellery, fashion, culture in general, helps with orientation and profiling.

I follow with great interest how the new generation communicates with « jewellery », how jewellery interacts in society, how it installs itself in the world. Jewellery is becoming more colourful. What effects do discussions about gender have? Which aspects of form and content do the young generation change?

And finally, many of your pieces have been acquired by cultural institutions. Could you share your perspective on the contemporary jewellery market? Is there one? Do new collectors acquire your works?
The market for art jewellery follows and increasingly resembles the Fine Art market. An active gallery scene is needed to display, present, mediate, and establish a broader base of modern art jewellery. More curated exhibitions lead to better transparency and acceptance among a young audience. In my case, I notice that older collectors give their collections to museums, while the middle generation is starting to increasingly look to jewellery alongside Fine Art for collecting if they find quality and poise in pieces.

A generational shift can also be seen in jewellery art galleries. I’m curious to see if it will succeed and a younger audience will continue to trust galleries or turn to establishing a profound online market.


About the Interviewee

Georg Dobler is a contemporary jeweler based in Berlin and Halle, Germany. Born in 1952 in Creussen, Germany, Dobler got his Master of goldsmith in 1980. Since 2002, Dobler has been a Professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hildesheim, Germany. He is winner of various prizes, including 1991 Herbert Hofmann-Preis, 2000 Herbert Hofmann-Preis. He has had his work displayed internationally in solo exhibitions in the Museum Huelsmann, the Schmuck Museum, Germany, and in galleries around the world, including Holland, America, England, Spain, Belgium, and Finland. His work can be found in major museum collections including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Museum of Arts and Design, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and many others.

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