Dear José Manuel — you had a question!

It’s taken me awhile to get back to you with a response regarding your wondering what the crossings (or connections) are between crafts, art, and design that make jewelry more far-sighted than visual arts and also so detached from design in the traditional sense of the word. I’m going to partly cite you and also supplement it according to how I understood what you meant to convey, as well as adding my thoughts to it.

As you said, once Art with a capital ‘A’ came onto the scene those making it – the artists – were driven into (training) institutions to learn what was considered as art and what the ‘proper’ way of creating it was. This in contrast to the first hand-made objects that mainly ‘celebrated’ nature (an inexhaustible laboratory of inspiration) or their religious-mythological beliefs.

Design in products that were meant for consumption followed later, pretty much free of conceptual or religious aspects and geared more to the aesthetic. Even later, when the Bauhaus in Germany and De Style in the Netherlands for example set down very clear new parameters regarding design that created a totally new aesthetic and idea about the look of consumption objects. Thus was born ‘Design’ based on clear visual aspects relating to function and functionality.  Art which later became more and more conceptual and worked with meaning stood across from it. And on the side stood the crafts which created functional things through more time-consuming hand labor but mostly without the strictness of the clear visual aspects of ‘Design’ (assembly/factory work).  Jewelry as embellishment of the body, for a long time meandered along the different styles of the times but not really adhering to any of them properly.

I’m not an historian, so what I am saying is without claim to being the truth, on the contrary it’s only a reflection of what I observe and feel. As I see it, things started becoming fascinating once the aspects of design, crafts, and art started intermingling and boundaries blurring. Of course that opened some new cans of worms and the discussions are ongoing still. Such as Art not viewing ‘decorative’ applied arts as equals, or design not searching for association with crafts and so forth. I don’t want to go into that – it’s an endless loop.

Personally, I often find wonderful surprises in design or conceptual crafts. Quite often I experience the thinking behind design/conceptual crafts extremely witty, or with interesting references to the traditional in a very contemporary manner, or being critically reactive to society/life, and this often exceeding what I notice in Art. Again, this is just my personal opinion and taste!

Students of crafts departments at good art schools are conveyed the necessity of having a good basic knowledge of art history and contemporary art besides being proficient in their own area of expertise. Of how many painting, sculpture, or new media students/artists can the same be said regarding a knowledge of any field of crafts? It is said that knowledge is power, so maybe that helps empower the creative process leading to some very outstanding strong work in the field of crafts. Also, especially jewelry has emancipated itself out of the ‘metals’ corner after contemporary makers do not slavishly adhere to solely using precious materials. Everything is allowed since all the different materials speak their own language and transmit their own visual message. What is being used in Art is today nothing new in Jewelry. And while jewelers use all these different materials they often don’t just  use them as such,  but research their characteristics, push their boundaries in exceptional ways, and apply them in the knowledge of using that material’s subtle inferred expression or the more expressive outspoken.

And on top of that jewelers are kept on their toes by having to additionally incorporate the aspect of function  –  wearability.

To pick up your question again: what makes jewelry look so far ahead of visual arts? I don’t know, maybe jewelers have to try harder, thus ending up by pushing things more, experimenting more with many intriguing results?

I hope that somehow answers you!

Best,  Andrea

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>