Georg Jensen's Take on Silver: Part One
Combining functionality and beauty was his philosophy, and he nailed it. Even today, almost 80 years after his death, his style continues to hold its own and be emulated by artists all over the world and his company continues to flourish.
Jensen took the whiplash lines of the Art Nouveau style (which you can read about in last week’s blog) and “injected them with a distinctive vigour.” It’s hard to describe his style because while it fits the description of art nouveau, his pieces were unique; his actual name became a descriptive word in the art world. People began referring to different pieces as being “Georg Jensen style.”
Jensen was a Danish silversmith born in Radvaad, Denmark in 1866 – the seventh of eight children. Growing up in such a large family, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd, but Jensen sure made a name for himself. Radvaad was a beautiful countryside just north of Copenhagen. Jensen’s life work reflected his childhood surroundings as his work was always themed in nature and reflecting natural forms.
His father was a knife grinder and his mother a housewife. Jensen worked with his father in the factory and was always making things. His family recognized his artistic talent and moved to Copenhagen when Jensen was 14 so he could be a goldsmith’s apprentice.
He worked long hours and attended a technical school, but in his spare time, he would work with modeling clay. Sculpting was his greatest passion. After some time, he became a sculpting student at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Although never incredibly successful as a sculptor, his training greatly influenced his work with silver.
In 1891, he got married and had two children. Professionally, Jensen was having a hard time because he wasn’t able to make a living doing what he was most passionate about – sculpting, so he went into the pottery business. Then, he went through a very dark period in his life. His wife died suddenly of kidney disease after only six years of marriage. Jensen was left with his two sons – Vidar and Jorgen, no money, no work, and another rejected sculpture.
Eventually, the darkness lifted. Jensen made some positive, professional relationships. He spent a few years touring France and Italy – studying different types of art – particularly, the art nouveau style which would become his trademark. This time of traveling and experiencing all different types of art caused Jensen to let go of his tunnel vision view of himself as a sculptor and open his mind to becoming more.
Check back for Saturday's blog to learn how Jenson’s business blossomed into what it is today and to learn more about his fascinating personal life. Don’t forget to browse our silver collection at Latique
The Georg Jensen salt cellars pictured above are from The McNally Company Antiques. Click here for more info