Doug Bucci is an artist and educator in the field of jewelry and metalsmithing. He designs original jewelry pieces using CAD and cutting-edge production processes, such as rapid prototyping, and has worked as a CAD/CAM/RP consultant and designer for several national companies since 1995. He teaches at The Tyler School of Art at Temple University and the University of the Arts, both in Philadelphia. His work has appeared in many publications, including Metalsmith, American Craft and the 500 Series from Lark Books. His jewelry is held in the Design Museum in Helsinki, Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus in Hanau, Germany and the Philadelphia Historical Society.
Schmuck 2010, held in Munich from March 3 –9, 2010, was the center of five fever-pitched days of jewelry and adornment. Over 30 exhibitions were presented citywide, representing a variety of countries, academic programs and individual studio jewelers.
From a pool of 600 applicants from 36 countries, Monica Gaspar (Spain) had the insurmountable task of selecting 60 jewelers from 28 countries for Schmuck 2010. The exhibition opened on the first day as part of the Internationalen Handwerksmesse München, the Messe München International (Munich International Trade Fairs) on the former site of Munich’s airport. As I understand it, historically, few Americans have been curated into the exhibition and I was honored to be selected.
Friday March 5, 2010
I arrived in town on Friday March 5. The installation of the show was amazing: a massive glass and aluminum temporary structure that gave each piece the lighting and attention that the work deserved. The gallery was laid out in a manner that moved the spectators around a large oval track, with cases lining every inch of the walls. When I arrived the exhibition held about a dozen attendees making their way around the displays, purchasing catalogs and snapping photographs. This is where I met the director of Schmuck, Eva Sarnowski, who graciously welcomed me to the exhibition and supplied me with all the necessary print materials for the next three days. It was a good decision to have attended the exhibition early, because the following day was the polar opposite, with massive crowds.
I spent time carefully inspecting the cases, seeking out the work of fellow-American makers while being introduced to the international jewelry in the exhibition. The United States was represented by Mielle Harvey, John Iversen, Seth Papac, Natalya Pinchuck, Sergey Jivetin and myself. Another important American connection was Cranbrook’s Iris Ichenberg, who represented the Netherlands.
Schmuck was held at the Trade Fair, which also featured an enormous amount of manufactured and handmade goods. ‘Handwerk & Design,' housed in one hall, showed an amazing assortment of craft, design and fine arts. Also in conjunction with Schmuck were five special exhibitions: Exempla 2010, Keramik (Ceramic), Talente 2010, Meister der Moderne 2010 and Frame, also held at the Trades Fair.
Exempla was dedicated to the theme of ‘ceramic shapes the earth,' to show how widespread the use of this material is in our daily lives. Works ranged from studio ceramics to architectural master works and active studios were put on display. It was as if I was looking at a diorama of the contemporary ceramist’s studio. Talente 2010 was a showcase and competition for newcomers (under-30) representing the next generation of makers. Among the bright young upstarts was Adam Grinovich (US/Sweden). In a departure from his earlier computer-aided design (CAD)/additive manufactured (AM) work, Grinovich has submerged himself into the currents of contemporary European jewelry. His current pieces combine the structure found in his early work with postindustrial materials. Frame was a grouping of three galleries presenting alongside the Schmuck 2010 exhibition. The international galleries consisted of Galerie Marzee (Netherlands), Galerie Platina (Sweden) and Galerie Ra (Netherlands). Gallery Ra featured the work of Melanie Bilenker (US). Meister der Moderne 2010, the ‘Masters of Modern Times,' presented the best works of internationally renowned contemporary artisans in glass, ceramic, wood, metal, textile and jewelry.
Included in Meister der Moderne 2010 was the work of the late Aud Charlotte Ho Sook Sinding (Sweden). The whimsical animal-head brooches had a visual weight that communicated a series of visually heavy pieces. However, examination of the work (which I was later able to do at the studio/gallery of Mia Maljojoki) revealed how lightweight and wearable the objects were, as they were made from vinyl. I would describe the series as vinyl toy jewelry. (I in no way intend to diminish the work by describing it as toy-like, since I thoroughly enjoyed it.) I ran into Helen W English Drutt, Liesbeth den Besten and Leo Caballero at the studio of Maljojoki and we viewed many of the pieces together. Departing the studio, I sat down for a hurried dinner with jewelers Maljojoki (Germany) and Donna Verveka (US), before we made our way to Munich’s renowned Pinakothek der Moderne.
At the Pinakothek, several hundred people filled the first floor of the museum standing shoulder to shoulder. Despite the crowd, you could not help but notice the students of the Jewelry and Product Design Department, Academy Fine Arts Maastricht (NL), presenting a wonderfully orchestrated display of their work in LED-lit, clear vinyl handbags, titled BAGEXPO (the students carried their work venue to venue throughout the city). The work had a casual appearance, although it had a very formal jewelry structure of connections, findings and finish. While at the Pinakothek I had the pleasure of seeing Giampaolo Babetto’s L'Italianita dei Gioielli, a fabulous installation of endless vitrines of gold jewelry, with the reds and blues of the enameling techniques lining the massive rotunda’s third-floor balcony. The volume of jewelry seemed to self-illuminate among the crowds of viewers.
Departing the museum, a crowd hurried across the street to see Cranbrook Academy artist in residence Iris Eichenberg’s Birds and Flowers of Michigan at Galerie Spektrum. Petals of nylon-folded pieces are contrasted with cocoon-like mummified birds. The work was displayed without the traditional cases, which allowed the viewer to get up close and thoroughly inspect it.
Upon our departure, we couldn’t imagine looking at another piece of jewelry – but there it was, another gallery of fabulous pieces and another group of Schmuck-goers, who joined our ever-growing ‘Schmuck Posse.' With the idea of winding down the evening we made our way to a drinking engagement. The evening (or should I say, the morning) came to a close at the ‘Sick of Schmuck’ party (aka Schluck 6!) for an evening of drinks, music and dancing. It was good to reconnect with people like Susan Cohn (Australia) and I was amazed by the distances people traveled to be at Schmuck.
Saturday March 6, 2010
On my second day in Munich I was greeted by several inches of freshly fallen snow. I made my way to meet friends and tackle the exhibitions as they opened in the city’s posh Schwabing neighborhood. Moving from show to show, we were able to take in some impressive work ranging from mid-career exhibitions like AAVISTU, nestled in an all white (floor to ceiling) basement of a design firm, to the recent graduate work of Eternal Shine - It´s Not a Pony, at the Projektraum J Baumeister and finally to the work in the exhibition Dialogue 8.
We were directed to an old foundry in the heart of city, a welcome destination and escape from the snow. The old foundry was gritty and seemed to be slightly ‘cleaned up’ to accommodate the Dialogue 8 exhibition. The work was casually laid out on strips of brown paper on top of worktables. Each artist was identified by brightly colored paper signs bearing their names. The exhibition was a response to a project that was seeded by Helen Carnac (Britain) three months before the opening. Carnac provided the participants with a series of gifts and asked them to create work inspired by the gifts.
Back at the Schmuck 2010 exhibition, the Herbert Hofmann Prize was awarded at the Trade Fair Hall. Since 1973, the award has been presented to up to three distinguished participants per year, commemorating the show's founder Dr Herbert Hofmann. Prize recipients include John Iversen (US), Mia Maljojoki (DL) and David Bielander (DL). This event was one of the culminating events of the Schmuck week and highly attended.
Before leaving the Trade Fair for the last time I visited a couple special projects, including Liesbeth den Besten’s ThinkTank: A European Initiative for the Applied Arts. ThinkTank was presenting their current publication and accompanying exhibition Speed, featuring a selection of sixteen designers (including Ted Noten and Marcel Wanders). That evening the attendees made their way to the goldsmiths’s beer hall get-together at the famous Marinaplatz. The event was so large that it was held in three banquet rooms.
Sunday March 7, 2010
On the final day of programming, I decided to spend much of the day exploring. I went to the Pinakothek der Moderne and focused on the Danner-Rotunde, an outstanding collection of contemporary studio jewelry curated by Karl Fritsch. It is probably one of the most outstanding permanent collections of international work that I have ever witnessed. The jewelry was displayed in a large, arching subterranean gallery and in peculiar clusters, as if to create a forced association between each piece of jewelry.
The annual Schmuck exhibition and all the parallel exhibitions are a worthwhile pilgrimage. Throughout my trip I kept thinking how I had traveled 4000 miles to really appreciate what we have stateside, but I questioned most the disconnect between the US and European Union (EU) when it comes to jewelry. In the age of digital technologies the dialogue should be further connected. Where is the disconnect and why? In the US we are excited about – and even long for – the jewelry being made in the EU. Do they feel the same way?
Schmuck is a much different event than what is experienced stateside at the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) annual conference. Unlike SNAG, the majority of programming that surrounds Schmuck are independent events in response to the exhibition at the Trades Fair. In addition, Schmuck does not present any formal lectures, outside of the Herbert Hofmann Award presentations. Both events are a mechanism to generate discourse.
We must continue to share the works and the makers on a global level. In the age we live in, it is nearly impossible to not see work that is happening around the world.