The Wearable Art of Karl Fritsch

            “Yes of course the ring wants to be beautiful. The technique also wants to be beautiful, and most often it’s the idea that wants to be the most beautiful. But sometimes a piece likes nothing better than to sit in the mud and not give a damn about how it looks. If it is exactly what it wants to be in a given moment, it is precise, perfect, and the most beautiful.”[1] Abandoning the hackneyed jewelry making methods he had learned while studying at Goldsmiths’ college in Pforzheim, Germany, artist Karl Fritsch melded traditional jewelry forms with contemporary art, creating pieces that discarded beauty as the ideal and embraced an unexpected, rugged aesthetic. Fritsch’s pieces are unpolished, often gnarled and inlaid with roughly cut stones and niello, a technique whose image harkens to medieval jewelry but whose contemporary designs evoke a witty and fashionable charm. Fritsch often reinvents existing jewelry, oxidizing the metal into a glinting, craggy texture and replacing the original stones with his own vibrant selections.

Ring: silver, iron, diamond, rubies, garnet.

Ring: silver, iron, diamond, rubies, garnet.

 The pieces themselves are eclectic and rowdy characters, some being dubbed “brilliants” whereas others are “fuckwits.”[2] Fritch describes the quirks of his rings, stating that “one moment, a ring wants to look a certain way, and the next, it wants to look like something quite different. Sometimes it even freaks out, is unruly, out of control. Sometimes a ring plays a joke on me, or it sits at the table like a good child, doing nothing. Then it’s about quickly soldering, casting, filing, setting stones. The ring can’t wait; it is impatient and wants to hurry.”

Our collection of Karl Fritsch jewelry was recently featured in a post by ALIVE Magazine, which can be found here.

Ring 2411, 2002: Oxidized sivler, rubies, and diamond.

Ring 2411, 2002: Oxidized sivler, rubies, and diamond.

[1] Fritsch, Karl and Becky Bliss, eds. Karl Fritsch: Ninkern. Hanau: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau, 2012.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.