PROF. DR. FLORIAN HUFNAGL, Executive Director of Collections, DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG – THE INTERNATIONAL DESIGN MUSEUM MUNICH
Speech at the opening of GERD ROTHMANN’s Retrospective Exhibition in the DEUTSCHES GOLDSCHMIEDEHAUS (the House of German Goldsmiths) HANAU, Sunday, 18th September .2011, 11.30
Ladies and Gentlemen
It’s not easy to speak about Gerd Rothmann. Not because there isn’t a great deal to say about him – on the contrary. But so much has already been said and written about him, much of it excellent, as I was able to confirm as I went through the two publications about him in preparation for this exhibition.
That much has been said about Gerd Rothmann is not surprising. For Gerd is, and had been for some considerable time, at the zenith of hiscreative powers. And here is the really astonishing thing; the themes he deals with, as an artist working in jewellery, have been the same for a long time. His artistic approach is very simple and at the same time touched with genius. His contribution has been no more or less than to introduce the body print into the art of jewellery, as Dorothea Baumer established so clearly in her preface to the monograph about Gerd Rothmann.
The fascinating thing is how many different variations he manages to wrest from this simple approach. Because he’s not primarily concerned with technique or skill, his work has (as always when dealing with true art) far more to do with a second or a third level, in short the numinous, the spiritual. Kandinsky showed this a century ago, just before he went on to paint the first abstract picture. But Gerd Rothmann turns things on their head. It’s not abstraction which is the subject of his work -‐ but its exact opposite, the concrete, the precise, the specific, the individual.
Historically jewellery, even if its only purpose was to decorate, was always something abstract, something added to its wearer, which had little to do with him or her as an individual. Even if the jewellery was making a statement, as an indicator of value or power, those symbols could be transferred arbitrarily to the wearer. Indeed they could often only be used in that way because symbolically they stood for something beyond the individual. Even if a piece of jewellery was clearly made for one particular person, even represented that person in some way, (like for example a signet ring), this sign (because it was always chosen by them) was a mental and not a physical representation...
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