Museum im Prediger, Schwäbisch Gmünd

23 October 2022 – 10 April 2023

(Catalogue in German and English, Euros 39, editor Max Tillmann

ISBN 978-3936988-39-0)

The exhibition celebrates the centenary of the Research Institute for Precious Metals & Metal Chemistry (Forschungsinstitut Edelmetalle & Metallchemie) (FEM) in Schwäbische Gmünd in 1922 and its successful collaboration with the city’s kunstgewerbermuseum (now the Prediger Museum), founded in 1876 to collect models for the city’s thriving goldsmiths’ trade, and the regional gewerbeschule or trade school, specialising in precious metals, in 1860.

Over 80 works of art are displayed in different contexts. There are masterpieces from the Prediger’s own permanent and long-term loan collection (including the 6ft high Immaculate Conception by Franz Anton Lang (Augsburg, 1755) from the Holy Cross Minster) as well as productions by Gmund craftsmen. Thematic displays follow, with juxtapositions illustrating forms, techniques, decoration, and finishes, discussed in aesthetic and technical contexts. Effects of colour, light and shade are all explored. The work of FEM in developing electrolysis, surface finishes, and silver overlay is considered alongside examples by Elkington and Christofle.

In addition to the cerebral aspects of the exhibition there are some remarkable objects to be admired for their own sake: a virtuoso sculptural centrepiece, Triton with a Sea Nymph, c1890, by Gmund-born Wilhelm Widemann; the Tetzel family sturzbecher, c1610 by Hans Pezolt; an enchanting tulpenpokal, 1673 by Sigmund Bierfreund; and an art nouveau Murano glass vase overlaid with galvanized silver poppies and leaves. A contemporary installation by Rolf Poellet, evoking the refractive qualities of silver, is the final setting for works by Claudia Weiser, Heinz Mack, Adolf Luther and a remarkable double-spout water jar by South Korean Dong-hyun Kim.

James Lomax