Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Sterling Collection; Designer Henning Koppel Led the Way in Radical Silverwork after the Second World War. Now a Major Retrospective of His Work Is on in London. Corinne Julius Reports HOMES & PROPERTY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Sterling Collection; Designer Henning Koppel Led the Way in Radical Silverwork after the Second World War. Now a Major Retrospective of His Work Is on in London. Corinne Julius Reports HOMES & PROPERTY

Article excerpt

SILVER is generally seen as a rather conventional material, to be fashioned into nice, traditional pieces.

But an exhibition by the grandfather of contemporary Scandinavian silver, Henning Koppel (1918-1981), proves that radical designs have been around for nearly 60 years. Koppel's sensuous, seductive silver is dramatically modern and avidly collected.

The exhibition is being held next week in St James's, at The Silver Fund, a dealer specialising in work from the great European silver workshop Georg Jensen, for which Koppel worked. It is the first major retrospective of his work in years and, unusually, a number of the designer's pieces, including cutlery, candelabras, coffee sets and pitchers, as well as some of his glass and ceramicware, will be on sale.

Surprisingly, Koppel never made the work he designed, leaving that to the silversmiths of the Georg Jensen smithy in Copenhagen.

Koppel only once used a planishing (silversmith's) hammer, and that was to smash a piece of his work: an abstract serving dish nicknamed The Female Corpse in a Bathtub, which he destroyed because he believed silversmiths had not translated his idea accurately.

Henning Koppel trained as an artist and sculptor, but was forced to consider new directions when he fled from Denmark to Sweden to escape Nazi persecution in October 1943. At first he bartered drawings for food, but, in 1945 was taken on by a gallery to design pewter jewellery. There he met Anders Host-Pedersen, the director of Georg Jensen, who on Koppel's return to Denmark after the war, invited him to design for the company.

It was not an immediate success.

Koppel tried to express in silver a sculptor's vision of form and movement, but the smithies found his radical designs both unmakeable and unspeakable.

The vessels he wanted were a seeming paradox, both flowing and tight.

To help communicate his ideas, he drew his designs or created them in plaster.

The first of Koppel's groundbreaking pieces, produced in 1946, was a twisted candelabra that looked like a tangle of driftwood. …

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