Monday, April 16, 2012


Artic Ice Necklace
Opened to the public over seven decades ago, the Netherlands’ Kroller-Muller Museum is the world’s second largest museum housing paintings from Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.  The Netherlands is also home to Ted Noten.

Conceptualizing abstract, complicated social issues into a piece of jewelry is something I consider quite daunting.

For a contemporary jewelry artist, however, taking complex subject matters and interpreting them into wildly imaginative commentary through jewelry ain’t no thang!

That is why I am always game to view online galleries of contemporary jewelry artists.    There are no limits or boundaries to expression; artists routinely push their creativity that always brings forth something strange, provocative and whimsical in the end.

The 2012 winner of the National Week for the Arts’ Artist of the Year, Noten embarked on a career in jewelry design twenty-eight years ago when he attended the Netherlands’ Academy for Applied Arts as well as Gerrit Rietveld Academie.  Having worked as a bricklayer and psychiatric nurse, the 55-year-old found a comfortable fit in the creation of avant-garde jewelry pieces.

Working with everything from acrylic to 18-karat gold plating Noten explores female archetypes, coffee drinking, world travel and the contents of Donna Corleone’s purse with satirical overtones.  He brings his work to life using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) which allows him to create multiple pieces of a single design.

Lady K Bag with Gold-Plated Gun and Bullet
His ceramic and china Messin’ Around with Willy objects, for instance, take phallic symbols to a whole other level!  They are anatomically correct male members in all their glory with tiny figurines emerging from or sunbathing on . . . er . . . it.  It is an unabashed, uninhibited representation and it is this kind of gusto, fearlessness and humor that I really appreciate about contemporary jewelry artists.

“Things come up in my mind due to visual input—due to mostly daily meetings with people.  They are the things that come up when I have had too much booze or not enough.  I visualize in my head so I hardly have to make drawings. 

Then I start researching to see if something like this has been done. I try to be original but it is very challenging because so much has been done already,” he explains.  “I collect materials I will use and then intuition takes over.  My hands, the tools, the machines bring their input and my mind stops for a while until I am finished creating.”

Like other contemporary jewelry artists, Noten brings a strong, memorable voice to this niche.  His clear acrylic handbags that hold objects like ice picks, cocaine, diamonds and guns inside are just so wild.

Sterling Silver Design Icon Rings
You are met with these powerful visuals and strong symbolism but not exactly sure how to surmise it all; nevertheless you are completely fascinated by it.

 Some of his pieces possess an odd, off-putting beauty, such as a dead mouse encased in clear acrylic wearing a pearl necklace; but ultimately they are characteristic of Noten who believes “jewelry should be famously curious.”
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