Born 1936 in Mansfield, Ohio, and a resident of New York since 1960, American Thomas Gentille is a leading studio jewelry artist not just in the United States but in the world as a whole. To mark his 80th birthday in 2016, Die Neue Sammlung
decided to invite the co-founder of studio jewelry in America to stage the first comprehensive exhibition on his oeuvre. On display are 180 items of jewelry, drawings and a film conceived and realized by the artist about the two most important cities in his life, namely New York and Munich.
He favors innovative plastics, solid aluminum and a wide variety of woods, not to mention papier-mâché, sawdust, silk threads, old glass spheres hand blown in Bohemia and air over gold, silver and precious stones. Gentille is one of the first American studio jewelry artists to employ such non-precious materials so consistently and he did so from 1960 onwards, calling into question the value of precious metals in how jewelry is designed and estimated. He only uses high-quality gold for the rear of the brooch. For Thomas Gentille the emphasis is always irrevocably on the piece itself, its artistic statement and its quality. Every item is a one-off, be it a brooch, necklace or bracelet, and a masterpiece of craftsmanship, unique in its affiliation with sculpture and architecture. For this reason, Gentille refuses to date his works, as this might make his older items possibly appear more valuable than younger ones.
His works with an eggshell overlay are famous. Using this mysterious method and even without employing the old Asian lacquer technique he produces a krakelée surface on his works. Gentille explains that it takes years of experimentation and practice with the technique until you finally grasp the 'soul of the material'.
The exhibition is being produced in close collaboration with Gentille himself and is located on the second floor of the Rotunda in Pinakothek der Moderne.
Pieces by Thomas Gentille can be found, among others, in New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, in Melbournes National Gallery of Victoria, in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and in Die Neue Sammlung in Munich.