Norwegian Sigurd Bronger makes jewelry from eggs, balloons and gold, and sells them to collectors all over the world. Become familiar with the Norwegian engineering artisan.
For more than 40 years Sigurd Bronger’s passion for craftsmanship and endless curiosity has driven him to seek new forms of expression on the borderline between jewelry, art, design and engineering. Sigurd’s highly conceptual work defies definition and has always baffled his fellow Norwegians. It has more in common with contemporary art than decorative jewelry and goldsmith art. Though clearly an artisan, Sigurd himself prefers the title of “engineering artist”.
For many years he was an outsider in contemporary jewelry art, but now he enjoys increasing attention – nationally and internationally, not least due the book ‘Laboratorium Mechanum’ pulished by Arnoldsche in Germany.
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Bronger studied gold and silversmith in the Netherlands and was inspired by the work of Modrian and Stijl. The art collection of Stedlijk Museum (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Amsterdam was an important inspiration for his art education. Galerie Ra in Amsterdam opened his eyes to what contemporary jewelry art could be.
As a gold and silversmith maker, Sigurd did not like that his craft was about making commercially mass-produced jewelry.
Over the last 35 years, Sigurd Bronger has used things like eggs, balloons, sponges, pieces of soap and glass lenses as materials for making jewelry. His works are often ingenious, technical constructions that remind us less of conventional jewelry and more of instruments for scientific or medical research. He thinks of them as condition-measuring devices, communicative devices and wearable devices. Examples in the latter category are devices for carrying a goose egg, a drain pit, gall stones, a magnifying glass, and a transistor tube.
“There is a big world of people gathering jewelry out there”, says Bronger. A married couple in Switzerland has a collection of 4,000 rings from ancient times to the present day. One of the rings is made by Sigurd Bronger. In 18 carat gold, with a smiley balloon as an ornament.
After four years and seven attempts, Ra accepted his work, and was his exclusive gallery from 1983-2020. This gallery relationship has been vital for his artistic career. Later, started a collaboration with Neue Sammlung (Design Museum) in Munich where they will show his work next year.
“My jewellery is not meant to be decoration”, explained Bronger to Norwegiancrafts.no. “This decorative stuff many people equate with jewelry causes me to sometimes say I hate jewelry.’
“He is unsurpassed, a jewelry engineer. He invents things, makes jewelry you can ponder about and have fun with”, says Professor Jorunn Veiteberg at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design at the Bergen University.
His artistic breakthrough is partly due to the Crafts in Dialogue exhibition at Stockholm’s National Museum in 2005, and his lecture at the Neue Sammlung, Munich in 2009 was his international breakthrough. In Norway, it was his retrospective exhibition (Balloon Voyage) at Lillehammer Art Museum in 2011.
He explains that the jewelry concept allows his works to fall into a category that creates certain expectations, and when they break with these expectations, the off-the-wall ideas become even stranger, even more absurd.
One example is the brooch featuring his mother’s gallstones on display at the Stockholm National Museum; another is his Cuckoo Clock with an egg, a commission for the Norwegian Government Representational Buildings in Oslo.
Sigurd Bronger loves to provoke. “Maybe it has more to do with surprise; that the works become difficult to relate to, difficult to understand, because they don’t fit in, because they don’t ‘follow the rule book’, he says.
The Norwegian Engineering Artisan, written by Tor Kjolberg