The Association for Goldsmiths’ Art (GfG) , based in Hanau, exists to promote jewelry and hollowware design by means of contests, exhibitions, publications, and awards. The GfG’s most important award previously was the “Goldener Ehrenring”/”Golden Ring of Honour”, which between 1933 and 2014 acknowledged the life’s work of internationally recognized jewelry and hollowware designers, who included Elisabeth Treskow (awarded 1938), Max Fröhlich (1965), Mario Pinton (1975), Yasuko Hiramatsu (1994), Peter Skubic (2005), Tone Vigeland (2008), Otto Künzli (2011) and Robert Smit (2014). In 2016, the Swiss Bernhard Schobinger sparked a conversation about the GfG’s history by refusing to accept the Ring of Honour on account of the political entanglements of the then “German Association for Goldsmiths’ Art” in the years 1933 through 1945.
In response, the GfG commissioned independent historians and NS researchers from the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte Frankfurt with the reappraisal of the GfG’s history and of its role in National Socialism and making this reappraisal accessible to the public. The results were published in Das Goldene Netzwerk by Michael Bermejo and Andrea H. Schneider-Braunberger (Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2019, in German and English). The close interweaving of leading representatives of the GfG, founded in 1932, and the National Socialist regime was worked out and documented in this book.
Over the decades post-1945, the GfG has actively developed a new, resolutely liberal and humanist profile by holding an array of international events and supporting avant-garde positions in jewelry and hollowware design, and hence–like many other artistic institutions burdened by a Nationalist Socialist past (such as the Academy of Fine Art Munich, the House of Art Munich, or the Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft Berlin, for instance)–found a way out of its encumbered past into an open present-day.
The GfG deeply regrets that this reappraisal came so late. There had been initial endeavors toward that end since the 1980, but these were not sustained by those responsible at the time. In order to build on merely publishing a study on the historical reappraisal and send an externally visible signal as well, the GfG will not be awarding the Golden Ring of Honour from now on. The Golden Ring of Honour is regarded in artistic gold- and silversmithing circles as one of the highest international distinctions.
The GfG is assuming responsibility as regards its own history and initiating, in the place of the “Golden Ring of Honour”, a new, contemporary award. This bears the name DER RING and will be handed out every three years in Hanau by the GfG. The artist is required to possess a comprehensive portfolio in artistic jewelry or hollowware. A sum of 3,000 EUR will be made available to the artist for the making of the new ring.
With the new award, the GfG marks its intention to honor the aim, formulated in the founding concept in 1932, of promoting extraordinary artistic achievements–an aspect to which the GfG feels duty-bound to this day. Simultaneously, in this way, the Association wishes to set an irreversible trend for a new beginning as well as unmistakably mark the commitment of the Association for Goldsmiths’ Art to an open, critical and tolerant society.