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DMA Acquires Major Modern Jewelry Collection
by Jerome Weeks 1 May 2015

Diamonds are a museum’s best friend. Actually, the more than 700 pieces of the Rose-Asenbaum Collection are modern, so they’re often made of unconventional materials, like wood and felt. In any case, this makes the DMA’s shiny hoard one of the foremost jewelry collections in the world.

CTA TBD

anton wide

Anton Cepka, brooch, silver and plastic, 1976. Photo: courtesy of the DMA

Dallas philanthropist and longtime Dallas Museum of Art supporter Deedie Potter Rose has been collecting “wearable art” for years.  In 2012, Rose was in Vienna, visiting the gallery of Paul Asenbaum to see the Wiener Werkstätte furniture he deals in. He learned of Rose’s interest in contemporary jewelry — and proceeded to take her to his storage room and open drawer after drawer of his mother’s collection. Viennese gallerist and arts supporter Inge Asenbaum purchased jewelry pieces from the 1960s on — works by major designers, including Peter Skubic, Georg Dobler, William Harper and Wendy Ramshaw. In 2014, Rose purchased the collection.

Next year, the DMA will add the two-year position of Jewelry Research Associate to its staff — now that it has this important addition to the holdings it already has in Greek, Etruscan, African and pre-Columbian jewelry.  The Rose-Asenbaum Collection will go on display this summer as part of the ongoing exhibition, Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present.


Here’s the full release:

Dallas Museum of Art Acquires Collection
Of Modern and Contemporary Jewelry,
Featuring More Than 700 Works by Internationally Acclaimed Artists

The Rose-Asenbaum Collection Elevates the DMA
To One of the Foremost Jewelry Collections in the World

Dallas, TX—May 1, 2015—The Dallas Museum of Art has announced the acquisition of the Rose-Asenbaum Collection, an exemplary group of over 700 pieces of modern studio jewelry created by more than 150 acclaimed artists from Europe and around the world. The Rose-Asenbaum Collection includes a broad range of works from the 1960s through the end of the century. It contains particularly strong holdings of jewelry designed by Georg Dobler, Emmy van Leersum, Fritz Maierhofer, Hermann Jünger, Daniel Kruger, Claus Bury, Peter Skubic, Francesco Pavan, Gert Mossetig, Anton Cepka, and Wendy Ramshaw, and reflects the diverse styles, techniques, and materials that defined the studio jewelry movement in the latter half of the 20th century.

The collection is named for Inge Asenbaum (b. 1925), a celebrated Viennese gallerist, collector, and seminal figure in the field of design and jewelry. Her collection, which she amassed over four decades, was purchased by Dallas-based philanthropist and long-time DMA supporter Deedie Potter Rose in 2014 as a gift to the Museum. A DMA trustee since 1988, Rose has made innumerable contributions, including serving six years as Chairman of the Board. In 2005 Rose and her husband, Edward W., and fellow collectors Marguerite and the late Robert Hoffman and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky jointly pledged their private collections as an irrevocable bequest to the DMA, offering an important new model of community philanthropy within the museum world.

The acquisition of the Rose-Asenbaum Collection was coordinated at the direction of Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts & Design at the DMA, and joins the Museum’s
superlative holdings of modern design objects in other media as well as complements its Greek and Etruscan, African, pre-Columbian, and Indian jewelry. As an important new component of the Museum’s international collections, modern jewelry will greatly enhance the ability to portray the richness and depth of artistic enterprise through the very personal medium of “wearable art.” Selections from the Rose-Asenbaum Collection will go on public view at the DMA this summer as a new part of the ongoing exhibition Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present. In 2015 the Museum will add the two-year position of Jewelry Research Associate to its curatorial staff to prepare the collection and associated archive for publication and a more comprehensive installation of the collection and related jewelry holdings.

“The Rose-Asenbaum Collection is a distinct and exciting addition to the DMA’s growing jewelry collection and will serve as an important resource for our exhibitions and programs for years to come,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “As we continue to expand our Decorative Arts & Design department, the Rose-Asenbaum Collection will be essential in supporting the DMA’s scholarship in this field of study, strengthening the understanding and experience of modern and contemporary jewelry as a compelling genre within the broader contexts of sculpture and painting. We are extraordinarily grateful to Asenbaum for her commitment to the field, and to Deedie Rose for her generous gift of this collection to the Museum.”

“Through refinement, experimentation, and innovation, the artists represented in this collection have reimagined jewelry beyond its origins as conventionally precious and personal objects to transform them into works layered with meaning. The Rose-Asenbaum Collection provides special resonance with the DMA’s collections of modern and contemporary art as, freed from the usual constraints of design for practical function, these artists could and did explore conceptual issues questioning not just style and materials but the very role of the objects they were creating,” said Tucker.

Inge Asenbaum’s passion for design led to the creation of one of the world’s most significant collections of modern and contemporary jewelry. Her collection reflects major pivotal moments in the evolution and development of jewelry as an art form, including the New Jewelry Movement of the 1970s, when many artists such as Gerd Rothmann, Gijs Bakker, and Fritz Maierhofer began experimenting with unconventional materials like cardboard, felt, wood, plastic, and found objects; the 1980s, when artists like Georg Dobler, Giampaolo Babetto, and William Harper continued their exploration of jewelry as a sculptural object; and into the 1990s. The collection includes extensive holdings of Central European artists, particularly those from Germany and Austria.
Selected highlights from the Rose-Asenbaum Collection:

    • A geometric gold ring created by Australian designer Frank Bauer exemplifies the groundbreaking work of artists who sought to dissolve the boundaries between the so-called applied and fine arts in the 1970s and beyond.

    • A sculptural bracelet by Marta Breis, a Spanish artist, reflects the use of semiprecious and prosaic materials, including silver, plastic, and steel, another aspect of studio work in the 1970s and 1980s that questioned jewelry’s historic associations with materiality and preciousness.

    • A brooch by Italian designer Bruno Martinazzi presents an eyeball that stares at the viewer, suggesting jewelry’s function as a sculptural object to be worn and viewed.

About Inge Asenbaum
Inge (Ingeborg) Asenbaum (née Wald) was born in Vienna on January 6, 1925. Her mother’s family had their roots in German-speaking Bohemia; her father came from a Jewish Hungarian family that had converted to Protestantism. After the completion of her schooling, she studied acting until 1943.

After the war, in 1947, she married Herbert Asenbaum, whose family were art dealers. In 1952 the young couple opened an antique shop on Kärtner Straße, one of the premier business addresses in Vienna; while running the shop, Asenbaum developed a deep interest in antique jewelry and European design from the turn of the 20th century. She was among the first to assemble a collection of Viennese Jugendstil, an early modern German style echoing that of Art Nouveau in France and Belgium. In 1972 the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (now known as MAK) named her a consultant for Jugendstil designs.

In 1973 Asenbaum opened the legendary Galerie am Graben, a center and hub for contemporary avant-garde jewelry. In the beginning, she financed exhibitions there for young and unknown jewelry artists through the sale of antique jewelry and art objects from the turn of the 20th century. Over time, her activity as gallerist allowed Inge Asenbaum to build up a highly significant collection focused on Central European jewelry in the second half of the 20th century. In addition, she supported artists in the former Eastern bloc countries and gave them opportunities to show their works in the West, collaborating on many exhibitions and injecting many of the artists she supported into the international museum scene.

About Kevin Tucker
Kevin William Tucker joined the Dallas Museum of Art as Curator of Decorative Arts and Design in June 2003. He has more than 20 years of experience in the field, and is a specialist in American decorative arts and design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tucker came to the DMA from the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina, where he had most recently served as Chief Curator and Deputy Director. In addition to his work in Columbia, Tucker served as Curator of Decorative Arts & Owens-Thomas House at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia (1999–2000).

In December 2013, Tucker was responsible for the DMA’s acquisition of an early 20th-century masterpiece by the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), the solid silver and gem-studded Wittgenstein Vitrine by designer Carl Otto Czeschka. The Wittgenstein Vitrine is currently the subject of the Conservation Gallery installation Modern Opulence in Vienna: The Wittgenstein Vitrine, on view through October 18, 2015.

In addition to organizing the retrospective of one of the seminal figures of early 20th-century design, Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement (2010), Tucker has lectured and written on various aspects of modern design. He was the Dallas Museum of Art’s project director and co-curator for the nationally touring exhibition Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design (2005) and served as an editor and contributor for its accompanying award-winning catalogue. Additionally, he led the reinstallation of the Museum’s American decorative arts holdings, including the creation of galleries dedicated to 19th-century American silver and 20th-century design.

Tucker holds an M.A. in Applied History/Museum Studies and a B.A. in History from the University of South Carolina and was the recipient of a 2007 Winterthur Research Fellowship.

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