UNTITLED (Image on right)
oxidized sterling silver
3/4 x 1 inch, approximate size: 3/4 inch in diameter
This piece by German artist Karl Fritsch has been moulded from a found signet band and cast in silver. The seams are visible, parts of the surface are black with oxidization, and the words ‘rich gang’ have been inscribed across the surface. The choice of the signet band is deliberate, as this historical form of a gentleman’s wearable would display the family crest or emblem of the wearer, and was a sign of authority and identity. For Fritsch, these pieces are great carriers of meaning. He writes, ‘The ring is desperate, desperate to find a finger, desperate to tell you: I love you, I am beautiful, I am rich, I am cool, I hate you, I come from Ireland or Austria, I want more, I have enough, I am married, I am funny, I am scary, stupid, important, I can´t help you. I am.’ This signet band also carries a message, and is a sign of status and group identity, although exactly what that group is, and how desirable membership might be, is left open to question. Trained as a traditional goldsmith, Fritsch is a graduate of the Munich Academy of Fine Art, and has developed a reputation for playfulness and irreverence as he embraces and challenges the history and traditions of making bands. His work is resides in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the National Gallery of Australia.