Dorothea Pruhl

Wasser Blumen II, 1989
aluminium, stainless steel

To look at it, it’s nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s just two bits of aluminium piping about one centimetre in diameter, such as one might find in any plumber’s yard. Their original purpose was probably to conduct gas. The tubing does not have a welding seam – a prerequisite for goldsmith Dorothea Prühl, in view of the extreme processing to which the metal is subjected. Hence, out of two pieces of aluminium pipe, two brooches have been made: “Wasserblumen II” (Water flowers II).

“Large – expansive – empty” – those are the key terms describing Dorothea Prühl’s work. Everything she makes is plain and simple and endowed with an enormous generosity. Her solutions are always nonchalant, unpretentious and easy to understand. They are simple basic forms and “transparent” links, elements and arrangements that repeat themselves yet which are never exactly the same, thoroughly monumental artefacts that make full use of their wearer’s body surface. Everything seems to be unlimited. “Plasticity calls for grandeur”, she says. And her jewellery is just as demanding in the wearing as it is in the making. But it’s always wearable. To see and experience the organic as well as the inorganic is the basic nature of her work.

Dorothea Prühl’s skill is displayed in a casual, unobtrusive way. Her jewellery
creations often seem to be meagre and simplistic, in the case of the water blooms unintentional, as though a child’s hands were trying to say “flower”. But it takes many years of practice in handling metal to craft a piece of aluminium to such a degree of fineness without damaging the material (“If I had, I would have thrown it away”). This is a skill which is fully at the disposal of artistic ideas, serving the intention behind Prühl’s design and thus granting her a virtually reckless freedom in conceptual creativity.

“The form evolves from an overarching idea to which the material and
technique are subservient”. Manual skill – the ability to craft material in a masterly way – supports the artistic intention, otherwise has no intrinsic value. Manual dexterity gives a goldsmith freedom, and consequently enables the goldsmith to attain greater freedom the higher the level of ability. As far as the artistic potential of a piece is concerned, skill is hence a guarantee for quality. Recipients benefit from a living knowledge of the materials which surround us. Dorothea Prühl calls it “thinking in material”. “Thinking in material is a strong, creative force”.

Gabi Dewald

Dorothea Prühl (born 1937 in Silesia) is a jewellery artist. She lives and works in Halle, Germany.




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