Herman Hermsen



The retrospective exhibition of the distinguished Dutch artist, well-known for radical minimalism of his jewellery works. Herman Hermsen is lecturer at the University of Applied Arts in Düsseldorf.

Since I started as a designer the main challenge and item in my work is looking for new concepts and new technical solutions within a contemporary interpretation of traditional values and crafts in combination with expressive and innovative design.

My jewellery can be concipated as unique piece or for serial manufacturing. A certain concept is always important , but can be very different. Concepts as  new interpretations of the meaning of the jewellery, concepts with a technical/constructive approach or concept more critical about materialistic values. Sometimes also from a associative or annecdotic point of view.

Herman Hermsen


[…] That Herman Hermsen’s jewellery has never been primarily about adornment is nowhere more evident than in his early pieces. […]Spurning conventional notions of beauty, elegance, opulence and preciousness, Hermsen’s works soon became cult and some were produced in comparatively large numbers. Uncompromising and linear, reduced to geometrical minimal design, featuring strong monochromatic colours, eschewing fussy fastening solutions and being critical of anything even remotely decorative, his jewellery counted undoubtedly among the most radical of its time, resembling cryptic, provocative commentaries. Refreshingly mischievous, innovative, intelligent and seemingly casual it was everything that traditional jewellery with its focus on monetary value and status was not. […]

[…] It is either commonplace photos clipped from ordinary print media, so-called found footage, or snapshots he has taken himself that have become increasingly motifs in his latest jewellery. Whereas other jewellery makers recur to photography for its intrinsic nostalgic potential, Hermsen uses it to make socially relevant comments reflecting our times. His interventions into the photographic material he uses - mainly in brooches – pose questions about how images are generated, what influences our perception of images, what images stand for...in short, what an image constitutes in the first place. He also creates images utilizing the possibilities of reflection of the stones or placing stones on wood, but his strongest pieces are those where a complex interaction is effected by placing stones on found footage material or snapshots. Sometimes placative, verging on kitsch, at other times subtle and intricate, his interventions are not merely interesting to look at but also constitute a pleasure for the mind - in a way reminiscent of his early radical pieces. And it was not until after the turn of the century that arguably one of his most uncompromising conceptual pieces was created, ‘Slice of Jewellery’ that is exactly what is says: a slice of a huge amethyst. Radical. Minimal. And not so mellow, after all.

Barbara Maas
(fragments of introduction to the catalogue) 


HERMAN HERMSEN b. in 1953 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Education: Akademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Arnhem, the Netherlands, 1974 – 1979. Teaching: University of Applied Science in Düsseldorf, Germany, since 1992 till present; Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Arnhem, the Netherlands, 1990-1992; Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1985-1990. Guestlecturer at different schools, institutes or symposiums in Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, USA and Japan. His works were presented at several dozen solo and group exhibitions among other in: Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Czech Republic, USA, Canada, Australia and Japan. Works in several international museum collections.


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Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER 2020

April - June 2020

Culmination: 8 - 9 May 2020