Olaf Skoogfors

(December 14, 2020) Olaf Skoogfors was one of a handful of metalsmiths who transformedcontemporary jewelry in 1960s America into the most dynamic and innovative of all crafts practices. Born Olaf Jansson in Sweden, the family name changed to Skoogfors (forest stream) when they emigrated to the US in 1945. He studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (later PCA @universityofthearts) before his graduate work at School for the American Craftsman in Rochester, where he worked with Hans Christensen, Ronald H. Pearson, Jack Prip, and Svetozar & Ruth Radakovich. These myriad influences led to his development of a body of work characterized by organic abstraction that lies somewhere between the latent influences of Scandinavian design and the preoccupation with rough-hewn organic forms prevalent in American crafts of the 60s. Treating jewelry as compositions for the body, he utilized texture and surface related to landscapes or sensuous human forms to create objects that made eloquent statements about form, texture, color, and image.

In this regard, he shared a close professional and personal bond wit

#stanleylechtzin, another young Phila. metalsmith breaking new ground. By 1969, Olaf chaired PCA’s crafts dept., while Lechtzin had established @tylermetals first MFA in jewelry. Together, they produced the next generation of leaders in the field, many who are today’s eminence grise’s. Both were founding members of the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen and the Society for North American Goldsmiths (@snagmetalsmith), reflecting their mutual dedication to establishing American jewelry as a major force in contemporary art both as practitioners, educators, and advocates. Considered by many as the dean of American jewelers, Olaf showed in over 80 regional, national, and international exhibitions. Among his achievements were the Tiffany Prize in 1967 and a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (@madmuseum) in 1968. He was represented by #helendrutt, who also collected his work in depth, placing it in museum collections globally, esp. @mfahouston @hermitage_museum @philamuseum #smithsonianamericanartmuseum #thedruttreport