Karl Fritsch had a traditional training as a jeweller, a background that continues to strongly inform his practice to this day. Although he still works in jewellery, Fritsch’s work intentionally subverts, and sometimes parodies, the traditional notions of beauty and value that are inextricably linked to the jeweller’s craft. Fritsch is widely regarded as one of the most influential contemporary jewellers, for his idiosyncratic personal approach and unconventional use of jewellery techniques.
Fritsch began his studies as a goldsmith at the Goldschmiedeschule Pforzheim, before going on to the Akademie der Bildenden in Munich. In 2006, Fritsch was the recipient of the Françoise van den Bosch Award, a biannual prize awarded to an international jeweller or object maker for their “influence and contribution to the field.” Fritsch worked in Munich until 2009, when he moved to New Zealand with his partner Lisa Walker, also a contemporary jeweller.
Fritsch is perhaps best known for his production of rings. Whereas rings are traditionally formed by hammering and soldering a strip of metal, Fritsch uses lost-wax casting to make his rings, allowing him to create a range of hand-formed shapes, often complete with fingerprints and other “imperfections.” He also often repairs and modifies existing objects, reconfiguring them into new hybrid creations.
Fritsch is also known for his collaborations with other New Zealand artists, such as Francis Upritchard and Gavin Hipkins.