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Olle Ohlsson is a Swedish silversmith with a unique artistic expression that pushes limits. Trained as an artisan before studying to become an artist, he developed his own style at an early stage and was less influenced by the aesthetic ideals of the time. His work includes jewelry, corpus, sculpture and imaginative utilitarian items, such as bejeweled gold handles for canes.
Olle Ohlsson was born in Stockholm and grew up with his parents and sister in a creative home. His father was a musician and an innovative stay-at-home father. His mother, who was the family bread winner, was a cutter. She had been an artist’s model as a young woman and had been model to Carl Milles during the creation of the ”Orfeus” sculpture in Stockholm. The unconventional way of life had a big part in shaping Ohlsson into an artist who formed his own path.
He worked as an apprentice at C. G. Hallberg jewelers firm from 1944 to 1949, getting a sterling craftsman’s eduction. He proceeded to work for other firms including Atelier Borgila, Erik Fleming, W. A. Bohlin and Claës Giertta. Working for Giertta was particularly influential, since freedom in creativity was boosted there. He also began taking evening classes at Konstfack, which marked the start of his transition from artisan to artist. As a way of liberating his creativity, Olle Ohlsson started drawing in an abstract, seeking way that is reminiscent of cave paintings. This suggestive way of drawing can be seen rendered in the decor of many of his creations.
Olle Ohlsson started work as a designer at Ge-Kå jewelry firm in 1960. In his free time he experimented with silver, heating it up and making it shrink. He balanced on the edge of being a designer and an artist, which was met with some confusion from critics who expected to be able to place creators in one of the categories. However, at his debut in NK in 1965 he was applauded as being a brilliant renewer of his trade. He went on to work with silver and gold in unconventional ways, including precious stones as well as natural ones into his designs. Among his works are a set of gold cases, made from gold donated by the camera maker Victor Hasselblad, a golden anthill, silver teapots and hat sculptures. He has also created several public works, such as doors, wall reliefs, gates and prizes, including a gold potato for the Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. He is represented at, among others, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Goldsmiths’ Hall in London and Oslo Museum.
Literature: Silver & Guld. Olle Ohlsson. Gunnar Brusewitz & Anne-Marie Ericsson. Förlags AB Wiken, 1991
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