John Prip

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John Prip surrounded by students at the Rochester Institute of Technology

John Axel Prip (1922 - 2009), also known as Jack Prip, was a master metalsmith known for setting standards of excellence in American metalsmithing. His works and designs have become famous for bringing together the formal, technical tradition of Danish design into harmony with the American desire for innovation. Several of his designs for the Reed and Barton Company are still in production today.

Career[edit]

Childhood[edit]

Sterling silver Reed & Barton coffee service

John Prip was born in New York of a Danish father and an American mother. As a child, he moved to Denmark with his family, where his father ran a silversmithing factory that had been his grandfather's. At 15, Prip began an apprenticeship while attending high school. The next five years were spent polishing stakes, sweeping up, and laboriously reproducing classical renderings. The experience taught diligence and a deeply rooted technical skill, but simultaneously imposed a restricted aesthetic. In a way it was the unlearning of these traditional forms and procedures that pushed the young silversmith into bold experiments and motivated the innovations that distinguished his career.

Early Career[edit]

In 1948, Prip returned to the United States with his wife, Karen, and infant son, Peter. He came over on the same boat with a woodworker named Tage Frid, who was to become a lifelong colleague and friend. They had both been invited to teach at a new school in Alfred, New York, called the School for American Craftsmen. At the time, there were few places to study and limited knowledge of metalsmithing techniques in the United States. Prip's position was unique: his Danish training provided him with firm technical grounding, while his American environment encouraged the attitude of exploration and innovation that became a hallmark of his career.

Mid-Career[edit]

Silver flatware set

When the school moved to the Rochester Institute of Technology two years later, Jack and his family, which now included daughter Janet, moved along with it. It was during this time in the early '50s that Prip and the crafts movement were eagerly searching for their own style. Along with Frans Wildenhain, Tage Frid, Ronald Pearson, and others, Prip established a gallery in Rochester called Shop One. This gallery was a unique institution in its time, providing not only a business venture originated and managed by craftsmen, but also a forum for the presentation of top quality avant-garde craftwork. Its mission was to educate the public to the special beauty of handmade objects.

In 1957, after three years with Shop One, Prip again felt the need to move on. Through some fortunate connections he was hired by Reed and Barton Company, a holloware and flatware manufacturer in Massachusetts. The title invented for the role he conceived was Artist-Craftsman-Residence. He was given a workspace, materials, and access to the 900-worker factory. It was understood that Prip had a responsibility to address himself to work that might eventually profit the company, but beyond that guidance no restrictions were imposed. Prip was to stay at Reed and Barton for three years. One indication of his success there is the fact that 20 years later several of his designs are still in production.

Late career[edit]

Prip returned to teaching at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and after three years went to the [Rhode Island School of Design], where he would teach until 1981.

Timeline[edit]

Education[edit]

Silver bowl with modernist base design

1937-1942: Apprenticeship with Master Silversmith Evald Nielsen. Completed required journeyman's piece, awarded silver medal/Hertz Award Copenhagen Technical School, Diploma

Teaching/Lectures[edit]

1986: John E. McIntee, Jr. Memorial Lecture, Rochester Institute of Technology, NY

1978: Guest lecturer, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1977: Visiting Professor of Jewelry & Metalsmithing, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1975: Guest Lecturer, California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland, CA

1973: Guest lecturer, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Guest lecturer, Rhode Island Society of Artists & Craftsmen

1972: Guest lecturer, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1971: Guest lecturer, California State College, Long Beach, CA

1970: Began undergraduate program, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

1969: Began graduate program, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

1963-1980: Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

1963: Instructor, Department of Industrial Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

1962: Instructor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

1960-1962: Part-time teaching, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1955: Guest lecturer, Detroit Guild of Metal Artists, Detroit, MI

1950: Coordinated Handy & Harman Workshops with Reginald Hill and Baron Fleming

1948-1954: Teacher/craftsman, Head of Jewelry & Silversmithing, School for American Craftsmen, Alfred University, and when it moved to Rochester Institute of Technology, NY

Professional[edit]

Amorphic martini pitcher with serving cups

1984: Re-established studio in Rehoboth, MA

1957-1960: Appointed "Designer/Craftsman in Residence," Reed & Barton Silversmiths, Taunton, MA

1957: Continued production of individual pieces of holloware and jewelry for Shop One

1955-1957: Design consultant, Metal Arts Company of holloware and jewelry for Shop One

1954-1956: Design consultant, Hickock Corporation

1954: Formed partnership with Ronald Hayes Pearson as independent designer/craftsman

1952-1953: Co-founded "Shop One," with Tage Frid, Ronald Hayes Pearson & Frans Wildenhain, Rochester, NY

1945-1948: Worked for several Danish and Swedish firms as designer/craftsman. Also worked for short period in family silver flatware business

Selected Exhibitions[edit]

2005: "Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design," Dallas Museum of Art (traveled)

1986: "Craft Today: Poetry of the Physical," American Craft Museum, New York (traveled)

1980: "For the Tabletop," American Craft Museum, New York, NY

1979: "Silver in American Life," Yale University Art Gallery (traveled through 1982)

1977: Philadelphia Museum of Art Invitational, PA

1975: "Forms in Metal-275 Years of Metalsmithing in America," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY (travelled)

1974: "American Metalsmiths," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

1973: "'73 International Jewellery Arts Exhibition," Tokyo, Japan

1972: "John Prip/Metal," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

1971: "Holloware '71" Invitational, Fine Arts Gallery, State University of New York College at Brockport, Brockport, NY

"Schmuck-Objekte, Goldschmiede Finden Neue Formen," Museum Bellerive, Zürich, Switzerland

1970: "Goldsmith '70" Invitational, Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN (traveled) "Artsts Craftsmen '70" Invitational

1969: "Objects: U.S.A. The Johnson Collection of Contemporary Crafts (traveled through 1972)

1968: Tyler Invitational, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

1965: "The New England Silversmith," Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

1964: "30 Americans," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY "The American Craftsman," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY "Craftsmanship Defined," Philadelphia Museum College of Art, PA "Designed for Production: The Craftsman's Approach," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

1962: "A Craftsman's Role in Modern Industry: John Prip at Reed & Barton," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

1958: Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY United States Pavilion, Brussels World's Fair, Belgium

1956: "Craftsmanship in a Changing World," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY Finger Lakes Annual, Rochester, NY (First Prize)

1955: Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY

1954: "American Designers," Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY Finger Lakes Annual, Rochester, NY (D'Amanda Award)

1953: "Designer Craftsmen, U.S.A. 1953," Brooklyn Museum, NY (traveled)

1952: Finger Lakes Annual, Rochester, NY (First Prize) 5th Annual Arts & Crafts Competition and Graphic Arts Exhibition, Los Angeles, CA (First Prize)

1949: 4th Annual Decorative Arts and Ceramics Exhibition, Wichita Art Association, KS (First Prize)

Awards/Honors[edit]

1986: Awarded National Endowment for the Arts grant

1977: Elected Fellow of the American Crafts Council

1974: Juror: "Midwest Artist/Craftsman," Columbus Museum of Fine Art, Columbus, OH

1970: Juror: "Goldsmith '70" Invitational, Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN (traveled)

1968-1977: Elected trustee, Performing & Visual Arts Society, New York, NY

1966: Juror: Artist/Craftsmen, U.S.A.," Wilmington, DE

1964: Featured Artist/Craftsman, New York World's Fair, Sponsored by American Educational Council panel Participant, First World Congress of Craftsmen, Columbia University, New York, NY

1956: Lillian Fairchild Award for Creative Achievement, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY Juror: "Midwest Designer/Craftsmen," Milwaukee, WI

Memberships[edit]

1971: Founding member, Society of North American Goldsmiths

Sources[edit]

  • John Prip: Master Metalsmith (Rhode Island School of Design, 1987).
  • Society of American Silversmiths