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portrait of Christensen

Hans Christensen

Internationally known silversmith Hans Christensen started his career in 1939. He studied technical aspects of design at the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, Denmark. The courses at the School of Arts and Crafts were taught by master craftsmen, but not for financial gain. They strongly believed in sharing their knowledge of craft, both technically and aesthetically, with the next generations of silversmiths; a belief that follows Christensen throughout his career. Christiansen earned his master's degree after twelve years of study, in 1953.

Christensen also worked in Georg Jensen's Silversmithy for ten years. He worked in the hollowware department altering hollowware designs so to be put into production; a rewarding, yet demanding task for Christensen. During the last four years of his time at Jensen's shop he was the head of the model department. Hans Christensen also taught at the School of Arts and Crafts, Copenhagen. There he realized how much he truly enjoyed teaching and continued to volunteer more and more of time to teaching. Shortly after this experience, in 1954, he moved to the United States to teach silversmithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, School for American Craftsman, Rochester, New York.

Christensen taught two generations of silversmiths over the twenty-nine years at the School for American Craftsmen, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York. He taught his students a traditional European style that was based in formal design principles and also technically demanding. This style is often referred to as the Scandinavian style. Shortly after his arrival in the United States Christensen opened a shop making and selling utilitarian pots and pans. However, he did notice that there was more interest in decorative objects rather than purely functional objects; thus, his work reflected some of these interests. Christensen insisted that the function of a craftsman is to serve humanity and to make objects for people that help to define their individuality.

Commissioned pieces were executed for numerous people and organizations by Christensen. He conducted extensive research for each piece before he would begin making it. After several scaled drawings he calculated approximate material costs and usually visited churches before creating ecclesiastical pieces. Christensen's works are found in over thirty two churches worldwide, including the Vatican. His work is also found in the collections of five royal families in England, Denmark, Norway, Iran, Sweden and in the collections of past United States Presidents and congressmen.

Hans Christensen was presented with many honors throughout his career. Among these honors include two medallions from King Frederick of Denmark. In 1970 he was awarded awarded lifelong status as a Fellow of the American Craft Council. Christensen also held the nation's only endowed chair in the crafts for the Charlotte F. Mowris Professorship in Contemporary Crafts.

Hans Christensen passed away on Jan 16, 1983.