Art-Knives in Context
“The knife, in all its many descended incarnations, very likely represents the oldest tool in human history. Its associations with hunting, thus life and death, and the eat or be eaten law of nature, tie the knife to the rawest, most basic, hence animal aspects of humanity. By necessity, the hunt led to a spiritual relationship with the animal kingdom.
As the most effective personal weapon for most of human history, bladed tools came to represent power and authority. It was only natural, as power and authority became less directly dependent on the blade, that knives and swords would be kept as traditional symbols, and thus could be decorated to symbolize the bearer's superiority. Through this new direction; the process of making art, humans achieve their highest echelon of evolutionary development.
Each of John Jensen's knives displays a personality that connects it to its ancient ancestors. But its materials and workmanship exemplify the highest levels of contemporary art and craft, and thus connects the full circle of the human experience.”
~ J. Langdon, Graphic Designer & Author
John Lewis Jensen
The recognition of knives as art...
John Jensen leads the way in creating ground breaking collectable art...
Based in Los Angeles, Jensen Knives exemplify the trend setting style of California artists who pioneer new forms of collectable art. A cross between fine jewelry and objects d' art, Jensen knives combine contemporary designs with the finest materials to create pieces of breathtaking edged sculpture. In Jensen's talented hands, the traditions of knife making are skillfully blended with innovative techniques and processes to create pieces of incredible power, delicacy and beauty.
By continually forging into this uncharted territory, John finds the pursuit of the knife as art both challenging and exciting. The limitless potential of this little explored form gives him immense freedom to push the envelope in design, materials and construction.
John is a classically trained goldsmith and sculptor with a degree in Jewelry + Metals from Rhode Island School of Design. His extensive education plays an important role in his overall approach. The particular skills he's acquired, both technical and conceptual are important aspects in his unique art-knife style, and are what truly sets his work apart.
By blending techniques from old-world craftsmanship along with modern technology, and utilizing the finest, and rarest of materials, John's innovative masterpieces stand in a class all their own. John's creations take hundreds of hours to produce. Each knife is hand crafted, one-of-a-kind, and truly an original work of art. Production is extremely limited which place his work amongst some of the most exclusive specialty items available.
Jensen Knives has been instrumental in the art world's new appreciation of knife making as a serious art form. John has single-handedly spearheaded the movement to bring the knife into the art arena. His personal quest to validate the knife as an art object has brought much publicity and recognition to the overall field.
In 2007, he curated the first ever museum exhibit on modern art knives at the "National Ornamental Metals Museum". John has been featured in more non-knife venues than any other knife maker. These prestigious and varied venues include "The Rock + Roll Hall of Fame", the "Sculptural Object, Functional Art Expo", the "Rochester Institute of Technology", and the "French Embassy" in Washington DC, among others.
Jensen knives have been featured in over 100 publications both national and international. All this publicity has helped establish John as the foremost authority on the modern art knife movement. In 2009, he was commissioned to curate the recently published "500 Knives", the first mainstream book on art knives in America.
Jensen's knives have been awarded prestigious recognition from leading art authorities including David McFadden; chief curator, "Museum of Arts and Design", Gretchen G. Keyworth; director and chief curator of the "Fuller Craft Museum", Bruce w. Pepich; executive director and curator of collections for the "Racine Art Museum", and Jo Lauria; independent curator and leading authority on Modern Decorative Arts, among others.
Exploring the dark side of beauty...
“Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend.”
~ Roger Scruton
The knife is a complicated object in that it most often evokes a complex array of emotions and associations. It is an inanimate object that has the potential to be highly revered and/or feared. A knife continually provides a provocative platform for art because it is so steeped in these deeply emotional responses.
Historically, knives and swords have been venerated as iconic objects. They were seen for their utility and function, while being simultaneously viewed as a symbol of power and status. In mythology, they are often associated with special abilities that can be used for either good or evil. Often times they are also linked with the hero's journey towards self-fulfillment.
The knife's function and status has drastically changed over time. Modern society tends to directly relate this object with the darker aspects of humanity. Today, knives are typically seen as weapons and as a psychological representation of violence. They are imbued with fear-based thoughts that are linked to aggression, brutality and cruelty.
In extreme opposition from the modern-day viewpoint, John explores the knife from a perspective of healing and beauty. His work is influenced and shaped by his unique personal story, which encompasses themes of transformation and the examination of duality.
At a young age, John was intimately introduced to the knife when he underwent over a dozen reconstructive surgeries to correct several facial birth defects. Throughout his formative years, sharp surgical instruments were in his face, both figuratively and literally. These unusual encounters led him to view the knife/scalpel as a symbol of regeneration. Overall, he was appreciative and thankful for their transformational function and ability. Yet, because of his experiences he was also forced to contemplate and question the meaning of beauty and imperfection.
In his quest to comprehend the aesthetics and the meaning of beauty, John became fascinated with both art and culture. He traveled throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and spent a great deal of his youth exploring the great museums of the world. His appreciation of art, history, and his overall understanding of life, was shaped in large part by his exposure to the world's great masterpieces. John was also greatly influenced by his exposure to archaeological relics especially tools, arms and armor. His fascination with edged objects developed as he contemplated their historical and personal significance.
In college, while studying abroad in Brittany, France, John began to piece together his great interest and passion for edged objects. While working on a series of abstract sculpture, John noticed that the image of the sword repeatedly presented itself in all of his work. This was a true epiphany; a revelation on how the knife had been in his subconscious waiting to be acknowledged. He returned home with the mission to discover, explore and re-interpret his life-long fascination with these iconic objects. John's original quest to understand beauty was transformed into the ultimate discovery of his perfect artistic platform.
For the past 18 years, John has been translating his understanding and vision of the knife into extraordinary works of art. He continues to evolve and bridge the knife's historical significance and it's modern viewpoint with his own unique perspective. Most-often John's work provokes complex contemplation, including controversial associations. The knife will never be an innocuous object; it will always evoke something positive or negative. Through each knife, John works to bring opposing polarities of thoughts, ideas and emotions together.
The dark side of humanity has never been so beautiful as seen through the eyes of the artist John Jensen. He strives to bring balance to the world by creating an object honest in its duality. With such a vast array of material to draw from, the knife as an art object continuously provides John a great platform for his artistic expressions.
A rare opportunity awaits you...