Ballin, Mogens


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(b Copenhagen, 9 March 1871; d Copenhagen, 28 Jan 1941). Danish painter and metalworker. In his early career he worked as a painter, but in 1893 he converted from Judaism to Catholicism. He became interested in religious artefacts and abandoned painting for metalwork. In 1899 he opened a metal workshop with the sculptor Siegfried Wagner (1874-1952), which later became important to such Danish silversmiths as Georg Jensen and Just Andersen (1884-1943). Ballin specialized in works in pewter and silver, and his metal pieces are among the Danish works closest to international Art Nouveau: he combined its arabesque forms with simple, taut linear ornament. His importance lies in his encouragement of good design in less expensive materials (e.g. his simple pewter dish, c. 1899-1907; Stockholm Nmus.). He wanted to create a people's art which, following the principles of William Morris, would be a real handicraft and not machine work. Pewter was his favourite material, and he chased and beat it to highly textural effect, sometimes combining it with other metals, as in the pewter and brass christening font he made with Siegfried Wagner in 1899 for Hellerup church. In 1907 Ballin sold his workshop in order to work as an instructor at Copenhagen's Catholic high school.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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