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Olaf Skoogfors, also known as Gustav Olaf Jansson, Gustav Olaf Johnson, and Olaf Gustav Skoogfors, was born in Bredsjo, Sweden in 1930. He immigrated to the United States with his family at a young age, but discovered his Scandinavian design heritage only years later. He studied illustration at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, but turned to silversmithing and jewelry. Graduating in 1957, he set up a small shop and sold his production-line work.
Skoogfors, a “constructivist by inclination," created compositions directly in metal. His early work exhibits a Scandinavian design aesthetic of clean lines and forms, influenced by his studies in the 1950s with Hans Christensen at the Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Craftsmen. Skoogfors's interest in pre-Columbian, Celtic, and Viking traditions influenced his later work. His aesthetic further evolved in the mid-1960s when he revived the lost wax-casting technique, which led him to create more nuanced textures and work with greater spontaneity of form.
An important practitioner in mid-twentieth century studio metalsmithing and jewelry, his work is in the collections of many museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.