Jens O. Bille, a native of Lyngby, Denmark, has been a productive artist practically all of his life. Determined to become a jeweler, young Jens found a master goldsmith in Copenhagen who was willing to teach the eager fourteen-year-old during the summer vacation. The following summer, Bille availed himself of an opportunity to work in the prestigious Georg Jensen factory. In the summer of 1967, at the age of sixteen, he began a formal goldsmith apprenticeship. And it became immediately apparent that he was a natural.
After completing the apprenticeship and earning Journeyman’s papers, Bille opened an atelier in Copenhagen in the summer of 1971, where he sold his jewelry. He was just twenty years old. That year he began studies at the Royal Art Academy, in a program open only to educated gold– and silversmiths. In addition to courses in gemology, silversmithing and lapidary techniques, Bille pursued interests in art history—particularly, the Danish contribution to the Art Nouveau movement, and the goldsmithing legacy of the Scythian tribes who flourished near the Black Sea more than 1500 years B.C.E. As if all this didn’t keep him busy enough, he also taught goldsmithing and silversmithing techniques in an adult education program in Copenhagen from 1971 to 1976.
Upon graduating from the Royal Art Academy in 1973, he completed courses in pedagogy, earning a teaching certificate in 1974. That same year, Bille achieved membership in the internationally renowned Danish Goldsmith’s Guild. His atelier was doing well, and he was already exhibiting his jewelry, paintings and drawings in art galleries throughout Denmark.
Bille’s interest in the jewelry–making techniques of other cultures has taken him to Nepal, India and Malaysia, where he has studied with local masters. In Russia, he gained permission to view and study the extensive collection of Scythian gold artifacts and jewelry held in the Hermitage Museum, a level of access rarely granted to any European during the Cold War years.
Since 1984, Bille has been living and working in New York City. In addition to numerous shows in local art galleries, he has also exhibited twice at the Royal Danish Consulate General, as well as at the Danish–owned Unibank Gallery. Included in these shows have been gold, platinum, and silver jewelry, silver–and–wood sculptures, oil paintings, and drawings done in Chinese inks. The majority of the exhibitions have been one–man shows.
Jens O. Bille’s work is largely inspired by the aesthetic principles of his Norse ancestors. He has, in addition, drawn inspiration from the Existentialist philosophers, whose writings he has studied in depth. While he is known worldwide primarily for his jewelry, the often surrealistic oil paintings, sculptures, and drawings that he produces have also proved consistently attractive to collectors over the years.