In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art / Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art at Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge - Bowl with inscription and birds, Samanid period, 10th century

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art / Harvard Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge
January 31 - June 1, 2013

Harvard Art Museums present exhibition of Norma Jean Calderwood’s collection of Islamic Art
Includes Persian ceramics, illustrated manuscripts, drawings, and lacquerware

The Harvard Art Museums present In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, a special exhibition that showcases some 150 objects from the Persian cultural sphere, including luxury glazed ceramics of the early and medieval Islamic era, illustrated manuscripts of medieval epic poems, and lacquerware of the early modern era. The works in this little-known and largely unpublished collection represent 30 years of committed collecting by Mrs. Calderwood. In Harmony is on display January 31–June 1, 2013 at the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.

The exhibition is curated by Mary McWilliams, Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums. An accompanying catalogue, edited by McWilliams, offers illustrated entries and nine essays written by distinguished scholars and conservation scientists from a broad range of specialties.

“In the decade since the Harvard Art Museums received the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, our gratitude has only increased for this magnificent gift,” said McWilliams. “Our research on the collection has inspired an even greater admiration and respect for Norma Jean’s knowledge and achievement. With this exhibition and catalogue, we hope to share with a broader audience the understanding we have gained of this beautiful and thoughtfully formed collection.”

“There has been exponential growth in the study of Islamic art in recent decades,” said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, “and Harvard University and the Harvard Art Museums have been at the forefront of this movement, with faculty, curators, students, and celebrated collections providing fertile ground for the field. The Calderwood Collection is a lasting contribution from a collector who understood the heart of our educational mission.”

The Calderwoods
Norma Jean Calderwood devoted much of her life to studying and teaching Islamic art and the complex of cultures in which it arose. She pursued graduate study in Islamic art at Harvard University, where she specialized in Persian manuscripts, and taught for many years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and at Boston College. A gifted lecturer, she was also an intrepid traveler, crossing North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia to study the art and architecture of Islamic lands. For three decades beginning in 1968, she systematically acquired examples of the artistic tradition that captivated her.

Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood were energetic and generous philanthropists in their adopted city of Boston. Institutions that have benefited directly from the Calderwoods’ generosity include the Boston Athenaeum, Boston College, the Cambridge Art Association, the Harvard Art Museums, the Huntington Theatre, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and public broadcaster WGBH. Their private art collection was the most tangible and personal expression of the Calderwoods’ lifelong involvement in the arts, but also the one least known to the public.

Bowl inscribed with sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and Ali ibn Abi Talib, Uzbekistan - In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art

The Calderwood Collection
The Calderwood Collection covers more than a thousand years of artistic achievement in the Persianate world during the Islamic era, principally through the media of ceramics, works on paper, and lacquer. The majority of objects were produced between the 9th and 19th centuries in Iran, Iraq, and parts of Central Asia. Initially attracted to luxury ceramics, Norma Jean Calderwood amassed 57 examples within a decade before shifting her attention to works on paper—illuminated and illustrated manuscript folios as well as single-page compositions. A handful of lacquer objects rounds out the collection. The collection was gifted to the Harvard Art Museums in 2002, and a subsequent exhibition of 46 objects, titled Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, was held August 7, 2004–January 2, 2005 at the Sackler Museum. That exhibition marked the first public showing of a major portion of the collection.

In Harmony
To convey to her students the effect of a Persian painting, Norma Jean Calderwood said that its many visual elements “united to form a harmony.” The theme is eloquently expressed in some of the finest works in the Calderwood Collection, as well as in the total assembly, with objects resonating through contrasts and connections. This exhibition celebrates the scope of Calderwood’s achievement and the harmony of purposes that led to the gifting of the collection to the Harvard Art Museums.

Read More

"In women’s hands" artwork by Italian artist Clara Garesio, donated to the United Nations Office

In womens hands artwork by Italian artist Clara Garesio, donated to the United Nations Office

In Women’s hands, an artwork by Italian artist Clara Garesio, created specifically for the High Level panel “The Power of Empowered Women” was  donated by the delegation of the European Union on February 25 to the United Nations Office at Geneva where it will remain part of the permanent collection.

Clara Garesio created the ceramic artwork specifically for the High Level panel “The Power of Empowered Women”, an initiative of the 40 women ambassadors to the UN, aimed at showcasing the experience of engaged women from politics, business and civil society who have overcome obstacles and developed approaches to move gender equality forward.

Unveiling the work, a ceremony in the presence of UNOG Director-General Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the EU Head of Delegation Mariangela Zappia said: “It is a special day for the European Union – as we offer the very first donation to the United Nations – and it is special for me as a woman since this beautiful piece of art is about the beauty, the simplicity and strength of women as positive transformative forces of our societies.”

(Source: eeas.europa.eu)

Ryan Blackwell: Untitled (Red Rectangle), details, 2012, Table Top, Clay, Oil, Acrylic, Curtain Wire, 41 x 28 x 2 in.

Ryan Blackwell: Thirteen Days or Ten Miles per Gallon, 2010, Ceramic (Stoneware and Native), Paper Rope, Wood Glue, 156 x 60 (variable) x 12 in.

Ryan Blackwell: Untitled (White Shelf), 2012, Shelf, Clay, Oil, Acrylic, Resin, Wood Glue, Hardware, 43.25 x 10.25 x 2 in.

Marie Torbensdatter Hermann exhibition / Galerie Nec, Paris

Marie Torbensdatter Hermann exhibition Galerie Nec, Paris

Marie Torbensdatter Hermann exhibition / Galerie Nec, Paris
October 26 - November 24, 2012

"The work reflects on some kind of strange family of domestic objects, they are bound together by a form of action, something undefinable but with a hint of a purpose. As if they are there for one very specific reason, each with a small specific individual function, but on their own they are un-significant, it is as a group how they become useful and self-sufficient. It is in the choice of grouping certain objects with each other and in the spacing of them, that they come into existence. I also see a big part of my practice as an arranger. Someone arranges objects and creates small details, small shots taken from a lager scenario. As if we have the time line in constant flux, I make the decision on where to cut out one image and create that as a memory of what ones was, before it moved on to become something else." Marie T. Hermann

“Looking around Marie T. Hermann’s most recent exhibition of work, we may well have a similar feeling: that we are in the presence of pots that don’t quite need us. They are just fine on their own, thank you. Poised atop their handmade clay shelves, microcosms like the implacably calm still life paintings of Morandi, or set out in a neat ring on the gallery floor, these ceramic sculptures have a quiet assurance, an ease that belies the difficulty of their own making.

You almost have to remind yourself that it’s by no means easy to create this sense of completeness. The usual way of doing it is to make objects that are resolutely alien to everyday experience: the abstract geometries of De Stijl, the weird and hermetic object-poems of the Surrealists, the industrial quality of Minimalist sculpture, or the unearthly light and space created by artist James Turrell. While Hermann’s work is influenced by all of these art historical references, she appeals to something more humble and humane than any of them. As is true of most potters, even those working in the manner of installation artists, daily use is constantly at issue for her – either as a haunting presence or a conspicuous absence. The inclusion of two plates, one sunk into its shelf and the other just emerging, gratifies our expectations on this score, even as the closing off of vases at the mouth refuses it.

While her commitment to achieving a unified aesthetic impression is total, it seems to me that her greatest interest as an artist comes at the level of the detail. Yes, she knows she must (according to some modernist logic) ‘earn’ the right to create an interesting shape, like a sharp break in the profile of a vase, or a gentle curve in the rim of a plate. For her, these subtle touches have to make sense within an overriding context.

Read More

Francesca DiMattio: Bloemenhouder and Kandelaar / Pippy Houldsworth, London

Francesca DiMattio: Bloemenhouder and Kandelaar exhibition Pippy Houldsworth Gallery London

Francesca DiMattio: Bloemenhouder and Kandelaar / Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London
October 10 - November 17, 2012

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present young New York artist Francesca DiMattio’s first solo exhibition in Europe from 10 October to 17 November 2012, and her first showing in London since her large scale canvases were seen in Saatchi Gallery’s Abstract America in 2009. Bloemenhouder and Kandelaar offers us the opportunity to see DiMattio’s vibrant and painterly sculptures standing on their own, showing the vitality and eccentricity of the large-scale ceramic pieces she has been developing over the past two years.

DiMattio’s paintings have often made reference to feminine craft techniques such as sewing, weaving or quilt making. In an attempt to shift the assumption that these crafts are most often delicate or small-scale domestic creations, she scales them up and uses a rougher, more masculine hand. Keeping with an interest in domestic craft, it is fitting that her sculptures are formed from ceramic. Using a material deeply ingrained in rules, craft and history, she turns it on its head by irreverently pulling from its history and pairing extravagant reference with crude slabs marked by fingers and punch marks.

In this exhibition, DiMattio investigates the history of porcelain to examine the ways in which visual iconography moves through culture. She looks at how porcelain’s visual history is one of copies, fakes and re-makes; how a revered technique such as the blue and white design found on a Ming Vase was copied by the English, Dutch and French, morphing and changing slightly through each iteration, and can now be found on a kitsch object in a gift shop. Like her paintings, the sculptures here juxtapose conflicting historical references, from 18th century English Wedgwood, French Rococo and Ming Dynasty to kitsch animal figurines. These are grafted objects, fusing disparate elements into a curious new whole. Each piece is made completely as one, rather than from found forms put together after the firing. The different passages affect one another, with glaze from one element interrupting, transforming and connecting multiple facets of the same sculpture.

DiMattio’s new work incorporates bases and handles of various forms, from gilded heaps of clay to delicately sculpted adorning flowers. Bases of piled up clay are reminiscent of Chris Ofili’s elephant dung, whilst a slumping torso-like coil pot seems on the verge of collapse. Debris made by sculpting animalia has been collected and put on the adjacent surface, creating a rough texture made of dust, chunks and trimmings, and elements in high gloss sit next to bright matte colour. DiMattio creates unstable and shifting objects that are a combination of various logics of taste. In Cuvette à Tombeau, one moment the china-painted landscape is beautiful and the bright rough-textured yellow feels broken, crude or flawed, and on a second look, the texture becomes vibrant and rich, whilst the landscape becomes something you might find in a thrift shop. The changeability of taste is heightened and examined through DiMattio’s uncanny pairings that ask the viewer to look closely at and interrogate these new abstract and de-hierarchised forms.

Read More

Ceramics Now Exhibition, 3rd edition / Galateea Gallery, Bucharest, Romania

Ceramics Now Exhibition - International contemporary ceramics exhibition, third edition

Ceramics Now Exhibition, 3rd edition / Galateea Gallery, Bucharest, Romania
November 8-26, 2012

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 8, 6:00 PM.

The international Ceramics Now Exhibition is an itinerary exhibition of contemporary ceramics which presents works of artists that are featured in Ceramics Now Magazine’s platforms or are invited. The exhibition reunites artists from different countries and communities, and facilitates contact between them and the public. Ceramics Now Magazine and Exhibition operate as an exchange platform between artists, galleries, museums, collectors and people passionate about art.

In the context of the globalization of arts and of rapid exchange of information, it is more and more necessary to make a serious coagulation of what is contemporary ceramics. The incorporation of many diverse subjects, working techniques and mediums in creating a ceramic object, are more and more frequent, risking if not counterbalanced, to take this domain back to crafts. The harmony between the compositional elements and concept can be realized through exercise, and this exercise is a reference point for contemporary artists. In creating a contemporary ceramic object, an equilibrium can be reached by those who feel the need to create and who create with depth. Originating either from Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia or America, practice, delicacy and accuracy are characteristics that unite them. The Ceramics Now Exhibition reunites these artists and brings their work together aiming to create an open platform between them and the public. The third edition of our main event will be held between 8-26th of November 2012, at Galateea Gallery, Bucharest, and will present the works of 22 world-renowned contemporary ceramic artists.

EXHIBITING ARTISTS: Steve Belz (USA), Gherghina Costea (Romania), Kimberly Cook (USA), Ossama Mahmoud Emam (Egypt), Nato Eristavi (Georgia), Jason Hackett (USA), Teresa and Helena Jané (Portugal), Brian Kakas (USA), Yoichiro Kamei (Japan), Kentaro Kawabata (Japan), Allison Luce (USA), Nicolae Moldovan (Romania), Akio Niisato (Japan), Heide Nonnenmacher (Germany), Szilvia Ortlieb (Austria), Barbara Schmid (Austria), Avital Sheffer (Australia), Suzanne Stumpf (USA), Kouzo Takeuchi (Japan), Shinya Tanoue (Japan), Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso (China), Gavril Zmicală (Romania).

Curator: Vasi Hîrdo
Coordinator: Cristina Popescu Russu

Ceramics Now Magazine is a comprehensive and innovative publication & online art platform specialized in contemporary ceramics. Founded in 2011, the magazine celebrates the creative field of ceramics through publishing interviews, reviews and works of new and world-renowned ceramic artists, and providing information on contemporary ceramic art exhibitions.

Read More

Cynthia Lahti exhibition / Zentrum für Keramik, Berlin

Cynthia Lahti exhibition Zentrum für Keramik Residency for Ceramics Berlin

Cynthia Lahti exhibition / Zentrum für Keramik, Berlin
November 4-11, 2012

Opening reception: November 4th, 2-5 PM.

We are very happy to announce the upcoming exhibition of artworks created Cynthia Lahti during her residency at the Zentrum für Keramik - Berlin. Cynthia is from Portland, Oregon, where she has been working as an artist for over 24 years. She is a mixed media artist whose work explores human emotions through the evocative power of the figure. 

"My goal is to create works of art that resonate with honesty and reflect the beauty and chaos of the world. My art is influenced by human artifacts from ancient times to the present, as well as by my personal experiences and emotions. Like the varied objects I draw on for inspiration - from 1940s knitting catalogs and outsider art, to Native American cedar carvings and Degas’ sculptures of dancers - my artworks force an explanation of reality and compel viewers to connect to a larger human experience. I work in various media, including drawing, collage, and sculpture." Cynthia Lahti

The Residency for Ceramics-Berlin is located in the neighborhood of Pankow, 3 miles north of Mitte, the center of East Berlin on a spacious lot surrounded by a beautiful old garden.

The residency is designed for artists working in clay or artists with a background in ceramics who wish to undertake a clay project and it provides an opportunity for them to work in a new context, to experiment and develop new approaches and to explore another culture. The location provides a fantastic opportunity to explore a fascinating city with a thriving local art scene.

Read More

When I Woke / Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Cwmbrân, UK

When I Woke exhibition Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Cwmbran, Wales

When I Woke / Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Cwmbrân, Wales, UK
October 6 - November 18, 2012

When I Woke – an exploration of the human condition curated by Claire Curneen and Lowri Davies.

When Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre invited celebrated ceramicists Claire Curneen and Lowri Davies to curate an exhibition as part of the centre’s “Makers to Creators” series both artists relished the opportunity to expand their artistic horizons and provide a completely different perspective to their practice.

Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘When I Woke’, the exhibition is full of questions about life, death and change. Each of the exhibitors examine the gritty questions which surround the human dilemma. The body and the figure are central to these artists and the exhibitors explore issues in relation to beauty, the visceral body, myth, folklore and tradition. The subject matter is complex and in very different ways they strive in search for something hidden or lost.

Artists: Tamsin van Essen, Sam Bakewell, James Page, Lina Peterson, Audrius Janusonis, Sophie Woodrow.

Tamsin van Essen explores the cultural obsessions with perfection and beauty. There is a tactile beauty in the objects surface and form yet they talk about the visceral decaying body which leaves us somewhat unsettled.

The visceral is also evident in Sam Bakewell and James Page’s work. Bakewell uses solid masses of clay to suggest the body, the objects are dense and immediately physical. These objects are not static forms, they are in a state of flux and are bursting with life.

James Page asks us to reassess our perception of our own bodies. His work is a celebration of the physical nature of the human body with an affirmation of our earthly connection.

Lina Peterson is a jeweller that tells a human story. Her work has a sense of the ritual, in some instances drawing inspiration from Roman artifacts. Peterson response to ancient artifacts is to ‘fill the gap’ and to put back what is missing, in turn creating a new and original narrative.

Audrius Janusonis and Sophie Woodrow use traditional figurative modes of practice. They explore a sense of place, often mythical and sometimes untangible. Janusonis is Lithuanian whose work is known across Europe but has never before been shown in  UK. His figures have a strong allegorical message often referencing the texts of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. His understanding of the human form is extraordinary.

Sophie Woodrow entices us in to a strange world where the relationship between animal and human are blurred. Her figures stare out at us revealing some sinister folk story. They are reminisent of staffordshire flatbacks, domestic in scale yet subversive in nature.

Read More

In memoriam Eugenia Pop / Interview

ROMANIAN CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS, October 2012

In memoriam Eugenia Pop
Eugenia Pop lived and worked in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where she graduated from the Ceramics Department of “Ion Andreescu” Arts Institute in 1971. Over the course of 40 years, she had exhibited in many countries and has been awarded for her career by the Romanian Government (Order of Cultural Merit) and the Fine Arts Union.

Eugenia Pop Romanian ceramic artist

Two days after our meeting in February, Eugenia Pop went to the Copăceni alms house, near Turda, to read in peace a book by Zhi Gang Sha. She wanted to learn how to communicate better with her guardian angel. She told us that the spirit must be cleaned more frequently.

We thank Jeni Pop from our hearts and promise to carry her optimism out in the world.

Interview by Alexandra Mureşan and Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine, Issue Two
February 2012

How did the fascination for ceramics started?

I graduated Ceramics at the Fine Arts Highschool in Cluj. In the twelfth grade I had an excessive curiosity to do work as much as possible, that’s why I chose ceramics. I was a colleague with Arina Ailincăi for 6 years. We were also six in the department. Our personalities were very different, and they remained the same. A sculptor inoculated me the idea of versions. He gave me a theme, a ceramic piece in an architectural environment. After a few sketches, he told me to do more versions. I didn’t like the idea – why make more versions when the first one was good enough? But, if the master told me, I had to do it. I did lots of versions and sketches, from bad to worse. He chose from the first two, and I remained very sad because I worked so hard on so many. After a while, the seed sprouted in my mind. I was at a Communist party meeting, and I got very bored. I had my sketchbook at me and I was doing all sorts of sketches and drawings. The expression was changing with little diversity if terms of form. I showed the sketches to my professor. It remained my method over the years.

Now I stopped doing more versions on a theme. I read books, for example those written by Rudolf Steiner, and I make illustrations on the pages. When reading a book twice, the images speak to me a lot more and I feel the text very differently when it’s illustrated, just like a plastic commentary.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

I broke up with the illustrative image of the exterior form. I adhered to the archetypal forms, which are interior forms of the soul, forms that kids use when drawing, but also used in the antic culture.

Mihai Oroveanu said “Look how monumental your works are,” even if they were very small. Dan Hăliucă said the contrary: “That’s how it should be – plenty and small.” I used this thing with plenty and small a lot, because that’s how the image of the soul is. The soul is very capacious. From it’s ampleness you can make plenty and small.

A moment of crystallization appeared when I found my personality – when I said that this is how I want to express myself. It was the humanity theme, the man. The mother man, the old man, the child man. Mother Earth. These are themes that I feel I synthesized.
When I was young, my mother used to call me “little golden thorn” – she couldn’t tell me that I was not right, but I was also very determined. I was telling the truth.

Eugenia Pop - Mother Earth, ceramics
Eugenia Pop, Mother Earth, 1985, Soft porcelain

What is your dearest part in elaborating a new work?

Each part has its own magic. The first one is sketching the idea and choosing the right drawing, then follows the modeling and making the negative. After that, the fascination of the firing starts. It is like when a mother gives birth – she doesn’t know how the child will look like or what color his eyes will be. It is just like that after the firing, when you remain charmed by an object, and you say to yourself that this is mine! – its color has changed and it shrank. After you inspect it for a while, you adopt it or not. Sometimes you have to say I’m sorry – this is not mine.

Read More

In relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, 1955-75 / University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson

German Relief Porzellan Exhibition, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson

In relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, 1955-75 / University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson
September 28, 2012 – January 27, 2013

Opening Reception: October 4, 5-7 pm.

A first-ever exhibition of a mid-century movement of German ceramics, known as relief-porzellan, debuts at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. Entitled: In Relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, 1955-75” the exhibition opens on September 28 and runs through January 27, 2013. Both the exhibition and reception are open to the public.

Lawrence Gipe, UA Associate Professor of Studio Art, has been collecting mid-century German ceramics known as relief-porzellan for a number of years. Little was known about these beautiful objects until Gipe undertook to discover the history of their production. This exhibition presents his fascinating research, bringing to light the stories behind the factories and individual artists who created the objects.

"Several years ago, I became aware of this unique genre of German ceramics," says Gipe. "These mass-produced objects were made in "biscuit" porcelain – a matte-white or black finish that leaves the shape unglazed and naked, unadorned in its starkness."

Between the years of 1955-1980, more than a dozen companies were producing the Relief-Porzellan ceramics, mostly vases. Artisans, working in small Bavarian towns, created hundreds of designs, both geometric and organic. Some of the ceramic objects were stamped on the bottoms with the name of the designer and the trademark of the company that produced them. Gipe’s visit to an archive in Selb, Germany, the venerable Rosenthal and Co., offered a trove of journals and files, revealing artists and providing attributions to previously anonymous pieces.

Research for the UAMA exhibition, In Relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, was made possible by a grant from the International Affairs Department at the University of Arizona. The University of Arizona Museum of Art includes more than 6,000 artworks in its permanent collection created by artists from the 14th through the 21st centuries. UAMA is one of only twelve museums in Arizona accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and one of only 750 museums of the 16,000 museums nationwide with this highest award for excellence in the museum field.

Read More