Ryan Blackwell: Mother’s Bad Dreams, detail, 2011
Ryan Blackwell: Untitled (White Shelf), 2012, Shelf, Clay, Oil, Acrylic, Resin, Wood Glue, Hardware, 43.25 x 10.25 x 2 in.
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.
Ellen Schön: Five Hills Font, 2011, Smoke-fired clay, 15” x 22” x 22”
Francesco Ardini: Organic Mutation, 2012, Ceramic, Light grey and Eletric blue matt glaze mixed with sand (990°C), Vase H65 cm.
Francesco Ardini: Envelope - Turquoise (left), Pink Flesh (right), 2012, Stoneware (1100°C), Glazes (990°C), approx 44-55 cm.
David Gallagher: Specific Ubiquity (Green Space), 2010, Portland Cement, Lab Glass, Miracle Grow, Unfired Iron Rich Clay, Grass
Elizabeth Shriver: Seed Pod, 2007, Ceramic, 13 x 17 x 17 in.
Ruth Duckworth exhibition / Erskine Hall & Coe, London
September 5 - October 4, 2012
Erskine, Hall & Coe are pleased to announce the exhibition of the celebrated contemporary sculptor, Ruth Duckworth.
The exhibition includes 22 artworks in bronze, porcelain and stoneware. The earliest dates from 1965 but the majority of pieces are from the period of late 1980s through to work completed in the final year of Duckworth’s life. The gallery has been working closely with Thea Burger, who represents the Duckworth Estate.
Writing in her essay to accompany the exhibition Thea Burger states:
“Duckworth was a modernist sculptor who loved form. She was not about colour, but was about the subtle shape of her pieces. Her forms are typically created in porcelain, stoneware, or bronze. Much admired, she has art works in most of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Los Angeles Country Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Tokyo Museum of Art.”
In Ruth Duckworth, Modernist Sculptor written by Jo Lauria and Tony Birks, Duckworth talks of her process of creating a sculpture: Ruth Duckworth Porcelain.
“Play is the essence of creativity. Creative play and gut reaction, instinct. When I work on a piece, I play. I have a whole huge section of the studio where I have an inventory of sculptural forms, simple, abstract, non-specific shapes that I find beautiful and enjoy making. Then I start building these shapes together. And when I find myself smiling, I say “hello!” I think I’ve got something. The process is intuitive, not intellectual. You have to learn to be spontaneous and trust yourself.”
Download the catalogue of the exhibition or view the catalogue online.
Langenthal retrospective / Musée Ariana, Geneva, Switzerland
May 23 - November 25, 2012
Opening reception: Wednesday, May 22 at 6.30 pm.
The Langenthal porcelain manufactory. From industrial design to Sunday china
The fascinating history of the only 20th century Swiss porcelain factory began in 1906 in the Bernese town of Langenthal. Deeply rooted in the Swiss identity, the porcelain manufactory Langenthal SA – affectionately known by its workers as the “Porzi” – became noted for its cutting-edge technology, the diversity of its products as well as the quality of its porcelain. The artistic output followed the dominant aesthetic currents of the century while still preserving its local character. From Art Nouveau and Art Deco to the deliciously “vintage” designs of the 1950s and 1960s, from pseudo-rustic to avant-garde propositions, from collaborations with artists and designers to the influence of the artistic directors of the manufactory, the history of Langenthal is closely linked to the evolution of taste.
This collaboration with the Langenthal manufactory has been an opportunity to update the rich archives : hand-painted design books, catalogues of forms and motifs, publicity leaflets and brochures, archive photos. Loans from public and private institutions enrich and complete the important collection of the Musée Ariana (over 1000 pieces). All the conditions have been met to allow a portrait to be drawn of 20th century industrial porcelain in Switzerland.
The History of A Courageous Project
When some notables of the Bernese town of Langenthal decided to found a porcelain manufactory in July 1906, they were armed with a good dose of courage and staunch enthusiasm. Indeed, after a century without any porcelain manufacture in Switzerland, there were no raw materials and, more particularly, no specialized local workforce available. They had to start completely from scratch in order to rewrite Switzerland into the porcelain history books.
After a chaotic start, production became more organized and the manufactory began displaying its goods in specialized exhibitions and fairs with encouraging success. The outbreak of the First World War curbed this momentum. In 1937, in order to reduce its dependence on imported coal, the manufactory constructed the first 24-hour electric tunnel kiln. This technological breakthrough allowed the company to increase and diversify its production.
After the Second World War, the manufactory enjoyed a heyday. The remarkable quality of the Swiss-made products enabled it to fight off the competitors. In 1964, the firm recorded the highest number of employees in its history, with 950 workers.
Anat Shiftan: Stilled Life / Vessels Gallery, Boston, USA
May 4 – May 27, 2012
Vessels Gallery is pleased to present Stilled Life, a solo exhibition of the new ceramic work of Anat Shiftan. Born in Israel, and with a degree from Hebrew University in English Literature and Philosophy, Shiftan received her MFA in Ceramics from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Design. In 2003, the artist joined the faculty at the State University of New York at New Paltz, School of Fine and Performing Arts, where she finds teaching essential to her creative process. She has participated in group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and was featured in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Biennale for Israeli Ceramicsas well as in the 4th Annual Jingdezhen Contemporary International Ceramics Exhibition, in Jingdezhen, China.
Shiftan is philosophically absorbed by nature and itsre-creation in art. She writes, “Looking at nature is a springboard for my artistic expression…” She is drawn in by the beauty of nature, the fluctuation between its symmetry and imbalance, its order and disarray. More importantly, however, she has become fascinated by the “packaging” of this nature as an art object throughout history. Shiftan is captivated by the human engagement with nature,by man’s desire to artistically capture what has been seen, andfinally by the process of doing it. This conversion from outside to inside, is just as much part of the subject matter as the clay itself.The artist works primarily in porcelain, and her pieces are markedly delicate and alluring, sometimes with sharp edges and coarse surfaces which may invite the viewer to look but not to touch.
Stilled Life continues Shiftan’s exploration of this dual role: nature in its own setting and nature domesticated. In her own words: “I contemplate the role of nature in artistic history, and I wonder if it is at all accessible to us today as a reality.”