Porcelain. Quick, what first comes to mind? The tea set Aunt Edna left you in her will? Those incredibly delicate sculptures you see in antique shops that make you think immediately “dust catcher”?
Me too. But, I was just having a glass of wine (of course I was) last week, when two people near me started one of those” Jeff Koons: Love Him, or his Name Makes Me Want to Gag” conversations. Well, we’ve all heard those – and a lot of us have had them. But one thing struck me – the conversation moved on to innovative materials that Koons used. Porcelain – I mean, really. Something my grandmother used to have on the dining room table. Something in the realm of decorative arts collectors, turned on its head.
Of course I knew about the amazing sculptures Louise Bourgeois did, and Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds”, but I had been thinking about them as an anomaly – boy was I wrong! Several friends had been raving about a show (which I just missed), “un peu de terre sur la peau” at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, which closed in August. I saw an amazing exhibition by Sevres during FIAC time in Paris, last October, and then I really started thinking.
So I called a couple of dealers I know who can reliably be counted on to know about, as the extraordinary Robert Hughes called it, “the Shock of The New” . Marc Pottier, who works mostly in Rio de Janeiro and Paris confirmed it – artists are re-thinking materials that used to be just used for “the decorative arts”. Ralph Wernicke of Berlin confirmed it, and in fact is working with an artist on a project of his own.
It turns out that Meissen opened a Museum of Modern Art in 2012, Wim Delvoye has been working with Nymphenburg, Devilrobots is doing figures with Lladro – OK I’m impressed.
Oh, and Jeff Koons, who started this whole train of thought, is doing plates with Bernardaud.