In the contemporary ceramic art market it takes quite a few digits to be phased by the price of a work, surely more than $623,033. However, when one considers paying this for dirt sculpted by Rebecca Warren does this seem a bit absurd? This was exactly the price paid for a series of large unfired clay sculptures by Warren, titled SHE at the 2013 Christies, London auction. But context is everything. In this case the context is that Warren has been a leading internationally known contemporary sculptor for two decades. Indeed, if one accepts that it is a six pack, it might even shift to the bargain column. Warren’s blobby unfired figures would normally be dangerously fragile but for a compaction process that makes them quite stable. She also included caster wheels for easy mobility.
Putting humor aside, art has never been about practicality and Warren joins a number of artists working with unfired clay including Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Kristen Morgin, and Adrián Villar Rojas to name a few. These artists capture the drama of the material, letting it remain in a dry and brittle state that is lost once fired.
Juan Ortí has consistently worked within a tabletop scale, but his recent work of small sculptures shrinks yet again to fit in the palm of your hand. Collections of objects ranging from a medical syringe to a vase are united through material. Each tiny object is without glaze, a flat pristine white. Within Ortí’s growing lexicon of sculptures are small scale studies of his earlier spotted industrial tower works.
When artists and designers seek to reveal the handmade process of an object they typically focus on the material in production. Rather than exposing ceramic processes, Japan based Cement Design references basket weaving and sewing in their Trace Face collection of slip cast ceramics. The texture of knit sweaters and woven baskets has been translated into clay to create a distinct line of cups, bowls, jars, and lamps.
Milan based design team Adolini + Simonini combine the most basic of forms in their Upper collection to create a sleek freestanding or wall mounted washbasin. All embellishment has been striped away, resulting in simple form and functionality. Upper is available through White Ceramic amongst various other designs by Adolini+Simonini.
Natalia Gruszecka and Jakub Kwarciński of ENDE ceramics studio found inspiration through a discarded plaster mold for porcelain doll heads. The designers simply added a handle and made a few alterations to the cast head, thus creating the Doll Head Cup. The Polish design team appropriately chose to reproduce the series in Bone China, making a slightly disturbing reference to the body.
What do you think of this collection of contemporary ceramic art + design? Let us know in the comments.