The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Contemporary Ceramic Art from Sweden on View at The Design Museum in Ghent
Mårten Medbo (°1964) Objects, 2005, Stoneware. Photograph: Patrik Johansson.

GHENT.- Voices is an exhibition of work by ten pioneering Swedish ceramic artists. In curating this exhibition, Inger Molin has chosen ceramic artists from different generations and with very different voices and approaches to their work. What they have in common are that they are natural representatives – and leading exponents – of the dynamism and originality of contemporary ceramic art. Viewed together they enable us to discern something unique about the contemporary development of ceramics in Sweden. Free in their relationship to traditional ceramic art they seek new directions and emphasize freedom of expression. No longer is it the material that is important; but what the ceramic artist has to say.

Frida Fjellman, Renata Francescon, Eva Hild, Pontus Lindvall, Mårten Medbo, AnnaSofia Mååg, Gustaf Nordenskiöld, Kjell Rylander, Per B Sundberg and Kenneth Williamsson their work has been enthusiastically received both at home and abroad. The artists contributing their voices to the exhibition work sculpturally and conceptually, addressing existential issues with humour or as abstractions. Their various approaches and modes of expression are presented in the book Voices, published by Carlsson Bokförlag ISBN 9172037784, with an incisive essay by Sara Danius and Patrik Johansson’s evocative photographs.

Inger Molin, curator of Voices, has owned and run Galleri IngerMolin since the autumn of 1998. In 2002 she was awarded the Dynamo Prize by Sveriges Bildkonstnärsfond.

Take some coils of porcelain clay, fire them in a kiln and tie them together with lengths of orange climbing rope. What is the result ?

A ceramic object signed Gustaf Nordenskiöld. The work, from 2004, is entitled Klyka”. With al little goodwill, the object can be seen as a sort of basket. One might readily place it on the living-room table and fill it with mandarin oranges. This is what we are given.

But there is something else, too : a snapshot of Swedish craft art today. It is only something with the strength of a climbing rope that can possibly hold contemporary ceramics together. Today ceramics wants to go in all directions. It wants to be sculpture, poetry, happening, installations, communication, revolution. And there is basically nothing that can restrain these urges.

When did this happen ? It is difficult to say exactly. But about a decade ago the banks burst. The vessel-form ceased to be mandatory in ceramics. Producing containers was pushed into the shade. Clay became one material among many others. Craft art began to reflect on its nature and it set out to transgress the boundaries of art.

Today it is virtually impossible to determine where craft art ends and art begins. Or, differently put : contemporary craft art has been so successful in crossing borders that concepts like art, handicrafts, craft arts and design are under greater pressure today than ever before.

Two main currents are evident. On the one hand a late-modernist current making itself felt. It finds expression in a sculptural type of art, ranging from an austere, controlled and abstracted organic style to a more naturalistic, concrete mode of expression. This is a daring sculptural operation that emphasizes the expressive possibilities inherent in clay. The clay is often fired though not always. At any rate, the material becomes the bearer of a remarkable range of expression that sculpts empty space in a new manner. The desire to create on an architectonic scale exists side by side with a powerful sensuality. Ceramists can equally well be categorized as sculptors.

On the other hand one can see a postmodernist trend that finds expression in an eclecticism that is as bold as it is systematic. The clay is just one material among others and it may readily be coupled with tape and plastic. Style is history, purity and obsolete ideal. Contemporary ceramists quote, borrow, create pastiches, make ironic remarks, experiment, mix. The not-beautiful reigns. High is opposed to low, sublime to kitsch, beautiful to gruesome, dry to sticky, exclusive to cheap. There is a concept which is seldom mentioned in craft contexts but which needs to be dusted off and put back into use : the concept of camp. In the last few years Swedish craft art has been strikingly camped up. As Susan Sontag suggests in her classic essay, camp is concerned with a love of the hyperbolic, of things that are simply too much, of artificial ruins, of naïve seriousness, of things-that-are-what-they-are-not, like that art-nouveau lamp imitating a swollen fungus or a flower in full bloom. And alongside this preoccupation with camp one glimpses a desire for change, not just of the specific task of craft art but of the society in which this art is produced.

What is art ? And what are handicrafts ? This is really quite simple. Art is skill and craft is the work of our hands. In that sense, all who master an art are artists and all work done by hand is craft.

When we talk about art today, however, we seldom think of masters and of skills. We tend to be more pragmatic. By art we mean that which is shown at museums or is displayed on exhibition premises or is made by people who have attended art college. Art can be a monumental painting by Titian, a mass-produced, stainless-steel rabbit by Jeff Koons, an interior by Mona Hatoum or a detergent packet by Andy Warhol. When we speak of craftsmen we mean floor-layers, bookbinders, goldsmiths.

So what is craft art ? Historically speaking the concept belongs to the machine age. One has to go back to the early nineteenth century, the age of mechanization, to understand the concept and its historical charge. Human beings have always modified their surroundings using their hands, as Siegfried Giedion points out in Mechanization Takes Command (1948). The hand is an organic tool that can grip, grasp, press, beat, pull, form, massage, squeeze, scratch and point. The hand is extraordinarily flexible. It is also a highly intelligent and hypersensitive surveying instrument. It really only has one limitation : it cannot carry on working endlessly. But the machine can.

Over the centuries there was no point in talking about handicrafts because all work was basically done by hand. In Hamlet, Shakespeare even speaks af the body as a machine. In this period no conceptual conflict existed between body and machine, between the human and the mechanical. “Industry”, was understood differently from how we understand it today ; “industry” was a matter of being industrious.

During the nineteenth century large-scale mechanization of daily life began to be introduced and new tools, technologies and machines were invented : the camera, the egg wisk, the combine harvester, automated furnaces, the conveyor belt. They all have one thing in common : they function as extensions of the human hand.

It is in this increasingly standardized production culture that the concept of craft art arose. The human hand acquired a new meaning : it became a corrective to everything that the machine represented. Whereas, previously, the body had been regarded as a sort of machine, a clear distinction now emerged between body and machine, between the human and the technological. The concept of art came to be identified with what was human, corporeal and manual as opposed to things mechanical and technological.

William Morris, the principal ideologist of the British arts and crafts movement, held the view that it was absence of a human contribution that made industrial products worthless. A terracotta pot that had been formed by hand was worth more than any amount of Carrara marble polished by machines, Morris maintained in an essay on ceramics from 1882. Manual work needed to be visible to the eye, he stressed, not just with regard to the surface and texture of the vessel but also in its ornamentation.

The logic is easy to grasp. When china tableware and other household items can be mass-produced, ceramists are forced into new domains. The same thing applies to glassmaking. This was why Morris insisted that we should be able to see that items have been made by hand. And from there it was a short step to a new historical phenomenon. The ceramist was no longer just a master craftsman. He could also be seen as a sort of auteur, as a producer of unique artefacts. And these unique artefacts bore the traces of his stylistic fingerprint. The ceramist could now be considered an artist in our modern sense. The concept of the craftsperson as auteur cast long shadows into our own era.

Where does ceramic art belong ? In the kitchen ? Or in the temple .
Everything started in the kitchen. As long as there have been human beings there have been vessels. If clay is an Ur-material, then the vessel is an Ur-form. The vessel mediates between humans and nature. With the help of the vessel we can fill, empty, bail, throw, mix, preserve and store. And that is the simple reason why this everyday item so readily becomes the object of a cult.

The British ceramist Elizabeth Fritsch once claimed that good pottery is paradoxical. A good vessel has an aura that arise in the charged interface between the kitchen and the temple. The vessel is both earthly and heavenly, prosaic and poetic. The very essence of the ceramic art arises from this tension. If the vessel suits the hearth, it alo suits the altar. One need only think of the Japanese tea ceremony to realize how short is the distance between hearth and altar, earth and sky, body and mind.

A vessel is not just a vessel. It also is a metaphor. Indeed it is an Ur-metaphor ; it speaks of our place in the universe, of how we give and take, incorporate and repel. The vessel is part of the grand metabolism. This is why archaeologists generally find pots when they excavate ancient burial sites.

Text by Sara Danius and Patrik Johansson

Last Week News

May 15, 2008

Francis Bacon's Triptych 1975 Sells for Record 86.3 Million at Sotheby's in New York

Israel Museum Presents Great Isaiah Scroll For the First Time in Over Forty Years

Mapping Cartography in Contemporary Art at Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art

Turner Prize Candidate Mark Leckey Solo Exhibition at the Kolnischer Kunstverein

Transformations: The Lea/Lee an Exhibition at City Hall in London

Leo Kesting Gallery in Assocation with The Friends Of The Highline Presents: Julia Mandle

More Than Seventy Galleries Present at Art Moscow 2008 Starting Today

Past-Forward Curated by Vincent Honoré for the Zabludowicz Collection at 176

National Trust for Historic Preservation Announces Historic New Orleans Sites to Receive Grants

The Corrigan Gallery Presents "Celebration," With Works by Richard Hagerty

Daniel Richter has His First Retrospective in Spain

Duncan Regehr Exhibits Magic at Petley Jones Gallery

May 14, 2008

One of America's Greatest Artists, Pop Art Pioneer, Robert Rauschenberg Died in Florida at 82

Major Artists Reach New Heights with Eight World Auction Records Established

Fontana, Manzoni & Burri in the Milan Modern & Contemporary Art Sale at Sotheby's

Tate Gallery Announces Four Artists to Turner Prize Shortlist

Viennese Painter Maria Lassnig at Serpentine Gallery in London

Adam Cullen Let's Get Lost Set to Open at The Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Works of Aileen Campbell on View at The Institute of Contemporary Arts

La Casa Encendida Opens 34 Views Against Forgetfulness

Mattress Factory Exhibits Inner and Outer Space

The Story of The Supremes, Based on the Collection of Mary Wilson, at The Victoria and Albert Museum

Biennial of Contemporary Art at La Criée Centre for Contemporary Art

MoMA Presents Major Exhibition of the Films of Canadian Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin

Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics Opens at Gardiner Museum

HELLO! Magazine Celebrates its 20th Anniversary with Exhibit at Getty Images Gallery

Katrina Brown Appointed Director of the Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Arts

May 13, 2008

One of America's Greatest Artists, Pop Art Pioneer, Robert Rauschenberg Died in Florida at 82

Picasso Museum in Malaga Presents Restored Books Made by the Artist

Battlefields of the Civil War: Photography by William Earle Williams at Houston's MFA

Cleveland Museum Says Discussions are Continuing Between the Museum and the Italians

Asa Ames Exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum in New York

Architectural Projects by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa at The Canadian Centre for Architecture

Brit Art of the Sixties Set to Open at Mark Barrow Fine Art

Manfred Leve: Glances and Sights, Photography from Five Decades at Gallery Ficher Rohr

Halcyon Gallery to Hold First Gallery Exhibition of Bob Dylan Art

Chinese Imperial Jades in the Collections of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art Transforms Gallery into Hallucinatory Space

Spencer Tunick and Vienna's Kunsthalle Gather 1,840 People to Pose Nude at Stadium

Blake Fitch: Expectations of Adolescence at Light Work in Syracuse

The Shell Guides: Surrealism, Modernism, Tourism at the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture

Future Tense: Reshaping the Landscape Presents Work by Artists Who are Taking a Critical Look at the Environment

Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium Celebrate Architect Joze Plecnik

May 12, 2008

Palazzo Strozzi To Open "Painting Light: The hidden techniques of the Impressionists"

A Very Personal Picasso: The Lucia Bosé Collection to be Offered at Christie's London

Run Of Impressionist Landscapes Exhibition is Extended at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Grayson Perry Celebrates 'More Humane' British Society in New Works For Hayward Touring Show

World Record For Flemish Master Sebastaen Vrancx Set at Sotheby's Amsterdam

Notes on the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries: Paintings by Jeffrey Kronsnoble

Important European Furniture, Ceramics, and Carpets at Christie's New York

Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection To Open at BAM/PFA

Annual Irish Sale at Christie's London Realised GBP 2,591,588

The Cartier Award 2008: Winner Announced: Cuban Artist Wilfredo Prieto

Moscow Museum of Modern Art Presents Citizens! Please Mind Yourselves! Dmitry A. Prigov

Vija Celmins and Apichatpong Weerasethakul Win Carnegie Prize and Fine Prize

SPACE NOW Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition

Free Museum Admission for Bank of America Cardholders

Exhibitions at Two Jewish Museums Honored By The American Association of Museums

May 11, 2008

Hamburger Kunsthalle Presents American Painter Mark Rothko. The Retrospective

Helmut Newton Foundation Presents "Pigozzi and the Paparazzi"

Denver Art Museum Extends Hours for Inspiring Impressionism Exhibition

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Presents Facebook: Images of People in Photographs

ART HK 08: The Source of Investments to Hang in the Home

Major Exhibition of Antiquarian Maps at the Ukranian Museum

Aerial Portraits of the American West: Photographs by John Shelton

CCS Bard Presents Lisi Raskin's Mobile Observation (Transmitting and Receiving) Station

John Armleder and Olivier Mosset Featured at The Contemporary

"Women Helping Women: Stitch by Stitch" - Afghan Women's Collaboration

I Don't Speak Very Much - Kijune Park / Rui Matsunaga / Miho Sato

Photographers Wanted for EXPOSURE - A Competition Celebrating the Power of the Image

May 10, 2008

Paine Art Center Opens The Impressionist Figure Selections from the Albright-Knox

Artists in Depth: Works from the MCA Collection on View in Chicago

National Gallery of Ireland will present Impressionist Interiors

Smoke and Mirrors Presents 35 Works on Paper at The Seattle Art Museum

MFA Houston Exhibition to Feature Paintings from Egypt's Minister of Culture Farouk Hosny

Sothebys to Hold Inaugural Exhibition in Kiev and Preview in Moscow

Machines of Memory: Cameras from the Technology Collection at George Eastman House

International Fine Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory Opens in New York

Insult and Injury: Elaborations on Christ's Passion at Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The Language of the Nude: Four Centuries of Drawing the Human Body

Beggars To Exiles: Unseen Photographs Of The Rolling Stones, 1966-1971 at San Francisco Art Exchange

Proposed Sculpture by Turner Prize Winner Mark Wallinger Heads Angel of the South Shortlist

SFMOMA Appoints New Director of Development

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Related Stories

Important Judaica and Israeli & international art bring a combined $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York

Tunisia to auction ousted despot's treasures

Andy Warhol's Mao portraits excluded from the Beijing and Shanghai shows next year

China criticises French Qing dynasty seal auction

Christie's announces auction marking the first half century of the popular and luxurious interiors shop Guinevere

Nine new exhibits debut at San Diego International Airport

Rembrandt masterpiece "Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet" back on display at National Museum Cardiff

Amber: 40-million-year-old fossilised tree resin is Baltic gold

Egyptian artist Iman Issa wins the Ist FHN Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Award

The main chapel of the Basilica of Santa Croce open for visits after five year restoration

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful