The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, August 19, 2019

Wadsworth Atheneum announces the first American showing of installation by Bouke de Vries
Bouke de Vries, War and Pieces, 2012 (detail). 18th-, 19th-, and 20thcentury porcelain, plastic, sprayed plaster, acrylic, steel, aluminum, gilded brass, and mixed media. Courtesy the artist and Ferrin Contemporary. Photo Credit: Tim Higgins.

HARTFORD, CONN.- Bouke de Vries (b. 1960) is the featured artist in the 180th installment of the MATRIX contemporary art series at the Wadsworth Atheneum. This is the first American showing of War and Pieces, a twenty-six-foot installation inspired by the sophisticated figural centerpieces that decorated 18th century European banqueting tables. Such figures, first made of sugar and later made increasingly of porcelain, were displayed during the dessert course on special occasions and told stories or conveyed political messages. War and Pieces uses this mode of table culture to call attention to our current culture of waste and mass production. De Vries’ piece is also a commentary on the follies of war and its continuing impact on our lives. The exhibition is on view October 4, 2018–January 6, 2019.

War and Pieces, de Vries’ first large-scale installation, coopts the 18th and 19th century tradition of holding a grand banquet on the eve of battle. His modern centerpiece is arranged around a mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion whose force appears to have turned the entire table into a wasteland. Battles rage across the heap of porcelain shards, old and new, fought by myriad miniature figures with conventional arms. Jesus on the cross and the Chinese Buddhist goddess of compassion, Guanyin, watch over the death and destruction. Brightly-colored contemporary plastic toys—indestructible symbols of our own toxic times—contrast vividly with the pure white of the porcelain and sugar.

A conservator by trade, de Vries usually repairs porcelain. As an artist he inverts that role using old objects with newly broken inexpensive IKEA plates, mass-produced in China. In this way he casts light on the irony of how much the value of porcelain has changed since the 18th century and he shares that with the viewer by putting one of the fragments upside down to reveal the IKEA logo. Porcelain skulls and broken figures make up the mushroom cloud—de Vries sourced them from dealers and flea markets along with unfinished Hummel porcelain figures of children which were found at an old German factory site and sold on eBay. For de Vries, the mushroom cloud is the culmination of the centerpiece, an image that is both beautiful and horrible at the same time.

Six battles flank the centerpiece fought by myriad miniature figures. The larger ones are made of sugar-coated plaster, molded from eighteenth-century figures of Mars and Minerva from the Derby Porcelain Factory in England. The battling figures have mutated to become cyborgs with colorful, plastic “bionic” limbs and heads from broken Transformer toys. The striking diversity among the sugar, porcelain, and plastic underscores the tension between the handmade and the industrial.

“Featuring War and Pieces at the Wadsworth Atheneum makes perfect sense,” says Senior Curator and Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts Linda Roth. “We have an outstanding collection of the very kind of porcelain figures and centerpieces that Bouke de Vries references in this monumental work. And we are especially pleased to have War and Pieces coincide with our fall exhibition, Monsters and Myths, which like de Vries’ installation, is a creative reaction—a great work of art—born of bellicose times.”

War and Pieces has been shown at a number of stately properties in Europe and is making its American landfall at the Wadsworth. Here it is confronted by walls hung densely with mirrors and empty frames from the collection, set with Chinese plates and his gilded cutlery. Displaying porcelain in front of or on mirrors was common in the eighteenth century, when the only light in the evening was provided by candles. The reflective nature of the porcelain and mirror glass enhanced and enlivened the flickering candlelight to create a magical dining setting. But the porcelain creations on 18th century tables would have been either lighthearted fantasies or symbolic presentations imbued with political narratives.

Born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Bouke de Vries studied at the Design Academy, Eindhoven, and Central St Martin’s, London. After working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones and Zandra Rhodes, he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. De Vries has written about his work relating it to his practice as a private conservator where every day he was faced with issues and contradictions around perfection and worth. The Venus de Milo is venerated despite losing her arms, but when a Meissen muse loses a finger she is rendered virtually worthless; where even an almost invisible hairline crack, a tiny rim chip or a broken finger render a once-valuable object practically worthless, literally not worth the cost of restoring. Using his skills as a restorer, his artworks reclaim broken pots and ceramic sculptures; instead of reconstructing them, he deconstructs them, emphasizing their new status, installing new virtues, and moving their stories forward.

Today's News

October 10, 2018

Phoenix Art Museum presents never-before-seen artifacts from Teotihuacan

Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien opens 'Fascination Japan: Monet. Van Gogh. Klimt'

Stolen ancient artefact returns to Iran museum

Christie's to offer Vincent Van Gogh's Coin de jardin avec papillons

Pierre Théberge, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, dies

Six centuries of furniture & decorative arts offered at Sotheby's New York

V&A Museum of Childhood to be transformed into a world-leading museum of design and creativity

Flag Day highlights Bonhams American Art sale

The Queen's House, Greenwich unveils major art installation by Mat Collishaw

Rubin Museum gallery becomes a lake with Matti Braun's otherwordly installation "R.T./S.R./V.S."

450 robotic penguins perform choreographed dance in response to movements using computer vision technology

Christie's France announces highlights from its contemporary photography sale

Freeman's announces a single owner sale of Pennsylvania art, craft and design

New exhibition takes visitors on a journey of contemporary art and Tlingit culture

Van Doren Waxter opens exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Harvey Quaytman

Original comic art charity auction benefits the Ed Asner Family Center

Exhibition at Public Gallery features a new series of paintings by Felix Carr

A most "curious" sale at Rago Auctions this December

Dolby Chadwick Gallery opens exhibition of new works by Matt Gonzalez

Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo on view at the Hammer Museum

Joseph Antenucci Becherer appointed Director of Snite Museum of Art

Wadsworth Atheneum announces the first American showing of installation by Bouke de Vries

Frye Art Museum opens exhibition by poet and educator Quenton Baker

Trembling Thinking: Exhibition focuses on the ideas developed by Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Conservation reveals Wellington Collection work was painted by Titian's Workshop

2.- New dinosaur discovered after lying misidentified in university's vaults for over 30 years

3.- Unseen Texas Chainsaw Massacre outtakes and stills sold for a combined $26,880

4.- National gallery reveals conserved Italian altarpiece by Giovanni Martini da Udine

5.- London's Tate Modern evacuated after child falls, teen arrested

6.- Bavarian State Minister of the Arts restitutes nine works of art

7.- Boy thrown from London's Tate Modern is French tourist visiting UK

8.- Child thrown from London gallery has broken spine, legs and arm

9.- £10 million Turner masterpiece may leave British shores

10.- Tourists banned from sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps

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
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
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