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Sculptures by Chris Antemann explore lust and sexuality in ceramic vignettes inspired by the 18th-century
Chris Antemann in collaboration with MEISSEN®, Ambrosia (detail), 2014. Courtesy of MEISSEN®.


NEW YORK, NY.- From September 22, 2016, to February 5, 2017, the Museum of Arts and Design presents Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit, an installation of 21 porcelain sculptures resulting from the collaboration between Oregon-based artist Chris Antemann and the renowned MEISSEN Porcelain Manufactory in Germany. Invited in 2011 to participate in MEISSEN’s art studio program, Antemann worked closely with the manufactory’s master artisans to create unique pieces and a series of limited editions that reinvent and reinvigorate the legendary figurative tradition.

Inspired by eighteenth-century porcelain figurines and decorative art, and using the Garden of Eden as her metaphor, Antemann has created a contemporary interpretation of the eighteenth-century banqueting craze, posing scantily clad male and female figures in intimate and playful vignettes of seduction. Antemann’s work makes formal references to classic baroque MEISSEN figurines to convey narratives of domesticity, social etiquette, and taboos while reflecting on contemporary morality in a setting that evokes the decadence of François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau.

In the exhibition at MAD, Antemann’s delicate and intricately detailed sculptures are lavishly presented on a central banquet table alongside a selection of stand-alone sculptures and the nine-light porcelain Lemon Chandelier, evoking the tradition of palatial porcelain rooms. Her centerpiece, Love Temple (2013), is inspired by MEISSEN’s great historical model of Johann Joachim Kändler’s monumental Love Temple (1750) but strips the original design back to its basic forms. Antemann also adds her own figures, ornamentation, and flowers to the five-foot work, as well as a special finial with three musicians to herald the arrival of guests to the banquet of “forbidden fruit” below.

The exhibition features Lust & Gluttony, Antemann’s first dinner piece and a part of MAD’s permanent collection, a work that showcases the artist’s unwaveringly high level of detail and her commitment to parodying gender dichotomies. MAD’s acquisition of the work, said Antemann, “launched my career and began the trajectory which led to the invitation from MEISSEN.” Lust & Gluttony differs in its three-part construction from its Forbidden Fruit Dinner Party counterpart, which Antemann built in a single piece with the help of her MEISSEN colleagues and their collective knowledge accumulated over 300 years working with porcelain.

“Throughout her career, Antemann has manipulated the purely white and technically challenging material of porcelain to create contemporary interpretations of the pursuits of eighteenth-century elites, such as fine dining and escapades in pleasure gardens,” noted Shannon R. Stratton, MAD’S William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. “Her work also references porcelain’s own place as a commodity. The preciousness of the material and the femininity of the modeling and decoration in the sculptures are juxtaposed with unabashed eroticism and luxury to create an unexpected satire of human vice in the past and present.”

Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit is part of MAD Transformations, a series of six exhibitions presented this fall that address artists who have transformed and continue to transform our perceptions of traditional craft mediums. Building upon the exhibition Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, which celebrates the work of an artist known for drastically changing the way clay is categorized as an art material and as a discipline, the MAD Transformations exhibitions consider fiber, clay, and jewelry and metals—disciplines (along with glass and wood) that form the bedrock of the Museum of Arts and Design’s founding mission and collection, and that continue to morph in the hands of contemporary artists today.






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