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non functional teapots et al

updated tue 23 jun 09


Lili Krakowski on mon 22 jun 09

That is a magnificent quote, Snail: : The architect and
author Robert Venturi used the phrase (in
another context) "dancing on the monastery
wall", i.e. putting on the appearance of
audacious liberty without ever leaving the
protective confines of tradition.

All of us who have taught know the common student self-defense:
"Well, I did not mean for it to be functional", or "You want me
to be creative, no? Well this is my version of whatever"

I see on the web all the time allegedly functional pots that
cannot be used.
I have seen such pots till 1953 when Peter Voulkos had a tureen
or casserole
in a MOMA show. The thing was beautiful, and beautifully made.
But it weighed
25 lbs easily, was totally HUGE and one would need a large
commercial oven
for it, as well as a fork lift if one wanted to bring it to the
table, filled with boiling
hot Boeuf Bourguignon!

I think non functional pots based on functional ones are like
And should relate to the original subject in a creative
fashion--not simply
be an unrelated variant. A friend quote Marshall McLuhan as
having said: "Ah, man's reach should
exceed his grasp, or what is metaphor." Wonderful, clever,
eye-opening, fun.
It gave Browning a little twist, and ADDED to our perceptions.

BUT few non-functional teapots do that. Most are not even
metaphors. A teapot
that looks like a locomotive would
be a nice take-off on the story that Watt got the idea for his
perfection of the
steam engine watching his mother's boiling teakettle rattle its
lid. A teapot that
looks like helmet or a kitten... Where how does it make a
comment on the original.

And, parenthetically, I think a good many of these "teapots" are
tours de force that
show off--often magnificently--new media, mixed media--and the
genuine skill. They do not demonstrate the merit of the thing in

Lili Krakowski

Be of good courage