Roly Beevor on mon 7 jun 04
Tate Liverpool, UK has a major ceramics show on; A Secret History of Clay,
from Gaugin to Gormley. So probably not a great deal of functional pottery,
but what looks like a fairly comprehensive review of art ceramics
I'm hoping to see a biting critique from Janet Kaiser, are you up for this
There is a fairly (thought) provoking review in the Guardian
With Greetings from sunny Gateshead, no clay in the Baltic yet.
Kathy Forer on tue 8 jun 04
On Jun 7, 2004, at 9:11 AM, Roly Beevor wrote:
> Tate Liverpool, UK has a major ceramics show on; A Secret History of
> from Gaugin to Gormley. So probably not a great deal of functional
> but what looks like a fairly comprehensive review of art ceramics
What an interesting exhibition, thank you for posting it. And the link
to the Jonathan Jones Guardian article, where he talks about "two
recurring tropes in modernist work in clay: decoration and collapse.
The decorative tendency consists in adding an expressionist -- or
abstract, or whatever style you want -- design to an object whose form
is essentially unaltered: say, a vase with spirals instead of flowers.
Then there is the aesthetic of collapse, especially prevalent since the
second world war. The thesis here is that a modern pot is a melted pot,
a broken pot. So you get jagged, ragged, lumpen exercises in anti-form,
and frankly they are just that -- exercises."
...I remember walking into a clay studio for a four-week long project.
The voluptuous model was posed in a heap of flesh on the floor and I
despaired that I would have to work from that lump. Gratefully it was
less than a week before I drove everyone else away and had the model to
myself. During breaks she had been sitting on a stool, straight and
tall, hands on her knees, humming lightly to herself, wearing a blue
jean jumper skirt, her beautiful shorn head and lightly closed eyes
looking like dignity by the river itself. And so she posed like that
and I have a wonderful souvenir of the time.
The drive to turn the human form itself into something else has always
bothered me. Fine to make abstractions of human form, make a teardrop
or an obelisk or even a spaghetti pile or hollow triangle, but the
person herself is not abstract-able, a human is a whole with attendant
integrity of form. That's not to negate cubism or surrealism, classical
approaches to construction and embellishment, or any way at all that
has integrity of approach, but a lot of teaching of "modern" art has
really lost the sense of self and form in the search for the
abstraction. So many rubbery weak, undrawn forms, hollows. Oh, what do
Eduard Lanteri talked how there are volumes are best combined with
"rests," small stops between forms, short bridges. Robert Beverly Hale
said there are no hollow forms on the human body, save on the lip
between the nostrils and perhaps under the lower lip. One other? Sides
of the nape of the neck. The entire rest of the body is made of a
series of convex forms, not a concavity in sight. Nothing "wrong" per
se with concavities, but they're like angles in architecture,
exceedingly difficult to use without abuse.
One of pottery's nicest inherent aspects is its "will to form." Because
most pottery is hollow, it tends to be created as much from pressure
from the inside as from the outside -- tension and balance.
I disagree with Jones' application of the statement "There is no
history of ceramics, in the sense that there is a history of western
painting and sculpture -- no obvious movement forwards." to this
exhibit. Fired clay is a sculptural medium with its own history apart
from ceramics and progresses about as much as any other medium, not
that much, but discernible. Eighteenth century european terra-cottas
are different than pots. Clay modeling has its own story to tell.