BONHAMS FIRST SALE OF INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS IN NEW YORK

Bonhams will hold their first dedicated International Contemporary Ceramics auction in New York, USA on Tuesday 5 June 2007. This groundbreaking and diverse sale will feature the most ambitious post-war Contemporary Ceramic Art representing several countries including Britain, America, Japan, France, Spain, Denmark, Mexico and Kenya.

Bonhams Director of Contemporary Ceramics, Ben William, comments, “The artists that I chose to include in this sale are those who pushed boundaries, those who challenged us to reject any preconceived ideas of what role a ‘potter’ has in society and more importantly, asserting their position in the art world. They are those who asked ‘why’ they should do something rather than ‘how’ and then realised this by demonstrating an incredible affinity with the medium in which they chose to work. This is a diverse sale, our most ambitious to date. I’ve been rigorous with my selections bringing only the best pieces that are available, and I think that the items on offer here do justice to the tremendous ambition and skill of these artists. The old ‘craft or art’ debate is now redundant – where do we go from here?”

Ceramicists work that will be represented in this sale include: Alison Britton (British, b.1948) – Britton is considered a leading figure of the ‘RCA’ group: women who emerged as major contributors to ceramic art in the 1970s. Her angular vessel forms are slab built, often with the gestural painted decoration applied to the slabs before construction, so that the surfaces appear more like a painted canvas than a glazed pot. A large abstracted Jug Form produced in 1996 of earthenware and blue and brown paint is estimated at $4,000-6,000.

Claude Champy French, b.1944 – France – His wood-fired works are highly organic, often to the point of being sculptural, although most are fully functional vessels of some form. He describes himself as “a potter, not a sculptor. I shape the clay around a hollow which is a totally different approach.” The dynamic asymmetry of his pots display a daring looseness that typifies the predominant French stylistic approach to ceramic art. A large stoneware ‘Box’ produced in black and blue glazes over a textured body in 1991 ($1,800-2,400).

Wouter Dam – The Netherlands (Dutch, b.1957) – Dam studied ceramics at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie under Jan van der Vaart from 1975-1980 and has been working from his studio in Amsterdam since 1982. Associated with the Dutch abstract geometric ceramic tradition, Dam’s abstract sculptures have evolved from asymmetric, thrown vessels that he subsequently cut and folded to reconstruct new, highly anthropomorphic forms. These soft monochrome forms have become increasingly convoluted through the complex interaction of surfaces that enclose a multiple of volumes. A yellow ‘Shape’ and a red and white ‘shape’ both produced in1998 which opens at each end will be sold for $1,200-1,800 each.

Gustavo Pérez – Mexican, b.1950 – Perez’s vessels have clear contours decorated with monochrome linear decoration. Rhythmic slits and cuts in the surface heighten the visual tension of a piece and infuse a mathematical rhythm that contrasts with the soft plastic forms. Works in the sale include a leaning Vase produced in 2000 with inlaid slashed designs ($1,800-2,500) and a stone vase produced in 2002 with a mottled brown glaze, two unglazed panels with incised and inlaid blue and brown dotted designs ($1,200-1,800).

Veronika Pöschl – Austrian, b.1950 – After early experiments with porcelain and glass, Pöschl concentrated on stoneware, a material she has continued to explore in her subsequent work. Her hand built and coiled bowl and vase forms show an interest in the volume a vessel encloses and its spatial effects, rather than the vessel itself. The characteristic undecorated surfaces often reveal the method by which a piece was constructed, textured with delicate fingerprints or the pattern created by the coils. A large open bowl, constructed from coiled ribbons of clay with a partially enclosing rim in 1990 is estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Gordon Baldwin – UK -British, b.1932 Baldwin’s work has developed in the opposite direction to many of his contemporaries, gradually moving away from purely sculptural abstract forms to an exploration of the vessel. In the sale is a tall earthenware Vessel produced in 1985 of white slip with blue dots.($6,000-9,000). A tall standing Form produced in 1993 with a painted black spiral and pale green and grey splashes is estimated at £3,000-4,000 and Vessel from the Edge of the Sea, made in 2001 – estimated at $4,000-6,000.

Barbara Nanning – Dutch b.1957 Born in The Hague, Netherlands, Nanning studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam from 1974 – 1979. Working in both ceramics and glass, her ceramic work is composed of successive series, each based on an individual theme, inspired by nature. Jer sculptures are composed of individual assembled pieces and she has developed a unique surface composed of paint pigment and sand, using a limited colour pallet of pure vivid colours. ‘Object’, a sculptural form from the Galazy series, 1990 represents Nannings work in this sale (£2,000-3,000).

Claudi Casanovas – Spanish, b.1956 – Casanovas’ works represent a continuous series of experiments with clay, incorporating organic materials as well as metals and metal oxides into the clay and sandblasting the fired surfaces to achieve highly textured and eroded surfaces. Casanovas began exhibiting his work in 1981 and since the late 1980s has exhibited extensively worldwide. Representing Casanovas is a ‘Split Plate produced in 1986. Made from stoneware and melted granite, the body beneath is laminated in multi-colours ($8,000-12,000).

Kamoda Shoji – Japanese, 1933-1983 Despite his short career Kamoda is viewed as having had the most original and varied repertoire of any modern Japanese potter. With no background in ceramics, Kamoda joined the crafts department of Kyoto Arts University in 1952 where Tomimoto Kenkichi was head of ceramics. On graguating in 1956, he spent a few years working at commercial kilns before establishing himself as an independent potter in 1959. Although committed to making functional ceramics, Kamoda was continually innovating and would change artistic style every few years. Among the lots in this sale is a stone war jar produced in 1972 ($60,000-80,000), a stoneware cyclindrical form painted with a blue and black repeat pattern, a olive green stone ware dish ($5,000-7,000) and a black stoneware dish made in 1977 ($7,000-9,000).

Betty Woodman – American, b.1930 Woodman studied ceramics at the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University from 1948-1950. Working in earthenware since the early 1970, Woodman exploits the soft and malleable properties of the material to produce general sculptural vessels, with clear, bright, flowing colours that reflect her painterly approach. Her forms are influenced by her interest in historic ceramics tradition, with references to Chinese Tang wares, Mediterranean earthenwares and European country pottery. Her acclaimed ‘Pillow Pitcher’ series, a form first produced in 1975 and based loosely on Cretan pitchers, attests to her considerable throwing skills. Representing Woodman is a large ‘Pillow’ Pitcher, made in 1984 of earthenware. Constructed from several individually thrown elements, the jusg is designed with multi-coloured painted designs beneath a transparent glaze and estimated at $25,000-35,000.

Magdalene Odundo – Kenyan/British, b.1950 Born in Kenya, Odundo moved to England in 1971. Odundo returned to Africa in 1974-75, visiting Nigeria and then Kenya, to study the traditions of hand-building and firing employed by the women potters of the regions. She later travelled to New Mexico to observe the traditions of Pueblo pottery. Odundo’s work has a strong association with the forms and processes of African pottery, employing the traditions of hand building and burnishing. In the sale is an ‘Untitled’, large Vase produced in 1992 – estimated at $20,000-25,000.

Stockmans Piet – Belgium, b.1940 Working as both an industrial designer and ceramicist, Stockmans, born in Belgium began his career as a designer for the Dutch porcelain factory Royal Mosa from 1966-89, where he created the ‘Sonja’ coffee cup – the greatest selling cup design in the world. Since then he has worked as a freelance designer an dhas held various positions teaching industrial design. In 1995, Stockmans was appointed as Cultural Ambassador of Flanders and in 1998 was awarded the prestigious Henri van der Velde prize for outstanding career achievement. Stockmas’ work has been extensively exhibited worldwide and is represented in numerous collections.

Dame Lucie Rie – British1902-1995 – Lucie Rie was one of the most important potters of the post-war period and her work has had an enormous impact. It offered a European Modernist alternative to Bernard Leach’s Japanese inspired aesthetic. Rather than the ‘country’ tradition that had previously dominated studio ceramics, Rie represented an Urban aesthetic with modernist concerns that was highly individual. Works in the sale include a tall ‘Swan-Neck’ Vase, circa 1976. Produced in stoneware, the vase is white with a soft brown speckle ($30,000-40,000). A large stoneware conical Bowl, circa 1980 heavily pitted in blue and white glazes with a cream band is estimated at $20,000-30,000, while an oval Bowl, circa 1954, incised with a grid design beneath an all-over green tin glaze with a brown speckle is estimated at $12,000-18,000.

Hans Coper British1920-1980 – also one of the most important post-war potter, Hans pioneered the concept of ‘hand-built’ ceramics with his wheel-thrown and reconstructed sculptural works. His influence as a teacher was immense and he is credited as being the primary influence to a whole generation of potters who emerged from the Royal College of Art, London in the 1970s. In this sale is two of Coper’s largest works. Produced in 1972 as a large Cup on Stand with central disc, Coper developed and continually refined this work from the early 1960’s ($24,000-36,000).

This work was one of the last pieces of its type to have been made. The second large work is ‘Spade’ Forms that Coper produced in 1967 – estimated at $50,000-70,000. A pot on cylindrical foot, circa 1974 with a cylindrical flower-holder insider the pot is estimated at $16,000-24,000. A ‘Cycladic’ Form, produced in 1974 with a textured body and multi-coloured blisters was acquired by the current vendor direct from Hans Coper at his studio in Frome in the same year. The work is estimated at $28,000-35,000.

Also in the sale is Viola Frey, Suzuki Osamu, Akiyama Yo, Fukami Sueharu, Wada Morihiro, Richard DeVore, Akiyamam Yo, Gitte Jungersen, Ewen Henderson, Grayson Perry, Irene Vonck, Nicholas Vergette, Peter Voulkos, Viola Frey, Betty Woodman, Magdalene Odundo, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, James Tower, Elizabeth Fritsch, Gordon Baldwin, Richard Slee, Alison Britton, Ewen Henderson, Babs Haenen, Irene Vonck, Wouter Dam, Claudi Casanovas, Gustavo Perez, Jean-Francois Fouilhoux, Jennifer Lee, Alev Siesbye, Suzuki Osamu, Takiguchi Kazuo, Kamoda Shoji, Tsujimura Shiro and Yagi Kazuo amongst others.

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