Art pottery – the latest history.

As is known, the term “art  pottery” applied to Western culture is a designation for traditional ceramic forms, such as vases, bowls, dishes, design and decor of which distinguishes them from simple utilitarian products. In Japan and China, works of art ceramics are known since 1000 AD. Or earlier, but in Europe the practice of its mass production dates back only to the 16th century AD when a Frenchman named Bernard Palissy produced brightly painted high-relief glazed earthenware plates and jugs in a style that is known as majolica (from Italy. Majolica – the old name of the island Mallorca, through which were imported into Italy works of Spanish-Moorish ceramics).

For centuries, majolica was mainly produced on the continent. Glazed majolica was common in Spain and, especially, in Italy, where firms such as Ginori and Cantagalli became leading in its production. In Germany, famous for its majolica was the Royal Porcelain Manufactory, and only in the middle of the XIX century it began to produce the British. Majolica quickly gained popularity among ordinary people. The colors were bright, and the reliefs often represented animals and plants. Some potters produced kettles, for example, in the form of cauliflower. Became a classic Wedgwood, he liked to decorate the surface of standard shapes with patterns with weaving and relief foliage. Although, of course, the most famous were his products on classical Greek themes with white relief figures on a blue background.

Glazed pottery conquers America.

In America, the fascination with majolica has been strengthened since the 19th century. As in England, the potters covered their products with transparent glossy glazes. Some of the well-known manufacturers of Pennsylvania are Griffen, Smith & Hill, who sometimes labeled their products with the symbols “GSH” or referred to them as “Etruscan ceramics.” Other American companies famous for their majolica in the second half of the 19th century were Morrison & Carr, Chesapeake Pottery, And Edwin Bennett. They made dishes for dessert, plates for ice cream in the form of straw hats decorated with ribbons, and kebabs in the form of cabbage. One of the popular forms of majolica was a pitcher, which was sometimes projected from vertical slices of wide bamboo, with thin branches of the same bamboo used for the jug handle. Other jars resembled sheaves of ears, while the syrup vessels were often decorated with fat sunflowers or bunches of leaves and flowers. Plenty in the form of leaves were produced in abundance. The leaves of begonia, in this case, were especially popular. Also, boxes were made in the form of sardines, and cigarette cases topped with African American figures known as “black cupid.” Animals, especially bulldogs and pigs were considered ideal forms of boxes in which it was possible to store tobacco.

Modernism in majolica.

By the 1890s, majolica was enriched with art nouveau products. It turned out that clay is especially suitable for self-expression in the Art Nouveau style. Its malleable organic nature allowed artisans at the turn of the century to turn it into vibrant floral arrangements, lines of the female body and whimsically twisted vines. The introduction of new glazing technologies added bright colors, which also contributed to the expression of sensuality in the Art Nouveau style.

These new movements inspired porcelain and tableware manufacturers across Europe and the United States to open workshops for the production of ceramic products in which gifted artists and chemists were often given the opportunity to experiment, create pots by hand and test new glazing technologies.

Some studios have focused on the technique of glazing, seeking to achieve the ideal color, opacity and texture. In particular, the firing process often led to unpredictable results, such as uneven color, streaks or blisters – such “imperfections” gave the product a unique character. Often the pots made simple shapes, empty canvases, then to decorate with stucco flowers, textures and painted images. French masters in the Art Nouveau style have developed two-tone marble and crystalline effect glazes, as well as deep red and metallic glazes in rich blue, yellow, orange and purple tones.

Other ceramists invest their energy in creating unique shapes for their vessels, making almost airy vases inspired by Japanese ceramics. Three-dimensional relief effects were achieved by threading on moist clay, turning into flowering flowers, plant stems, animals or female figures. Handles were in the form of twisted vines, branches, leaves, or even seductively bending women. You could meet vases that have the shape of a bird or flower bud.

Finally, in ceramics in the Art Nouveau style, produced by large factories, in contrast to the products of individual artists, the surface decoration with experimental glazes predominated. These products were decorated with images inspired by Viennese separatists and Art Nouveau artists, as well as Japanese art, including flowering plants, exotic birds such as peacocks, and an extremely popular flower woman. In France, a factory was built to produce luxury ceramics in Sevres. Its forms were inspired by female figures, as well as Chinese architecture and ancient Turkish, Persian and Far Eastern motifs. Vases were usually painted in thin pastel colors. A distinctive feature of some Sevres art nouveau vases are the gilded bronze bows and lining that emphasize the design of the vessel.

In the Netherlands, the Rozenburg plant introduced great innovations in the design of molds. There in 1899 was presented a wonderful “porcelain egg shell”, in fact, extremely thin and light clay, reinforced with glaze from the inside and outside. This beautiful and delicate pottery presented intricate and beautiful images of flowers, insects and birds painted by S. Schellink and R. Sterken. An architect, potter and textile designer working there, Theodoor Colenbrander left Rozenburg to form his own Gouda Ceramic Factory. He found the Art Nouveau style particularly suited to his tastes, as he preferred bold colors and shapes inspired by Javanese products from the batik. Large German manufacturers, such as Meissen and Konigliche Prozellan Manufaktur, took advantage of the popularity of the Art Nouveau style and began applying decorative painting on their vases.

Goldscheider in Austria and Royal Dux in Czechoslovakia, specialized in sculptural figures. Some of the most popular ceramic products from Bohemian Art Nouveau were made by Reissner, Stellmacher & Kessel (R.S.K.). This ceramics is known for exotic and organic forms with carved or relief decorations from flowering and fruiting plants, painted with bright enamel. Handles represented bizarrely curved branches of plants. Painted ornaments, inspired by Art Nouveau, often represented the dreamy, pale face of a woman, surrounded by curls of long hair and a gilded halo. This style was so popular that R.S.K. Applied it to wall masks, sculptural figures and clay vessels decorated with cabochons.

Another innovative Czech company Zsolnay made breakthroughs in luster and iridescent glazes. The owner of Vilmos Zsolnay attracted the most talented foreign artisans and chemists who helped him to present a wide line of marble, iridescent and crystalline glazes. The most popular of these was the iridescent glaze, known as “eosin”.

In England, ceramist William Moorcroft widely used contour drawing techniques for his popular line of Florian ceramics in the Art Nouveau style, offering images inspired by Etruscan, classical Roman and Far Eastern ceramics, with a thin line of colored patterns.

Designer Christopher Dresser also used contour drawing for his work in the studio Minton Art Pottery. The largest factory for the production of glazed ceramics Doulton & Co. Opened a studio in south London in 1871 for the production of handmade art nouveau products. Due to its proximity to the art school of Lambeth and cooperation with it, a talented pool of artists and designers has formed in the studio. These artists could choose the shape and decor of the vases that they created. Their vessels were usually simple in form and decorated with drawings of flora or fauna.
In the United States, Rookwood, one of the largest ceramics producers in the country, did not adopt the philosophy of handmade art nouveau style, but sought to develop it in its own way. The company hired the best chemists and designers to develop innovative glaze recipe and new decorative techniques. The first breakthrough was made by the artist Laura Fry, who came up with a blurred background. Its most successful lines in the Art Nouveau style include floral “Iris Glaze” and works in the “Vellum Glaze” technique.

Louis Tiffany also created artistic ceramics, but unlike his glass and stained glass lamps, this is the only area in which he was not successful. He never covered his ceramics with beautiful images; He wanted her forms and glazes to speak for themselves, although in his later works there were also relief images, such as cattails, flower sockets or fish floating in a creek. Perhaps the most remarkable American potter of this period is George Ohr, Mississippi, an artist who created stunningly modern and brightly colored vessels with thin, like paper, walls that crumble, twist and pendant in stunning organic forms. George Ohr himself extracted clay, created his glazes and even built his own ceramic oven.

William Grueby also created his own American line of pottery in the Art Nouveau style. When he opened his company Grueby Faience Co. In Boston, his goal was to achieve “organic naturalism”. His firm created beautiful vegetative matt glazes, and its products looked as if they were made from wide live leaves and pumpkins.
Although the pots were usually green, Grueby also used its high-quality frosted glaze in different colors to make fine ceramic tiles.

In the twentieth century, artistic ceramics, especially in Europe, seem almost on the verge of insanity. Swedish pottery in the first half of the twentieth century has a strong influence of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, and Danish ceramics has acquired a modernist aesthetic even before its modern movement became stronger after World War II. The largest pottery factory in Sweden was Gustavsberg, whose leading designer at the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th was Josef Ekberg. Early vases of Ekberg were distinguished by floral and decorative ornaments in the Art Nouveau style using the sgrafitto technique. Later, products from the 1920s had fewer ornaments, but they were often covered with iridescent glazes.

Eksberg’s protector, Wilhelm Kage, is known for its high geometric spindle-shaped vases that sit on cropped bases resembling small inverted flower pots. Even more modernist were the works of Berndt Friberg and Stig Lindberg, but the most recognized designer of Gustavsberg was undoubtedly Lisa Larson, who from 1954 to 1980 created for the company statuettes of stylized domestic and wild animals. Today Larson and her assistants continue to work in her studio.

Another large Swedish producer of ceramics was Rorstrand, whose ceramics of the 1940s and 50s, created by Gunnar Nylund, evolved from objects inspired by art deco into biomorphic inclined bowls and bulbous vases, which Rorstrand is so famous for. Another Rorstrand designer in the middle of the century, Carl-Harry Stalhane, created more geometric shapes, producing vases in the 1950s, which retrospectively resemble NASA’s 1960s landing modules.

Traditions of art ceramics in Denmark are even more profound. Factories such as Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl used designers such as Axel Salto. His “Budding” and figures in the form of a pumpkin in the 1930s are perhaps the most famous. Nils Thorsson spent more than 60 years at Royal Copenhagen, creating the Marselis line for the company Aluminia.

One of the most sought-after brands of Danish art pottery is the vases and bowls produced in the period from 1930 to 1968 by Saxbo, which was founded by Nathalie Krebs. A former glaze chemist at Bing & Grondahl, Krebs created many of the elegant forms of Saxbo that ranged from bottle vases to star-shaped bowls.

In post-war West Germany in the 1960s and 1970s a style known as “fat lava” appeared. This style derives its name from the thick multicolor glazes typical of this pottery. Products look as if their surfaces consist of frozen lava flows in bright shades from fiery red to cobalt blue. While these glazes are known as glazed glazes, they have become “fat” as a result of the enthusiasm of the public especially thick and textured. In this technique, large floor vases, one-side jugs (some with ring handles) and sculptural compositions that combined smooth and textured surfaces were produced. Some products in the style of “fat lava” appear to be echoes of macrame aesthetics and hippie culture of the 1960s, while others look like a postmodern, almost pop-cultural trail.

During the preparation of the article, materials from were used.

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