Ceramics | The Handmade Tale

Yoshitomo Nara,
Untitled, 2007
Glazed ceramic.
Estimate £60,000
> £80,000



Shape & Space:
New Ceramic Presence
Phillips
London | UK
Sale 5 October | 2018
Ticket-only admission.
Exhibition 28 September >
5 October 2018



Lucie Rie,
Footed bowl, 1985
Stoneware, matt
blue glaze with
golden manganese lip.
Estimate £40,000
> £60,000



Kathy Butterly,
Overgrown, 2001
Glazed earthenware,
glazed porcelain,
Estimate £12,000
> £16,000



When artist Clare Twomey’s interactive installation, Factory: the seen and the unseen, comprising a 30-metre workspace, with eight tonnes of clay, a vast area of drying racks, and over 2,000 fired clay objects, opened this time last year at Tate Modern it was seen as a sign of the times.

The carefully-curated items in Phillips’ forthcoming sale encapsulate the story of contemporary ceramics up to the present, when the medium has finally cast off its poor-relation-of-fine-art status, and is recognised as a major art form.

Many contemporary potters have chosen to preserve the customary feel and look of the 20,000-year-old craft. The influence of Picasso’s early, decorated, utilitarian pieces – he produced 633 different ceramic editions between 1947 and 1971– is apparent in Yoshitomo Nara’s 2007, Untitled plate (top), which also evokes traditional Japanese pottery. Others opted for experimental approaches and unconventional aesthetics. Phillips’ lots include Kathy Butterly’s quirky, anthropomorphic Overgrown (above), from 2001. Butterly took her cues from the revolutionary California Clay Movement’s Ken Price, whose elemental 1983 piece, Edo, also in this sale, fuses painted ceramic, maple, painted wood, and glass, but went further.

Ai Weiwei
He Xie, 2010
(Detail and
complete work).
Porcelain, in
approximately
2,300 parts.
Estimate £400,000
> £600,000



While each finely-crafted, porcelain crab in Ai Weiwei’s He Xie (Chinese for crab but also meaning ‘harmonious’), above, emotes the intimacy and human scale of the handmade, the complete piece, suggesting mass food production, mass population, and mass politics, has a more sinister undercurrent. Twomey’s Factory installation, in which the public could mould or cast jugs, teapots and flowers was inclusive and democratic, and, although it hasn’t worked out that way, Picasso’s idea was to make his work accessible and affordable.

Roy Lichtenstein
Ceramic Sculpture
#10
, 1965
Painted and
glazed ceramic.
Estimate £250,000
> £350,000



This tightly-edited auction includes an exclusive group of 31 items by 24 artists, among them, Lucio Fontana, Lucie Rie, Sarah Lucas, Hans Coper and Ron Nagle. The viewing exhibition for Shape & Space: New Ceramic Presence at Phillips is open to the public. The auction, in which lot estimates vary between £7,000 to £600,000, is a ticket-only event.

All images courtesy Phillips


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