BURNING HOT. Recent observations on ceramics in contemporary art

As attentive visitor of contemporary art exhibitions you might already have noticed it: pottery seems to be everywhere at the moment – as plate, delicate structure or lump, colourfully glazed, monochrome or raw, figurative, abstract or non-objective, in shows at galleries and museums ceramic is appearing in all kind of ways these days.

For a long time, ceramics as a medium used to belong to the arts and crafts rather than to the fine arts. Sure, Picasso’s delicate plates are famous and beloved, and artists like Thomas Schütte, Tony Cragg, Rosemarie Trockel, Miquel Barceló and especially Asian artists like Ai Weiwei or Leiko Ikemura have worked with pottery for years now, thus holding somewhat exceptional positions within the field of contemporary art. But just recently they got good company: the younger generation finally has discovered pottery too – the ceramic mania seems to spread out quickly. It’s always difficult, if not impossible, to explain a phenomenon like this – why is it that artists suddenly become aware of a certain medium or technique? (...)

image: Caroline Achaintre, Whalf, 2011 (ceramic, leather, installation view at Timothy Taylor, London), courtesy:  the artist

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