Cheers and Jeers


I'm conflicted folks.

There was this post over at the NY Times, in the dining section no less (which I appreciate). Talking about a show of dinnerware called Eat Drink Art Design at the Museum of Art and Design.So great, recognition in The Times for ceramics. Awesome. I have a NY Times alert for Ceramics and let me tell you that it barely ever presents something new.

So it looks like a nice show, and there appears to be some nice work. My itchy grumpy finger goes off on two points, One, the names used to sell the show? Roy Lichtenstein, Keith HaringJames Rosenquist, and  Sol Lewitt. All fine artists, no doubt. And I know that famous names get butts in museums.  Still a rub.

What really gets me is that the "traditional" ceramics people, Karen Karnes, Warren Mackenzie, Paul Mathieu, Beatrice Wood or Toshiko Takaezu.   The work from those artist are from 1970, 1992, 1988, 1950-60, and 1947.  Now, I'm not trying to deny these artist their due; but really, really???  The most current piece of craft is 18 years old. That teapot can vote.  For Christ's sake, there is some nice, younger works, that fall more into the design/art realm in the show.  So we know that the curators are looking around. 

 So what is the problem? Where is the respect and the representation? There are awesome pots out there that garner that kind of respect. 

I have to ask. 
Is it our fault? 


Kelly Kessler said...

OK, I laughed out loud at the voting teapot (and re-blogged it) but you are exactly right. Leaving out more current work is a shame.

Mackenzie, Takaezu, Karnes et al deserve their laurels. But something new is happening, something worth presenting and promoting.

Studio pottery launched in the 20th century beholden to a retro British/Japanese aesthetic, and I believe it has taken this long for potters to absorb that aesthetic and move on to an approach that looks forward rather than back. (I say this as someone who adores historical work - don't get me wrong.)

A real missed opportunity by this museum.

Matthew Katz said...

Thanks Kelly!

Anonymous said...

Oh Museum of Art and Design! Nobody knows how to suck the fun out of an otherwise awesome show. The radical lace show was filled with "design-y" artists who made totally soulless work that looked like "art" when put on a museum wall. The "Second Lives" show paled in comparison to "Manufractured" that was going on at the same time at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland.

I was really glad to see that the shows over the summer were great...the Viola Frey retrospective was a little small and cramped, but awesome nonetheless. The "Slashed" papercutting show was totally fabulous, but it was marred by "marquee" artists like Kara Walker, who were showing some of their least ambitious/successful work. It felt like the museum was just glad to have them for a name.

I'm really bummed to see that the museum is backsliding into art apologist mode.... there's so much interesting stuff in the craft world that we could show instead. As long as the people at MOAD keep feeling like the poor cousin of the MoMA, they'll never get anywhere. Throw off those shackles!

Matthew Katz said...

<3 you Garth

annbolina said...

Hi, I have been following your blog on and off for a while now, you gather interesting stuff from all over. Where do you do your research...maybe I should stop being lazy and check out your profile.....

Jesse Lu said...

Oh boy oh boy... First, thanks Kelly for sending me here tonight... Now to address the issue at question. It is my firm belief that 'art people' don't give a rat's ass about ceramics and I think that it's as much 'art people' being lazy when it comes to researching contemporary work as it is us, 'ceramic people', creating and maintaining such an insular ceramic world. Ceramics attracts a certain kind of artist- namely the kind who has the passion and steadfastness to devote to such a time-consuming medium. In laymen's terms- we make our art for ourselves. We give each other the most credit where due when it comes to our concepts, skill, design, and innovation. And we tend to treat the non-ceramic world as less valuable critics because they aren't intimate with the process. I think we need to stop doing this. We need to open our doors, show people what we're making, and value the opinion of 'outsiders'. We need to accept that not everyone is going to appreciate the complexities of our process, especially if we don't show folks outside the ceramic studio how interesting and exciting our process is. We need to start speaking the language of the greater art world. I'm curious how often ceramic artists submit their work for non-ceramic shows and exhibitions. If we aren't introducing ourselves to people, how can we be expected to be invited to anything other than our own parties? Okay... that being said, it's a shame that the only really contemporary piece in the show was a Chris Antemann piece, though it is encouraging that they managed to include such an it girl. But where was Ron Nagle, Jason Walker, Lorna Meaden, Deb Schwartzkopf, Molly Hatch, Christa Assad, Marc Digeros, Kurt Weiser? Huh? Where are they?

Okay, I said my piece. Great conversation, Matt, as usual.

Jesse Lu said...

Ok... so yesterday I wrote a longe response to this post but I deleted it by accident. So now I'm contributing the abridged version of yesterday's response.

Does it suck that the show failed to include contemporary masters like Jason Walker, Christa Assad, Ron Nagle, Deb Schwartzkopf, Kurt Weiser, and Katy Rush? Yes totally.

Why does the larger contemporary art world fail, every time, to include current ceramic superstars? For one because they are lazy and two, because we maintain such a damn insular community.

It's great and all that we have this awesome dialogue going on within the bounds of the ceramic art world about how awesome we are, but if we aren't going to even attempt to invite others in or introduce ourselves to outsiders then we need to shut the heck up about not being invited to the larger fine art world parties.

Come on folks, how often to we devalue an outsiders opinion b/c they don't 'know' the process? How often to we enter general art shows or exhibitions versus 'ceramic' shows and exhibitions?

We aren't part of the larger art world because we're afraid to leave the island.