Breaking the Mold: Porcelain Works from Meissen
Nature Morte is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by the American sculptor Arlene Shechet.
As part of the Meissen Art Campus, an artist in residency program run by the Meissen porcelain manufacturer, the artist has produced a series of new works, exploring the forms, production methods and traditions of the 300 year old manufacturer.
Over a course of 6 months in Meissen the artist gained access to all areas of the porcelain factory, learning the techniques, working with original molds and learning about internal politics and traditions in the factory. The work she produced during this time celebrates and subverts the language and craftsmanship of the most famous porcelain manufacturer in the world.
Infiltrating every corner of the factory, Shechet was particularly fascinated by the overlooked and disregarded materials and objects she found and produced a series of works which she refers to as the “molds of molds”. Having discovered the often 300 year old original Meissen molds, she made casts to reproduce them in porcelain, then glazed and hand-painted them, thereby transforming these devices (that usually remain hidden) into objects of desire. Another series of sculptures explore the traditions of the figurine, which historically is the only in-house product termed art by Meissen. Shechet used sections of the classical figurines and combined them with elements of tableware, creating intentionally awkward and precariously elegant constellations, which adhere to a discourse of functionality and aesthetics. In a similar manner she played with the finish of her sculptures, leaving a lot of the porcelain unglazed and in its raw state after firing, at other times hand-painting and gilding parts which normally would be purely functional.
Continuing her interest in playing with forms of presentation and incorporating items that relate to the production of her works into their display, the artist will employ furniture and packing elements found at the Meissen factory itself as the foundation for the gallery's installation.
Trained as a sculptor, Arlene Shechet has a long history of working with glazed and fired ceramics, a central element in her practice being the production methods and transformations involved in the process of making. Simultaneously comical and sad, beautiful and ugly, her enigmatic, amorphous sculptures are aware of the history of classical ceramic art but break with its traditions by constantly reinventing form, the use of materials and modes of display.
Arlene Shechet has exhibited her work extensively in the United States and abroad including recent solo shows; “That Time” at the Anderson Gallery, VCU, Richmond, Virginia; “.SUM” at the Nerman Museum, Overland Park, Kansas; “Blow by Blow,” curated by Ian Berry, at the F.Y. Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York; “Here and There” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Colorado; “The Sound of It” at Jack Shainman Gallery, 2010; “Parallel Play” at Dieu Donne, 2012; and “The Thick of It” at James Kelly Contemporary, 2011. Recent group exhibitions include “Seriously Funny,” at the Scottsdale Museum of Art, Arizona, and “Dirt on Delight” at the ICA Philadelphia and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Shechet's work is included in both public and private collections worldwide including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the NermanMuseum of Contemporary Art and the American Embassy Beijing, China. She is the recipient of a 2004 John S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship Award as well as three separate New York Foundation for the Arts awards. In 2010 Arlene was awarded the Anonymous Was A Woman Artist Award and the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, and in 2011 she was honored with the American Arts and Letters Artist Award and Purchase Prize. She lives and works in New York.