Frick exhibit showcases contemporary ceramics inspired by lush art of 18th century
January 6, 2016 12:00 AM
"Forbidden Fruit Dinner Party" is among the works in the show at The Frick.
Chris Antemann in collaboration with Meissen Couture®
"A Taste of Paradise" is on display at The Frick.
ANTEMANN DREAMS Collection (Limited Edition)
"Fruit Pyramids," are among the works on display at The Frick.
By M. Thomas / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In this holiday season, a magical miniature world at The Frick Art Museum is both naughty and nice. Its denizens are fanciful and remote yet recognizable and contemporary. And the artworks are simply exquisite.
“Forbidden Fruit: Chris Antemann at Meissen” comprises porcelain sculpture made by the internationally known ceramist and Johnstown native while in residence at the Meissen ArtCampus in Germany.
If you go
“Forbidden Fruit: Chris Antemann at Meissen”
Where: The Frick Art Museum, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze.
When: Through Sunday.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today through Sunday.
Event: Winter Friday at the Frick, 6-9 p.m. Friday. Closing party for the exhibition featuring wine and champagne bar, meet the artist, gallery talks. The car and carriage museum and museum store will be open (free admission). Reserve for Clayton holiday tours or dinner at The Café.
Film: Noon Friday, “Valmont,” 1989, 137 minutes, rated R. Directed by Milos Forman and starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening and Meg Tilly, the lavishly produced drama offers a tantalizing take on taboos in 18th-century France. Anyone under 17 requires an accompanying parent or adult guardian. Parents are advised to learn more about the film before bringing young children (free).
Books: A gallery booklet with essays by Frick director of curatorial affairs Sarah Hall and associate curator Dawn Reid (free). A 92-page book published by Meissen documents the project and resultant artworks ($52; members $46.80). Both contain beautifully reproduced images.
Information: 412-371-0600 or www.TheFrickPittsburgh.org.
Scantily clad figures flirt and romp in gardens, on a settee and on table tops. That may raise eyebrows or provoke a smile dependent upon whether the works are viewed as over-the-top sensuality, or as wry commentary.
Ms. Antemann, who will attend a public reception Friday at the museum, was inspired by 18th-century figurines produced by porcelain manufacturers such as Meissen, which was founded in 1710 and is Europe’s oldest. She also references Rococo style and mores, particularly as represented by artists Jean Honoré Fragonard, Antoine Watteau and François Boucher — all known for their decorative, erotic depictions of amorous aristocrats.
One series exhibited, “The Pleasure Garden,” gives three-dimensional form to vignettes in Fragonard’s four large panel paintings, “Progress of Love.” Commissioned by Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, for the château de Louveciennes, they address infatuation from initial declaration to later reflection. The paintings were purchased by Henry Clay Frick and are part of The Frick Collection, once a family home and now a Manhattan museum.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mr. Frick collected Chinese and French porcelains, and a selection of porcelain and 18th-century French art from the permanent collection is displayed. This is also an opportunity to visit the museum’s 18th-century French salon period room, open for the first time since 2003.
Ms. Antemann, who lives in Oregon, earned an undergraduate degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s of fine arts from the University of Minnesota. She has worked in residence at the Meissen ArtCampus since 2011. She has also held residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Mont., and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wis. Her exhibition continues a commitment by The Frick Art & Historical Center to engage contemporary artists with its collections and history.
Porcelain first arrived in Europe from China in the 13th century and with more regularity in the 17th century. Meissen is given credit for the discovery of porcelain in Europe.
At Meissen, Ms. Antemann first models the figures and other components of her pieces. Glazing and other decorative applications follow. Molds are created from some of her models for limited editions produced with the assistance of a team of Meissen artisans.
The complexity, exactness and visual sensuousness of her works are what place them in the hallowed Meissen lineage. The “Forbidden Fruit Dinner Party,” for example, required 300 molds, the most in the manufacturer’s history; accents such as emerald eyes and cherry red lips are carefully painted and flawlessly fired.
The Rococo lushness engages the eye and may be a part of Ms. Antemann’s commentary on the distractions of pleasure that can override discretion, or on the ability of privilege to disregard it. Her female figures are coy, contemporized by the assertiveness of their gaze. The figures’ unblemished whiteness, their flowing golden locks, raise issues of class, ideals of beauty and race.
With “Forbidden Fruit,” the Frick reminds us that culture is constantly morphing even as some things stay the same, and of the relevance of considering our antecedents, whether object or habit.
M. Thomas: email@example.com or 412-263-1925.
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