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Biennale of Vallauris : the ceramic art knows “about its new golden age”

This is a material that is long forgotten which is, in a state of grace. Italian masters, whose prices soar at auction for works by ultra-contemporary, connected, light, rotated in 3D: the art of ceramics, celebrated by the international Biennial of Vallauris 2019, until 4 November, has never been so trendy.

“This is a new golden age,” says Christine Germain-Donnat, a member of the steering committee of the Biennale and director of the museum of Sèvres. “Over the past 10 years, the collectors buy a lot and the ceramic is a language used by artists who came from painting, photography, or performance,” observes Claudia Casali, director of the international ceramic Museum of Faenza in Italy, a place of reference in the world, and commissioner of the superb Italian programme of the 25th Biennial.

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After a pause of three years to regenerate, this great appointment of Vallauris, launched in 1968, but that “turned a bit in circles”, according to its commissioner general Sandra Benadretti, welcomes a selection of more than one hundred pieces, embodying the legacy of the great era and the avant-garde. In the section “Terra Italia”, the pioneers of informal art, Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) is famous for its incisions in the canvas, and Leoncillo (1915-1968), whose work has approached the million dollars at Christie’s in London at the end of 2018, alongside the new generation, Salvatore Arancio, and its totems, phallic, Sissi and white patterns, known to enthusiasts of contemporary art.

Creation with the help of the machine

The Biennale is investing four places of the city of the potters, including Picasso was renowned from 1948 to 1955, living in, working in Vallauris, organizing even bullfights. The workshop of Claude Aïello, among these ceramic artists who thrive on the tradition of Vallauris, do not visit. But four hopes of the Ecole nationale supérieure de création industrielle (ENSCI) have had the chance to have their project shot out of his hand. The parts are exposed to the Magnelli Museum, ceramics museum, on the floor above Picasso. The event puts the feet into the future with “Lightart” of Nicola Boccini and his porcelain interactive that transmit images and light. Immersed in the dark, the visitor, in fact, change the colors to the sound of his voice. At the espace Grandjean, in the former pottery factory, which has retained a wood-fired oven, vases, textured testify to the contribution of the 3D printer designed by the designer-researcher Dutch Olivier van Herpt, 30 years.

Their surface appears as a braided, inside as well as outside, a process impracticable in the hand, even with a mold. “This is the machine that works, but the computer file is thought of by the artist. The 3D belongs to the world of digital natives and the earth is a tool which he wanted to push the experiment”, underlines Nathalie Viot, director of the foundation Martell, patron of the Dutch.

This company of Cognac also funds a Prize for Young Creator award for the first time, in addition to the traditional Grand Prix of Vallauris. The winners are a duo from the Ecole supérieure d’art et design (Esad) of Reims, Baptist Sévin and Jaïna Ennequin, whose work borrows from Salvador Dali to the softening of the forms: the pure volumes, anthracite, have undergone a particular treatment to the velvet that makes you want to touch.

vintage Effect

Several factors combine to give the ceramics a new chandelier. There is a scarcity effect linked to the death of the ceramists of the most famous, Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) to François Raty (1928-1982), whose works were still in the 1980s, it buy in the store or at the museum. Another factor explaining this return to grace, a novelty of the shapes that relate to the sculpture, the closer the design, the associate in the video creation. “The earth could be seen as a step in an artistic process is considered, by itself, impresses as final material by its sensuality,” observes Christine Germain-Donnat. Nicolas Debussy, auctioneer at Cannes Auction, is also believed to be a carry-over effect.

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When it becomes impossible to offer a canvas of Dufy, Chagall, or Miro, you can be pleased with their ceramics, under-rated even if the prices go up: “The editions of Picasso, manufactured by Madoura studio in Vallauris, take the 10% to 15% per year, the market is international and it starts to 1.200 euros the ashtray”. The vintage effect plays finally, linked to the craze for the furniture of the 1950s to 1970s that incorporated ceramic parts, very simple decor in the home. Nicolas Debussy sees it coming under the hammer of the works that previously would have been discarded, as this monumental fountain by Jean Derval decorating an apartment are available for sale on the Croisette: “It’s so expensive to dismantle than it was 15 years ago, people would have simply broken”.

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