Tradition Transformed: Danish Ceramics in the Twentieth Century

October 23, 2011 - January 08, 2012

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Beginning on October 23, 2011, the Museum will highlight a recent exceptional gift of more than forty pieces of 20th-century Danish pottery. The collection, given to the BMA by William Hull and Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Baekeland, reflects Denmark’s distinctly artistic pottery tradition, but one that is relatively new, dating only to the 1880s, when a small group of Danish artists began to take an interest in ceramics as a medium for expression. Known as studio potters, these artists worked alone or in small groups and performed each stage of the ceramic process themselves – preparing the clay, mixing glazes, throwing, trimming, glazing, and firing – all tasks that might be performed by different people or machines in an industrial setting. As the 20th century progressed, these potters produced vessels that were diverse and individual but always distinctly Danish.

Tradition Transformed addresses the evolution of the Danish pottery tradition through an exploration of Modernist pieces produced for Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl, works from Copenhagen’s great studio workshop Saxbo, teapots and tea bowls reflecting the profound influence of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean ceramics on the studio potters of Denmark, and creative yet traditional vessel forms of the Postmodern age. The wide range of Danish studio potters represented in Tradition Transformed include early-to-mid-20th century artists as well as contemporary potters.