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Contemporary Ceramics is a response by ceramic artists to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Josiah Wedgwood. Portraying a modern interpretation of the influence that Wedgwood has on their art, various artists reflect on the many facets this famous artist. Wedgwood is credited with the perfection of glazes, coloring clay bodies, developing the pyrometer, the mass production of ceramics and the industrialization of ceramics.
Josiah Wedgwood was born in England, into the fourth of nine generations of potters. Serving as an apprentice for another potter, Wedgwood was able to experiment with methods of glazing, surface preparations and image transfers, and he used the study of Greek and Roman classical forms to create many one-of-a-kind neo-classic forms. In 1759, Wedgwood founded his business, obtaining commissions for prominent heads of state. His work became known for its attention to detail and the great beauty of both the object and the clay itself.
In Contemporary Ceramics, the art shown reflects the various bodies of work that Wedgwood created, such as Jasperware, Lusterware, dinner sets, busts, medallions, and figurines. At a young age, Wedgwood was unable to use the potters kick wheel because of illness. He became a decorator, and he created beautiful shades of clay, unique glazes, and a following for the best pottery in Europe. He formed clay into shapes of bottles, which reflected Roman and Greek urns and bottles, with white cameos depicting a story affixed around the vessel; this type of form became known as the Portland Vase. He also used the cameos to promote the abolition of the slave trade. He was commissioned to create complete serving sets for Queen Charlotte of Great Britain and Empress Catherine of Russia. Called the “Queen’s Ware,” this work was known for its beauty and fine artistry. On a final note, Wedgwood developed the pyrometer, and where would we be without that key element in our practice today?
The artists in Contemporary Ceramics reference Wedgwood in various forms, in his relationship to kilns, to the various dinner services, as well as the beautiful blue Jasperware with the cameo embellishments. Some artists looked to Wedgwood’s name in literal creation, while others looked to his art to reference their own as experimentation. This is a good DVD to look at to get ideas and to begin an inquiry into Josiah Wedgwood.
Title: Contemporary Ceramics
Length: 25 minutes
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