Jason Jacques with pictured with Gareth Mason’s 2019-2020 sculpture, “Sheela-Na-Gig.”
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Jacques. He and his team share their story with us below:
Jason Jacques Gallery is an American contemporary art and design gallery that specializes in works in clay. Over its thirty years history, the gallery has both made its mark building museum collections of late 19th century European Art Pottery and become renowned for exhibiting some of the most exciting and influential international contemporary ceramic artists. Jason began his career in Europe three decades ago, combing through flea markets and antique shops for star pieces to send back to American dealers. He returned with a specialty in what he calls the Art Pottery Renaissance of the late-19th century— works by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Ernest Chaplet, Clément Massier, Georges Hoentschel, and the like.
After an explosive work by Gareth Mason caught his eye in 2010, he launched a program in contemporary ceramics, the prime focus of the gallery today. By placing Kim Simonsson’s vivid, mossy figures, Katsuyo Aoki’s porcelain masterworks, and Beth Cavener’s animalistic sculptures alongside the Japonist creations of Paul Jeanneney or the biomorphic inventions of Beate Kuhn, the gallery lends historical context to the contemporary talent on their roster.
Jason and his team now not only maintain a rigorous contemporary program but work to foster new talent. The gallery’s mission is bolstered by careful attention to the history of ceramics and commitment to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the medium’s rich past.
Jason Jacques Gallery participates in an international array of art fairs in Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, Maastricht, and Basel. In January 2021, after 16 years on Madison Avenue, Jason Jacques Gallery closed their space Upper East Side space, located in an 1871 Neo-Grec townhouse. They are in the process of relocating to the Hudson Valley.
Works sold by the gallery have been acquired by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Saint Louis Art Museum, Mint Museum, Toledo Museum of Art, Wadsworth Atheneum, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Wrocester Art Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, RISD Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Design, among other institutions.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
One of our greatest challenged has been involves effecting a change in people’s perceptions of “clay” — both as a medium for art-making, as well as a material for craft and design.
It’s not just a functional material. Pottery isn’t just a flea-market craft. Vases and ceramic vessels aren’t just about floral arrangements. Clay can carry a real transformative power. Clay, as a material, is deeply entwined with the past ten to twenty thousand years of human history. It’s played an irreplaceable role in art, design, and craft. We have a very unique relationship to it, though it’s essentially mud, and almost no material or visual cultures on earth would be where it is without clay.
When we began showing clay works of art and design at fairs worldwide, we were the sole people representing artwork made from clay. Now that it’s become ubiquitous, and feels almost as if contemporary art and design are experiencing a small sort of ceramic revival. Our mission, now, is to ensure that as the medium flourishes in the present, it remains in dialogue with its rich history.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
We are overjoyed to see the medium we championed for so long come to play such an important role in contemporary art. We’re also proud of the community of artists, curators, collectors, and lovers of clay the gallery has helped to foster, as well as our ability to draw strong links between the medium’s past and present.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
Trust your gut.