Phillips announces 'Arts du Feu: Works from the Collection of Jason Jacques'


December 9, 2020

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced a remarkable selection of nearly thirty exceptional Art Nouveau ceramics from the collection of renowned New York City gallerist Jason Jacques. Arts du Feu: Works from the Collection of Jason Jacques showcases superlative examples of fin-de-siècle French ceramics, when undulating vegetal and natural forms along with pioneering new techniques in stoneware and earthenware created a new class of artistic ceramics. Arts du Feu features a remarkable seventeen works by the ceramist Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat, alongside rare works by Ernest Chaplet, Edmond Lachenal, Ernest Bussière, Henri de Vallombreuse, and Taxile Doat. Also included are three works by American turn-of-the-century master ceramist George Ohr, all previously from the collection of Robert A. Ellison, Jr., in their first time being offered at auction. Arts du Feu will highlight Phillips Design Auction in New York on 9 December, following an exhibition in Southampton.

Meaghan Roddy, Senior International Design Specialist, said, “We’re witnessing a growing number of our collectors at auction seeking out pieces from this period, recognizing the incredibly inventive spirit of the work and its relationship to contemporary art and design. We’re delighted to have been chosen by Jason to represent his collection in the context of a Phillips auction, where our buyers are ever exploring the canon of fine art, design and craft and where those disciplines intersect so perfectly in ceramics.”

Collector and gallerist Jason Jacques states, “This group of ceramics represents the best of the best from the period, easily as good as what is in any museum, but also the top tier of my 30 years as a collector, scholar and builder of collections for others. Be mindful when bidding as starting collecting in this area is like opening Pandora’s box, so completely addicting and endlessly satisfying.”

Marking a sea change in artistic expression and design, the Art Nouveau period at the fin-de-siècle (roughly 1880s – WWI) coupled increasing industrial materials and savoir faire with a return to a mystical and earthy aesthetic, transforming steel supporting beams into wispy tendrils and architectural forms into undulating underwater fantasies. Rejecting the historicizing styles of the Victorian era, this “new art” swept across all artistic and design mediums including architecture, graphic design and interior design. The artistry and craftsmanship of the new style pioneered new forms and techniques for creating a new modern and artistic aesthetic. In ceramics, a reverence for Japanese forms and new innovative glazing techniques spurred a new movement or renaissance in French ceramics known as “art pottery.”

The collection of Jason Jacques is a remarkable grouping of some of the most renowned art nouveau ceramists from the pinnacle of their creative output and the apex of technical and artistic innovation.

Known for his pioneering oxblood glazes and vegetal and marine life forms, Dalpayrat was relatively unknown until the age of 45. The 17 Dalpayrat works highlighting Arts de Feu hail from the period where he devoted his work to “artistic ceramics” near the turn of the century. He worked exclusively in stoneware after his successful debut of dappled oxblood or “Dalpayrat Red” glaze in 1892. The signature glaze is dappled or veined with greens, blues and yellows, and appears on pieces in the form of gourds, fruits, and shapes derived from Japanese bottles. This collection of Dalpayrat works coincides with a major new monograph on his work published by Phaidon in December 2020, co-authored by architect and avid collector Peter Marino.

A contemporary critic of Ernest Chaplet perfectly described his work, saying, “[he] seems to have gained absolute control over his capricious materials, so that, apparently at will, he can, on a single piece, obtain the most unexpected and diverse effects of color.” The present works by Chaplet—with their complex, almost psychedelic, glazes—are aesthetically captivating and illustrate the technical prowess that his critic described. His forms often took inspiration from earlier Chinese ceramics, and they required an acute understanding of his materials. The pair of vases in particular would have presented numerous challenges during the firing process due to their monumental size.

The only American ceramist represented in the present collection, George Ohr holds his own. He has become celebrated as a singular genius, whose facility and daring led him to anticipate by decades the expressive breakthroughs made by such figures as Peter Voulkos and Ken Price. When the Museum of Modern Art reopened to much fanfare a year ago, they placed Ohr’s ceramics right in the first gallery; their undulating forms seemed to dance responsively to those in Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. The three present works represent different aspects within his vast body of work that helped to canonize Ohr as one of the most groundbreaking potters from the turn of the century. Ohr often created untraditional forms that twisted and contorted in unexpected ways. He also experimented greatly with glazing techniques, such as his blistering effect in which he purposefully burst glaze bubbles to produce a scaley and delicate surface texture. These three works, with their vibrant and expressive glazes, give a glimpse into the ways in which Ohr broke all precedent for how a ceramic vase should look in terms of their form, glazes, and decoration.

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