Emiko Oki’s white tableware, on view in Object Factory, stacks up to form a trophy.
OBJECT FACTORY: THE ART OF INDUSTRIAL CERAMICS at the Gardiner Museum (111 Queen’s Park), to September 7. $12, stu/srs $8, free Fridays 4-9 pm. 416-586-8080. Rating: NNN
A confession: I'm a plate-aholic, or, as described by one design magazine, a plate queen. So of course I got a charge out of Object Factory, a show of modern mass-produced ceramics and art pieces that comment on the industrial tradition, most of them appetizingly displayed on table-height platforms without glass cases.
Some art world big names are here: a Limoges service of Cindy Sherman as Mme. Pompadour, a stack of mugs printed with Andy Warhol's Empire State Building. But pieces by designers who work in ceramics offer the most interesting statements on form, function and ornament.
Some are elegantly useful - like Figgio rectangular plates, familiar to diners at upscale restaurants, or Emiko Oki's white dinner service that cleverly stacks into the form of a trophy cup. Some artists play with decoration, like Karen Kjaelgard-Larsen, whose dinnerware is emblazoned with surprisingly modern-looking enlarged elements from the Royal Copenhagen pattern.
A group of recyclers add painted or sandblasted patterns to vintage wares: Jo Meester sandblasts planes and wind turbines onto florals, while Johnathan Hopp and Sarah Auslander overprint ordinary platters to make them into Passover plates. Paul Scott's Foot And Mouth series includes a blue-and-white transfer-pattern plate depicting a milking scene in which the cow has been sandblasted away.
Some designers cut up and reassemble china to produce items of varying degrees of utility. Dror Benshetrit's functioning vases are cast from moulds of shattered forms, Maya Shapira and Sahar Batsry put sliced elements of white china together to make cups into bowls or plates into lids, while SNL's Noonies might be the only customers for Arman's conceptual Demi-Tasse service of halved dishes.
Rounded out by clay light fixtures, clocks and knives and a peek into future technological innovations, Object Factory's a fun excursion.