ceramic modernism: Hans coper, Lucie rie and their legacy at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art (111 Queen's Park), to September 2. $10, stu/srs $6, first Tues of month free. 416-586-8080. Rating: NNNN
Did you ever wonder where the clichés of mid-century modern design came from, like those pottery vases that flare from rounded forms to tiny openings? In the work of modernist ceramic pioneers Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, Jewish artists who fled to England from Austria and Germany in the late 30s, the Gardiner Museum presents the original, essential and exquisite version. These artists created small vessels with big sculptural presence. Coper played with poetic variations of form, inspired by small Cycladic figurines (one of which is included in the show) and modern sculpture, while Rie experimented with colour, geometrical sgraffito design and bumpy glazes on more recognizable, albeit highly elegant bowls, vases and cups.
The exhibit includes over 90 examples of modern-art ceramics that continue Rie's and Coper's meditation on the clay container. Many move beyond the functional. Belgium's Piet Stockmans arranges a grid of multiple small clay box forms, each slightly deformed by the artist, creating a changing pattern of shadows as the viewer walks before them.
But the pieces that hold to Coper's and Rie's human-hand scale and useable form -- Australian Gwyn Hanssen Pigott's luminous blue-green cups, paper-thin porcelain cylinders with Mondrian-esque ornament by Denmark's Bodil Manz -- embody a kind of utilitarian dignity that the more free-form artworks lack.
A fine study of the overlap of art and email@example.com