Ceramics HoundCollecting, Picasso and Printmaking / 3 Comments I very much appreciate your website, and blogs. I am interested in how much of your personal interest falls to Picasso’s ceramics, Edition or original, as opposed to his other works. I collect Edition Ceramics, exclusively at this point. -William G.
3 thoughts on “Ceramics Hound”
Since you asked, I don’t personally care for that many of the editioned ceramics, but I am nuts about a few of them. I have bought three to date and can’t bear the thought of parting with any one of them. They are the two goats which you may have seen on our website, and AR518, the amazing, large plaque made from one of the linocuts. I tend to prefer the unique pieces.
I’m not sure I’m interested in gearing up into a full-fledged ceramic biz, even with the few that I love, for space and insurance reasons primarily, but I keep wondering about it.
Why just ceramics? Which ones do you favor or have you collected? And, by the way, you’re a strange bird in my experience, though I’m sure there are a number like you, but the people who contact me are generally primarily interested in prints or drawings. -Kobi
Given the current strength of the art market overall and Picasso ceramics specifically it would be interesting to track shifts in purchase preferences between years. I suspect that if you segment the Picasso Edition ceramics marketplace by price (< $1000, $1000-$3000, $4000-$8000, $9000+) you'd see growth in the lower bands over the upper, reflecting new entrants into the market. I'm slowly over time building my own database of auction prices and lot images, primarily for authentication purposes, but at some point I will turn to analysis. As to preference, by unique pieces, I assume you're meaning created of Picasso's hand. I traveled last year to Toronto to see the Picasso ceramics show at the University of Toronto. Did you attend? There were quite a few pieces loaned out by Picasso's heirs that hand not been exhibited before. They were to say the least, masterful. But not affordable in my case, so I focus on collecting the Edition ceramics. In Toronto I managed to see the originals (by Picasso) of a few of the Edition pieces I own (AR225, AR226) and I was very impressed by the work by Madoura, both in terms of technical ability and reproduction of the original. As to my love for ceramics, aaaah. They combine the 3 dimensional-ness of sculpture with the color of prints, all in a durable package that you can interact with in a tactile fashion—not behind glass. Thus a treat not only for the eyes.... As to those I favor, it's a long list! I am especially impressed with Picasso's varied and continuous studies of the face. I would love build a collection just on that theme. From the first Madoura pieces (AR1 and AR2) to the seldom sold painterly AR212 to the haunting faces in AR275 and AR320. There are three more faces worth mentioning. AR249 for how the nose is carved from the clay itself, that was a revelation in ceramics for never had I seen the body of the clay used in such a creative fashion. Ditto for AR372, how a face can be formed from just a few strokes of a finger and swashes of color. Finally AR436, which presents 4 continuous faces, each one viewable from one side only, and very much an insight into the clever workings of Picasso's mind. I have spent the past three years studying and collecting these works, and to my surprise I still find the pieces new and interesting. It's a testament to Picasso's genius, as I'm sure you know. Before this I had never collected art in any media. To close, as to the question of other media, I should mention that when I first saw your "Portrait de Jacqueline en Robe Imprimée " [Bloch 1082], it took my breath away. Perhaps a seed has been planted for down the road.. I appreciate your passion for things Picasso, it's shared! I look forward to joining the dialogue on the site.-William G.
I’ve been thinking of writing an essay that you’ve inspired. The subject would be the fine line between the brilliance and charm of simplification vs. sketchiness and oversimplification in Picasso’s art. If I get around to that essay, I’m afraid it won’t be flattering to your particular collecting instinct. Tastes vary greatly of course, and I cannot assert that mine is “better” than yours. (Of course, I feel that it is, but then again you probably feel the opposite!) Also, I am excited by your love for Picasso ceramics and wouldn’t want to put a damper on it. But I feel that your enthusiasm is overbroad. I’m glad Picasso dabbled in ceramics—certainly seems to have enjoyed himself. However, I also feel that the great majority of his editioned ceramics are not accomplished works of art. (Note how few of them I tabulated and rated in my manuscript—it was not out of laziness but rather the conviction that few of them merited my inclusion threshold.)
As I said, it’s a fine line, and probably every collector sets it for himself. Why, for example, do I dislike so many ceramic faces for their lack of detail yet I love the highly simplified owl in the poster Vallauris 1960 Exposition ( https://ledorfineart.com/B1290_Vallauris_1960_Exposition.html), which is displayed prominently in my home/office and for which I’ve refused offers to buy it? My answer is that I love the graceful cleverness with which the maestro depicted the owl with just two lines, not counting the eyes and feet. One of those two lines is particularly charming in that it flows continuously along the contours of the upper body, the head and the beak yet manages to evoke each of these separate structures along its way. The owl brings a smile to my face every time I glance at it, which I must say is quite often.
Most of Picasso’s editioned ceramics don’t evoke such emotions. I don’t quite get the charm of a face composed of two short lines (for the nose and mouth) and two dots (for the eyes). Such faces don’t seem to have required any particular talent. And then there are a number of more complicated designs that still seem devoid of accomplishment and beauty.
Yet in many cases of Picasso’s art, (like you?) I often prefer simplicity whereas the market prefers complexity. For example, regarding the series of 8 lithographs of Françoise (Bloch 396-403, all created the same day), the prices of these lovely works vary widely. It’s interesting that the more complicated designs in the series (B400 and 401) seem to fetch even more (each around $70K), despite the fact that they don’t appeal to me quite as much. I like the simplicity of the others in the series—that’s much of the appeal—as does the person who just bought two of them plus an earlier Françoise from us. Though there must be many of us who prize the simplicity of many of Picasso’s designs, clearly the most complex ones are in general valued higher. His very highest-priced print, La Minotauromachie (B288), is certainly his most detailed one. But the next two highest-priced ones are far from this extreme: La Femme qui Pleure (B1333) and La Femme au Tambourin (B310) are only moderately complex.
The main thing of course is that you love your Picasso ceramics and they bring a smile to your face! -Kobi