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Forget Louis Wain’s psychedelic cats, here are his crazy Cubist ceramics
06.26.2017
11:57 am
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Sometimes it seems that luck is far more important than talent. Louis Wain was a talented artist but he was never a lucky man.

Louis Wain was the man who drew cats. He was born in the East End of London in 1860, the only boy in a family of five girls. This meant that when his father died Louis became the family’s sole provider. As he was good at art, he started submitting illustrations for various magazines. These proved popular. This led to his joining the staff of the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in 1882. His artistic streak most probably came from his mother as she had once been a textile designer. Little is known about his father.

In 1884, Louis married the family’s governess, Emily. She was ten years older than Louis who was then a rather green 23-year-old. It was because of his love for Emily that Louis started drawing cats. Emily had a small black and white cat called Peter whose company she greatly enjoyed. When Emily became too ill to play with Peter, dear old Louis spent hours sketching the cat in the hope his drawings would bring his wife some needed cheer and a much hoped for recovery. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Emily had cancer and died three years later in 1887.

The year prior to Emily’s death, Louis had the good fortune to show his editor a small selection of the cat drawings he had made for his wife. The editor liked these illustrations so much that he published two of them in the following edition of the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. This was the first real luck Louis ever had. His drawings were greatly received and led to his being commissioned to illustrate two books Madam Tabby’s Establishment and A Kitten’s Christmas Party.  After Emily’s death, Louis focussed solely on drawing more cats. It was his main connection to his wife which also became a way to make money.

Louis produced cat illustrations for postcards and greeting cards, adverts, books and toys. Then, just before the First World War, he designed a series of ceramic cats which he mainly called “Lucky.” These designs for vases—chunky, square, and brightly painted—were inspired by the latest fad for Cubism. Unfortunately for Louis, his designs weren’t so lucky with the home market as they were considered ugly and tasteless and did not sell at all well in England. But fortunately, in America, these crazy cats were highly popular. This should have been Louis’s retirement fund, but a large consignment of his ceramics bound by ship for the United States was sunk in the Atlantic by a German U-boat. This, together with the war, briefly put and end to Louis’ Cubist cats.

After the war, his designs were picked up once again and manufactured in Italy. By now, Louis was in severe financial difficulties. His naivety about the world had led to his squandering much of his hard-earned cash on crank business propositions or foolishly giving it away in response to begging letters. It’s unclear how much money Louis made from this second production of his ceramics. If he did make money, well, it proved of little avail as Louis was certified insane and committed to an asylum in 1924.

Louis Wain’s art and designs fell out of favor until the early 1960s, when his cat paintings became highly fashionable again.

Today, like his paintings, Louis Wain’s ceramic animals are greatly sought after and can sell for as much as $10,000 each. The designs mainly feature cats, but there are also designs of pigs and dogs. As ever, with the unlucky Mr. Wain, some of the designs that flooded the market about a decade ago were considered to be fake. But those who posses a genuine Louis Wain Cubist cat, they are lucky enough to own a thing of great beauty.
 
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See more of Louis Wain’s ceramics, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.26.2017
11:57 am
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Animals armed with guns & snake oil salesmen: The confrontational ceramics of Mitchell Grafton
06.16.2017
10:12 am
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A curious ceramic creation by Mitchell Grafton.
 
Insanely talented ceramic artist Mitchell Grafton has been working in his field since he was nineteen when he was hired by Odell Pottery in Panama City, Florida to help make their ceramic goods. Odell Pottery was run by three-time U.S. Pottery Olympics Champion Bruce Odell and Grafton spent seven years working under Odell making lamp bases while completing his degree in Architecture at a Louisiana technical college. Later in 1991, Grafton would enter the same competition as his mentor, which he not only won on his first time out, but three more times. None of Grafton’s early success seems surprising once you have seen his whimsical designs, often featuring animals—such as an octopus that has joined forces with a tank complete with a soldier in a gas mask riding on top of its head.

On Grafton’s blog, it’s noted that he does take commissions and he has posted many examples of his custom orders there, as well as on Grafton Pottery’s official Facebook page. As you would hope, the imaginations of Grafton’s fans often rival the artist’s own, for example, the freakishly eccentric designs Grafton created at the behest of a Canadian ceramics enthusiast who could no longer live without a mug with removable antlers and the face of a man smoking a stogie. Because life it too short to not own weird things made by weird people. This is the golden age of that, so savor it. I’ve posted a ton of images of Grafton’s wild ceramic creations below for you to check out below. Some are kinda/sorta NSFW.
 

A ceramic vivisected frog clinging to a mug. One of the many wonderfully weird ceramics created by Mitchell Grafton.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.16.2017
10:12 am
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Russian prison tattoo-themed plateware (NSFW)
10.31.2016
12:34 pm
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In Russian tattoos, the cat symbolizes a successful thief
 
It was just a couple of weeks ago that we brought you old-school ceramics with pictures of German nuclear power plants on them. There may be something of a trend happening here, for today our offering consists of similar ceramic plateware with astonishing illustrations derived from Russian prison tattoos.

Valeria Monis is the “multidisciplinary designer” who creates these amazing plates and vases, invariably in cobalt blue. Every object is handmade, so they are also quite individual; there is no mass production here. Monis was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The title of Monis’ project is “From Russia With Love.” It combines “the subversive art of Russian criminal tattoos” and “traditional blue porcelain design,” bringing together “two opposed but equally important and influential strands of Russian art history.” As Monis writes of this Russian tradition, “In the criminal world, a man with no tattoos has no status. ... The illustrations they wear on their skin tells the story of their closed society, a society with its own hierarchy and social structure.”

While transmitting information to others about a person’s crimes and prison terms, the tattoos more fundamentally express a kind of folk understanding of sex, love, honor, sacrifice, and happiness. Many of the images are deeply misogynistic, bestowing warnings of the perils of “whores” and “bitches,” although others celebrate sex, orgasm, and the delights of “playing with your body.” 

Not all of the tattoos are bawdy or boastful or are intended to denote status. Some of the tattoos depict visions of failure or loss, while others are markers of connubial bliss.
 

Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Volume I, by Danzig Baldaev
 
Monis’ source material is FUEL Publishing’s remarkable series of Russian prison tattoo books by Danzig Baldaev.

These intriguing items are available for purchase. Small plates (roughly 6 inches in diameter) cost $95 or $99, large plates (11 inches) cost $120, and the vases cost between $250 and $300.
 

Vologda Transit Prison, 1950s
 

“Girls, find yourself a generous hand. You’ll be fed, dressed, and entertained, and you’ll play with your body….”
 
Many more of these marvelous ceramic items after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.31.2016
12:34 pm
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Super strange sculptures only the dark and demented could love
02.02.2016
09:31 am
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Home Haunter, porcelain, fur, gold luster, china paint by Shary Boyle, 2015
“Home Haunter,” porcelain, fur, gold luster, china paint by Shary Boyle, 2015
 
That’s not to say, of course, that if you’re not as dark and demented as yours truly, that you won’t also be drawn to these gorgeous yet strange ceramic sculptures by Canadian artist, Shary Boyle. But it might help.

Boyle has worked with a number of musical artists during her career, like the equally out-there Peaches and Feist. While her CV isn’t limited to sculpture (Boyle works in nearly every medium), it is her bizarre, yet enchanting sculptures that caught my eye today. Boyle’s strange ceramics, while compelling to look at, also attempt to convey powerful messages on such topics as social equality, eroticism and the emotional turmoil that we as human beings are subjected to existing in this world together.

What I love most about Boyle’s off-kilter ceramics, in addition to their heavy ideas, is that they are at times somewhat amusing (to me anyway). Like her piece “Bless You,” which features a creepy white porcelain hand, with an drastically elongated middle finger pointed straight at the sky.

A back view of Home Haunter by Shary Boyle
“Home Haunter,” back view
 
The Dandy Widow, Shary Boyle, 2009
“The Dandy Widow,” 2009
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.02.2016
09:31 am
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This might be the creepiest ceramic set EVER
03.06.2015
01:35 pm
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This is totally amazing. Ronit Baranga is a ceramic sculptor from Israel, and she has come up with a set of tableware that will automatically call up images of Fester, Lurch, Wednesday, the Thing, and the rest of the Addams clan. Her website is a total trip, and I look forward to seeing more of her creations in the future.

Baranga’s high-minded comment on her anthropomorphic set runs like this:
 

The useful, passive, tableware can now be perceived as an active object, aware of itself and its surroundings – responding to it. It does not allow to be taken for granted, to be used. It decides on its own how to behave in the situation.

 
When regular household items become “active objects,” that’s usually what we call haunting, or possibly something like a Nest Learning Thermostat—either way, I won’t get too worried until one of these pieces actually starts nibbling at my lips or walking towards me!
 

 

 

 
If you haven’t already lost your appetite, there’s more after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.06.2015
01:35 pm
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Knick-knacks of the damned: Infernal ceramic children that will haunt your dreams
10.24.2014
03:13 pm
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Danish artist Maria Rubinke creates porcelain figurines of children. Terrifying children. Children of netherworldly terror. These hellish Hummels manage to contrast a traditionally refined medium against cutesy schlock and supernatural horror. Rubinke’s classical skills were honed at the The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, specifically the School of Glass and Ceramics on Bornholm—a Danish island popular among tourists for its scenic nature and tradition of craftsmanship. And don’t these pieces just scream “quaint, bucolic holiday?”

It’s the combination of her skilled hand the formality of porcelain that makes these surreal little cherubs so haunting. Behold, Beelzebub’s babies, for theses are surely Satan’s tchotchkes!
 

 

 

 

 
More of Maria Rubinke’s macabre porcelain figurines after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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10.24.2014
03:13 pm
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