War and Pieces
, a special installation at The Frick Art Museum, presents Dutch contemporary artist Bouke de Vries’s interpretation of an 18th-century tablescape with a sprawling assemblage of porcelain fragments resembling a nuclear wasteland. A former conservator of art objects, de Vries resurrects broken porcelain shards that would otherwise have been discarded and uses them to create new artworks that tackle both contemporary and historic issues. De Vries found inspiration in the sophisticated figural centerpieces that adorned European aristocracy’s banquet tables during the 17th and 18th centuries. Displayed during the dessert course for special occasions, these figures were initially crafted from sugar, a rare and prized commodity that signaled the wealth of the host. In the 18th century, European porcelain manufactories began to produce more enduring replacements of the sugar forms. De Vries references these traditions with a modern centerpiece assembled around a mushroom cloud explosion that has rendered the table a ravaged battleground. Figures clash across a heap of porcelain ruins, armed with brightly colored contemporary plastic toys—indestructible symbols of today’s toxic waste. War and Pieces
, called a “masterwork” by art critics, is currently touring in North America after traveling to venues throughout Europe and Asia. Tour organized by Leslie Ferrin, Ferrin Contemporary.
Learn more from Curator Dawn Reid Brean here