Desire, Delight, and Dirt
One of the themes of this blog is to shed a little light on the worldview of the artist.
Funny, playful, open and brilliant are words that come to mind when talking about Adrian Saxe. Adrian often includes social topics in his work. In fact, he told me that his ceramic sculptures are a platform for discussing cultural issues. It’s something that his work shares with the Sevres porcelain he knows so well. Desire in contemporary culture is, well…everywhere…and Saxe has often addressed it. He made a series of Magic Lamps, and exhibited them at the gallery in 1997. The show was called Wish I may, Wish I might. Each lamp (they were functional oil lamps or incense burners) dealt with a form of desire: for luck, for a perfect wave, for a getaway vacation, for security. The piece shown here, Hi-Fibre Gyno-Monocle Magic Lamp, is an example, and it’s now in a significant survey exhibit.
Saxe’s seductive, humorous and intelligent work is included in a show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. The show, titled Dirt on Delight, is the brilliant work of Ingrid Schaffner, Jenelle Porter and Glenn Adamson. There have been a few shows in the past couple of years that have surveyed the new developments in ceramics, but this one promises to be the best. It has a strong curatorial premise, and includes the young with the old. It’s on from January 16th through June 21st. After Philadelphia, the show travels to the Walker Art Center. Another Saxe, shown here, is also in the show: Sweet Dreams, 2004.
2008 was a good year for the recognition of Saxe. Adrian’s work was also included in a scholarly, inclusive exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum. Titled Rococo, The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008, the show traced the origins of rococo style and its evolution over three centuries. It reminded me of why Peter Schjeldahl once wrote “His fantastically ornate vessels, their academic orders exaggerated, are spectacularly skilled, harshly jokey, and show-off erudite. Saxe’s ceramics are engines of simultaneous seduction and insult.”