Saxe at Sèvres
Some of our American artists are international, too. Though he was born close by in Glendale and still lives in L.A., Adrian Saxe is internationally known. Once dubbed the “Global Potter” by the Los Angeles Times, Saxe has fused together traditions from many cultures, and produced works that are seductive, humorous and intelligent. He often playfully refers to luxurious and regal French culture. But his experience with that culture came firsthand – back in 1983 he was selected by sculptor Georges Jeanclos to be the first international resident at the Manufacture de Sèvres. Sèvres, the centuries-old French home of court porcelains, opened its doors to foreign artists, allowing them to use the formulas and facilities located just outside Paris.
Saxe first encountered Sèvres porcelain in the Huntington’s eighteenth century ceramic collection, and was enthusiastic about the opportunity to study Sèvres techniques in person. During his time in Paris, he experimented with the hallmark soft-paste porcelain and French-style mold making, and grew bolder in his use of gold lusters and gilding. Using the white surface of the material to explore glaze and luster effects, Saxe incorporated the factory’s traditions into his eclectic practice. His time at Sèvres was so productive that he returned to Paris in 1987 for a second fellowship.
I’ll be presenting three works by Adrian Saxe from the Manufacture de Sèvres in part two of our group show, Frank’s International House of Ceramics. These Théières were cast in molds from the distinctive soft-paste porcelain, and their surface decoration was applied by the factory’s master China-painters according to Saxe’s patterns. Riffing on the quirkiness of Sèvres forms, Saxe has created a series of Théières that resemble Pac-Man, a playfully irreverent use of traditional resources. They are whimsically crowned with gilded lids, referring to the royal patronage enjoyed by Sèvres at the time of its founding.