All of this came together, in the United States at least, at the national Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. That moment was a cultural watershed for America, a moment that unleashed something of an aesthetic awakening. It was in the aftermath of the Centennial that Americans began to see the potential for transforming ceramics from merely ornaments into art objects. In shape, in glaze, in surface treatment, pots could be more than just pots.
There are many styles included among the objects in this exhibition and a wide range of production techniques, each of them reflecting what was considered artistic at the time they were made. Some of these pots are Victorian in their aesthetic, others Art Nouveau, and some could be called Modern. Our goal has been to embrace an idea, not a particular taste, to corral a diverse group of ceramic objects and to shed light on what connects them.
This exhibition is the “prequel” to the 2003 exhibition Great Pots: Contemporary Ceramics from Function to Fantasy, which focused on the Museum’s striking collection of studio pottery.
A 120-page full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition, and can be purchased along with the previous catalogue Great Pots. The exhibition runs from Sept 23, 2009 to Jan 10, 2010.