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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, London

  • Literature

    Louis Schouwenberg, Hella Jongerius, London, 2003, n.p. for similar examples

  • Catalogue Essay

    On the shoulder of each vase on view here, Hella Jongerius has impressed an outsize thumbprint (hers, we presume), beneath which appears the stamp “1280°C”, the temperature at which porcelain is fired. The thumbprint seems both proud signature (the artist’s hand is literally evident) and admission of guilt: fingerprints, after all, lead to convictions—Ceramist Jailed for Cultural Appropriation. Jongerius confesses, “I amalgamate images from both high and low culture. I stack one idiom on another”. But her sampling isn’t larceny, it’s inclusive design and evidence of a wily imagination.
     
    Porcelain has been held in high esteem for a very long time; proto-porcelain Shang wares date back three thousand years. Jongerius chose this prized material but left her vases unglazed to subvert any reference to preciousness. To further undermine claims to refinement, or age, she sprayed one vase with car body paint—that’s ’68 Mustang red, not drawing-room red. She identifies her inspirations, “…street culture is just as important as high culture.” But the present vases were cast by Royal Tichelaar Makkum, the oldest company in the Netherlands. For nearly five hundred unbroken years, Makkum has espoused “the pursuit of perfection”. Jongerius, ever playful, won’t stand for such sententious talk: she expresses seams, mould marks, and other random flaws as decoration and as honest celebration of industrial fabrication.
     
    On a now famous trip to Uganda, Jongerius fell in love with a simple wooden chair made by a local carpenter. Returning home, she reinterpreted it in carbon fibre, fibreglass, and felt. Her ‘Kasese Sheep Chair’ (1999) is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. “Craft is a theme in my work. Mixing it with the industrial process is like mixing high and low tech, mixing first and third world cultures, mixing tradition with a contemporary language, different ages and techniques.” Jongerius is a ceramist, of course, but also a glass artist, a furniture builder, and a textile designer whose interests and influences are legion. She is above all else a sampler, that great contemporary cultural hero, the mash-up artist.

119

Four bulbous vases, a unique installation

c. 2002
Cast porcelain and red car body paint.
Each: 33 cm. (13 in.) high
Raised boss with thumbprint and text (4).

Estimate
£6,000 - 9,000 

Sold for £17,500

Design

25 Sept 2008, 2pm
London