Collecting ceramics has long been sequestered to the worlds of Wedgewood and Worcester, but there's a new and evolving chapter when it comes to contemporary work according to specialist dealer Leslie Ferrin, whose 'Glazed & Diffused' exhibition is now up at her Ferrin Contemporary gallery on the MASS MoCA campus in North Adams, Massachusetts. We sat down with Ferrin to learn how this specific corner of the artworld is shifting...
Wallpaper*: How are ceramics changing?
Leslie Ferrin: What's happening today is that contemporary ceramics are no longer relegated to mere craft by a long shot.
Yes, Picasso turned to clay – how are contemporary artists embracing that ancient medium?
They are crossing over into painting, sculpture and design. Robert Silverman's complex wall installations encompass photographs printed on vinyl wallpaper and wood structures with glazed tile in brilliant chartreuse to searing orange.
With artists breaking new barriers, what has been the effect on collecting?
Collectors who come from the hipster art world, with the likes of Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst among their holdings, are suddenly zeroing in on Ron Nagle, who is the only ceramic artist to be honoured by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His 1990 Incense Burner, with its deeply perturbing sense of mystery, is highly prized.
To what degree are these artists garnering placement in the hallowed halls of the museums?
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with San Francisco's de Young museum, all now have substantial collections and regularly integrate sculptural clay in their contemporary art galleries. That's just happened in the past ten years.
What are prices like these days?
With the number of collectors growing exponentially so too have prices. Viola Frey and Ken Price command upwards of $100,000 but there's a host of artists whose price tags hover in the four figures.
What artists should we be watching?
Lauren Mabry, who was just granted the coveted Pew Fellowship. Then bound to further gain acclaim is Raymon Elozua, who turns to Clyfford Still paintings for inspiration. With Martin Margulies and Malcolm Forbes already owning his work, others are set to follow suit.