Discover the master craft behind Aldo Bakker’s sensual forms in New York
The gestural, thought-provoking practice of the Dutch artist/designer Aldo Bakker is in the spotlight in New York City, thanks to a new exhibition staged at Les Ateliers Courbet in Manhattan’s Chelsea district.
The self-titled show, which is Bakker’s second solo presentation with the gallery, as well as on US soil, is a comprehensive display of new and recent pieces – many of which are in the permanent collections of institutions including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Cooper Hewitt in New York.
Bakker’s signature approach to design and form is on parade here, but it’s the breadth of his design work and his longstanding collaborative relationships with master craftsmen such as Rutger Graas (wood), Sergei Kirilov (Urushi lacquer), Andre van Loon (silver) and Frans Ottink (porcelain) that brings a particularly exciting aspect to the exhibition. From the watery, emerald surface of the lacquered Le Lac table (2007) to the dynamic, yet perfectly finished form of the one-legged mahogany Stool (2006), each of the pieces is not only a testament of Bakker’s love for sensual, organic forms, but also infused with a movement bestowed by the master craftsman working with the material of the designer’s choice.
Silver Carafe, Limited Edition of 15, Les Editions Courbet by Aldo Bakker, manufactured by Wiener Silber Manufactur
There are also a wide array of vessels, of course; from the ergonomic Artifact (2013) in dark grey bisque porcelain to the stout, gold-plated silver pourer Pivot (2014) and the slender bone-china Pot (2015) in a sulphur hue – each inspired by our nature and culture, yet with a personality of its own.
‘Every time, a pouring vessel – that’s what I make the most,’ muses Bakker. ‘It’s a welcome topic for me because if you like, you can also compare it with ourselves; how we are guests on this planet, placed here for a while and then we’re gone. It’s a circle and that’s what happens with these vessels. Every time I question the relationship between the handle, the container, the spout – so far, this is a very welcome theme.’
Making its debut is a duo of silver carafes designed especially for Les Ateliers Courbet and made by the Viennese silversmiths Wiener Silber Manufactur. Formed by an assemblage of undulating lines that mimic the shape of the hand, the silver vessels, which have been skilfully hammered by hand, are imbued with the same dramatic tension that ripples through all of Bakker’s creations.
‘The original idea was to create two sizes [on the smaller side], but Aldo has kindly accepted to explore a larger size for me,’ explains Melanie Courbet, founder of Les Ateliers Courbet, ‘because I think with our life today, we might use a taller carafe more than we would used a smaller one, which is a beautiful objet.’§