Fauvist Charger - Art by Clement Massier
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Clement Massier
Fauvist Charger

ca 1900

About

An encounter with Massier’s luster-glazed ceramics is an embarkation on an acid-colored trip, the sort of exploration which inspires deep reflection and requires transparency. Clement Massier, an accomplished ceramist born into a multi-generational family of potters working in Valauris, France in the second half of the 19th century, transcended his family’s metier. Rather than creating utilitarian objects as a means unto themselves, he used the ceramic medium as an aesthetic platform to make art. Among the many international awards earned during his lifetime, Massier was awarded a gold medal at Paris’s World’s Fair in 1889 at l’Exposition Universelle. At the Exposition, it was Massier’s ceramic glazing techniques using turquoise metallic luster which captured the world’s attention. In those 100 years since the start of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille, the world had changed in a drastic manner. The rise of the Industrial Age brought masses of people to cities. Commerce and consumerism dramatically increased across all class lines. Japanese ports of trade reopened, and a flood of goods and different ways of thinking produced a Tsunami effect on the West just as seismic as that which had been produced by the revolutionary Republicans. Without question, Japonisme, the influence of Japanese art, fashion and aesthetics on Western culture, evolved into a Western aesthetic. This prevailing aesthetic not only informed the appearance of objects made in Europe in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, but the way in which consumers interacted with these objects was also profoundly predicated on Japonisme. Clement Massier’s ceramic work is an embodiment of this aesthetic. Massier’s metallic luster glazes produce the dual properties of reflectivity and transparency to create iridescence. In order to achieve this, Massier fired his ceramics in a three-tiered process at increasingly lower temperatures. He applied the final glaze created from a metallic clay compound with a brush. When the blackened vessels had fully cooled, they were buffed until shiny to reveal his iridescent inspirations of nature. Each piece produced was a unique object revealing not only the hand of the artist but also the variable effects of temperature, natural elements and their interactive relationships. His glazes are illusory interpretations fused into fired earthenware. Conversely, the ceramic object’s solidity belies its ephemeral nature which constantly changes in light. This duality naturally inherent to this art medium is a theme which Massier echoes in his subject matter. On the merits of Japonisme, Massier presents a garden landscape as a work of art. Though inspired by nature, it is an interpretation rather than a copy. The dual natures of iridescence: reflection and transparency create the framework from which to relate to this scene. The image itself is divided into two zones. On the left, the acidic colors, so characteristic of Massier’s later lusterware, blend into an abstraction suggestive of essential elements of fire, water, air and earth. Abstraction acts in a reductive manner to suggest profundity and absolute spiritual truths while simultaneously speaking to the transitory aspect of life and the ephemerality found in nature. On the right, a more naturalistic approach is indicated by trees and shrubs. Perspective is used to create an illusion of space. Messier creates qualities of reflection in the figurative and theoretical sense. The amorphous shape in the lower right suggests a pool of water reflecting the scene above, much of which is outside of our vision, such as the sky blue with tiny cloud-like tufts of white. There is a also a suggestion of the trees in the foreground indicated by the light color and tinge of orange at the charger’s edge, while the more abstracted purple forms reflect distant foliage. The roundness of the charger, itself, serves as a further layer of reflectivity and transparency, as it, too, can be viewed as a depiction of an iridescent bubble. This clever commentary conveyed by Massier’s lusterware medium is indeed a reflection of the world as well as a reminder of its transitory nature and a call to appreciate it. Like a bubble, moments are fleeting …and then, pop! In 1900, the year he created this piece, Massier lost the love of his life, his beloved wife, Mary. From 1900 to 1901, he dedicated his objets d’art to her by adding an M to his initials. Objects by Clement Massier dating from this period are marked on their undersides with MCM. Iridescence is a double commentary which Massier’s work bears out. Like the best of Zen gardens, meditation on his lusterware can lead one on a journey of constant discovery and certainly on a path to satori.

Details

  • Artist
    Clement Massier (1844 - 1917, French)
  • Creation Year
    ca 1900
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Dimensions
    Dm 16.5 in.Dm 41.91 cm
  • Diameter
    16.5 in. (41.91 cm)
  • Gallery Location
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number
    LU46731751423
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About the Seller

5 / 5
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1stdibs seller since 2016
Located in Chicago, IL
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