LONDON – It’s fascinating to see the work of ceramicist Lucie Rie in the New York Times T Magazine section this week – artist Leanne Shapton creates new artworks using pictures salvaged from old books. In this instance she has taken a catalogue from a Crafts Council exhibition in the 1980s and rendered Rie’s ceramics as paintings.
What is interesting is seeing a contemporary artist approach works by such an influential maker – Dame Lucie Rie, to give her her full title, is internationally recognised for her role in bringing pottery to the attention of collectors, critics and gallery-goers across the globe. 20 years after her death she is still at the artistic forefront, leading the way for a host of younger artists and designers, from Edmund de Waal to Issey Miyake.
(LEFT) DAME LUCIE RIE, TALL SGRAFFITO BOWL, ESTIMATE £4,000–6,000. (RIGHT) DAME LUCIE RIE AND HANS COPER, TEACUP & SAUCER, ESTIMATE £200–300.
Her brilliant and striking work captures the tenacity of postwar British design, yet it remains resonant with the history and practises of traditionally thrown forms and vessels. Together with her close friend Hans Coper she set the benchmark for a new way of thinking through the medium of clay. Just as she has caught the attention of Shapton, Rie continues to attract other artists and the wider public. At the time of writing there is an exhibition at The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria until 9 March, while her work is housed in the most prestigious museums across the globe – including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and MoMA in New York. Obviously this is a measure of her importance – but it’s also exceptional that works by an artist of this stature can still be acquired with both ease and affordability. Our Made in Britain sale on 25 March, for instance, offers a striking selection of her works, including impressive works from the 1960s. With estimates ranging from £200 to £18,000, it’s an opportunity not only to see, but also to start to collect the work of a true artistic innovator.
DAME LUCIE RIE. (LEFT) TEAPOT WITH SGRAFFITO DESIGN, ESTIMATE £1,000–1,500. (RIGHT) BLUE 'BULB' VASE, ESTIMATE £4,000–6,000.
Robin Stewart is a specialist in the Modern British Art department, Sotheby’s London.