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Interviews

Picasso, Design and Collecting with Style Expert Claes Juhlin

To mark the opening of Important Picasso Ceramics Online (20–28 February), Sotheby's specialist Yessica Marks spoke to tastemaker Claes Juhlin, and asked him about his thoughts on Picasso's playful and intriguing creations. Read on to discover more.

S othebys: Your inspiring Instagram account features so many fantastic artworks and interiors. If you could name a few artists that have influenced you the most, who would they be and why?

Claes Juhlin: It is a real challenge for me to keep this answer short, but for the readers' sake I will try to narrow it down to three post-war artists: Bruce Nauman, Robert Ryman, and Rudolf Stingel. Nauman because he is one of the most influential and uncompromising American artists ever, with a practice that spans over every conceivable medium.

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Claes Juhlin

Ryman for his ultra-minimalistic approach and his focus on the process and the material effect of the act of painting. Stingel because he challenges and redefines notions concerning the medium of painting, and his ability to move freely between abstraction and representation regardless of scale.

S: You also feature some legendary collectors, as a collector yourself, who do you admire the most?

CJ: First of all, I am hardly a collector myself. Sometimes I have called myself an ‘aspiring collector’ but even that is a stretch. I tend to admire collectors that have a scholarly approach. When it comes to connoisseurship and quality it is hard not to mention J. Tomilson Hill or Peter Brant. The late French director, writer, and producer Claude Berri had impeccable taste in both art and design. I am also very impressed by the superb collection amassed by Thomas Ammann and Alexander Schmidheiny in the 1980s. Collecting at its finest.

S: You curated our latest Important Picasso Ceramics photoshoot, why did these specific examples from Picasso’s ceramic oeuvre appeal to you?

CJ: I wanted to show the overall quality of this body of work. The vases are of course fantastic, but so are the plates, and the jugs.

Unlike Picasso’s paintings or drawings his ceramics were meant to be functional and actually used in the home, so it felt important to pick a diverse selection of styles to emphasise that.

S: What kinds of interiors can you see these Picasso ceramics inhabiting?

CJ: What I have come to discover is that Picasso ceramics looks good in any kind of beautiful setting, regardless of the interior style or architectural features. The late Lord and Lady Attenborough had one of the most prominent collections of ceramics by Picasso and the pieces looked stunning in their Grade II listed 17th Century home close to London. Same goes with the large Picasso vase in the mid-century Los Angeles home of investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen.

S: If you could add one piece to your collection from the upcoming sale, which one would it be and why?

CJ: I am very fond of every single piece, but if I have to choose one it would probably be the Vase deux anses hautes.

I like the contemporary colour scheme and that the playful motif transforms this quite traditional vase shape into a figure with arms. I would consider this piece as much a sculpture as a vase.

CLICK HERE to view the full sale catalogue.

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