Art ceramics (or artistic ceramics ) is the art of creating a type of ceramics made from materials such as clay which are given an “artistic form”: ceramic tiles , figurines , sculptures , dishes , etc. Visual arts , and more broadly plastic arts , art ceramics can be works of art , decorative , industrial , applied objects , or even artifacts. Artistic ceramics are the fruit of one or more people. Art ceramics are designed, manufactured and decorated in potteries or in ceramic workshops.

Most traditional ceramic products have been made from clay (or clay mixed with other materials), shaped and subjected to heat. Tableware and decorative ceramics are still generally produced this way. In modern ceramic engineering usage, ceramic is the art and science of making objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials by the action of heat. It therefore excludes glass and glass mosaic tesserae.

Ceramic art has a long history in most developed countries and many ceramics are artistic elements left over from extinct cultures, such as that of the Nok in Africa over 2000 years ago. Cultures particularly recognized for their artistic ceramics include the Chinese , Cretans , Greeks , Persians , Mayans , Japanese , and Koreans , as well as modern Western cultures.

The elements of ceramic art, on which different degrees of importance have been placed according to the eras, are the shape of the object, its painted decoration, the sculpture, or even the glazing present on many ceramics..

Korean ceramics 

Korean ceramics appeared around 10,000 BC, in Palaeolithic cultures or operating the transition between Upper Paleolithic and Neolithization . It is, then, in the Neolithic, simple forms, with light reliefs which facilitate the prehension. Long before the constitution of the first kingdoms, the Korean cultural space was in relation with its neighbors and similarities in the ceramics can testify to this from this distant time.

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Then Korean ceramics continues to invent new forms while integrating certain technical elements of Chinese ceramics , such as stoneware and glazes, then proto-porcelain, due to the occupation of part of the country by China. , from 108 BCE to 313 CE, but mostly because of its proximity, especially to its colonies that the Korean Baekje Kingdoms maintained within the Chinese Empire.

Then, under the Goryeo dynasty (918 – 1392) she was again inspired by Chinese ceramics and resumed the process of stoneware with a celadon green glaze , but to apply them, with a brilliance celebrated by the Chinese themselves, to forms of a beautiful creative spirit and, for a large part of the production, to decorative techniques specific to Korea: an art of “engraved” ceramic, incised, close to the art of bronze during the carving, the inlay and damascene . In these luxurious Goryeo ceramics, the green color is more discreet than in China.

The Joseon period (1392 to 1910) sees new forms of sandstone, more refined, more modest materials and a more spontaneous work which is appreciated in neighboring Japan: buncheong ceramics where white slip plays an important role. At the same time, alongside this art, all in the economy of means, is also developing the taste for white porcelain of great purity of form, as well as painted porcelain, “blue and white” or painted in brown. of iron, even with the red of copper oxide. The gesture of the Korean painter always retains its simplicity of expression, its speed and its fantasy.

The art of contemporary Korean ceramics

Current Korean artists use the means of ceramics and its symbolic richness in Korea for a practice that reinvents its forms and forges new visions, aesthetic or otherwise. Among the countless Korean artists and ceramists who use or are inspired by ceramics, here are just a few who are featured in the “Earth, Fire, Spirit” exhibition. Masterpiece of Korean Ceramics”. Spring 2016, Paris .

Yeesookyung, 
Translated Vase [Vase traduit]. 2007. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago

Some artists do not hesitate to collaborate closely with professional ceramists, as Lee Ufan does with ceramist Park Youngsook: they thus decline the constituent principles of Korean ceramics in their essential form: for example, for a piece, of all the forms they retain the moon jar in white clay – the gesture: the single stroke of the brush – the color: blue on white… The visual artist Sheong Kwangho only approaches ceramics to transgress its opaque form and closed on itself, retaining its cracked appearance and the fragility of pottery reconstituted in museums: thus is evoked the pure and fragile form with a simple copper wire! Shin Sang-ho , a trained ceramist, deploys their types beyond their traditional uses (as when he assembles fragments of colored dishes to evoke a Korean patchwork : the jogakbo ). Huang Kapsun diverts classic means in a spirit that revisits minimal art .

The ceramist Yeesookyung works on large assemblages of fragments of old ceramics (as one glues precious vases, according to tradition), giving them an unexpected, proliferating scale, on graceful, and sometimes even, voluptuous lines. “The materials and processes chosen transcend the breaks between Art and Applied Arts, East and West, ancient and modern”.

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The photographer Koo Bohnchang currently refers to features of Korean culture, such as the famous white porcelain, with the qualities specific to photography in its most subtle shades, here the shades of whites on a “white” background. Shin Meekyoung is currently striving to reproduce old vases in soap paste: the universal permanence of ceramics meets its image here, one could not be more fragile, almost bubbles! The video can also multiply points of view, angles, and capture a form as emblematic of Korean ceramics as the moon jar. And thus slipping from its form “which tends to perfection” and from its “almost white and smooth” material to reach a universal plane. At last,artist Kimsooja , with her video installation Earth, Water, Fire, Air “addresses the universality of ceramics as the embodiment of nature’s simplicity and splendor” .

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