Large Vase 1; Möhwald, Martin; 1992; PC004

From

The Clay Studio

Name/Title

Large Vase 1

About this object

cylindrical vase with images of people and text

Maker

Möhwald, Martin

Maker Role

Artist

Date Made

1992

Medium and Materials

Stoneware

Measurements

6.5 x 6.5 x 14 inches

Subject and Association Keywords

Germany

Subject and Association Description

Martin Möhwald was a Guest Artist in Residence at The Clay Studio in 2002.

Martin Möhwald was the second of four children born to painter Otto Möhwald and Gertraud Mohwald, a well-known ceramist in her own right and arguably one of Europe’s important modernist clay artists. Gertraud’s patchwork style of form and color assemblage is indubitably evident in Martin’s scrapbook style of surface decoration.

Möhwald’s scrapbook style is achieved through a process of image transfer. In Paul Scott’s book, Ceramics and Print, Scott references Möhwald’s technique: “Using the same physical properties of paper absorption and toner repellent, an opposite methodology has been developed by Martin Möhwald and Patrick King. For their process, the ceramic colour is fixed to the absorbent white paper rather than toner” (page 115). (It is not clear if this process was developed independently by the two artists).

The use of image transfer in East European ceramics is notable, as within this context it marked a significant technical achievement and use of resources. In East Europe, image transfers may have been inventive adaptations or borrowings from factory settings or achieved using standard, iron-bearing inkjet printers. Möhwald’s use of image transfers is no doubt advanced and defined nearly the entirety of his oeuvre. Applied to functional pottery forms, there appears to be a great deal of range in terms of the success of Möhwald’s work. The best of Möhwald’s work has impact: attractive, sometimes unusual, and voluminous forms rounded to simplicity are sometimes upset and dynamically improved by subtle bulges, twists, and other perceptible malformations. These forms are offset, tactfully undermined, or enhanced by an often-fragmentary approach to surface that creates a sense of the uncanny or implies an uncertain statement or narratives in a stream-of-consciousness scrapbook-style.

The visual clarity, boldness, and almost-crystalline complexity of Mohwald’s best work is contrasted by the understated and clunky objects that comprise his worst. And it should be noted that from a critical point of view, this dichotomy is in part owed to the uncertain position of the artist as potter versus art potter, with the best and most invested works by the artist seemingly at odds with the productivity of the potter and a diluted investment in a large number of less-significant forms. This alludes to the artist’s quest to bring together both traditional and contemporary ideas regarding vessels as objects of serious artistic debate. Given the number of works by Möhwald that are currently held by The Clay Studio (and more were presumably held before), it seems inevitable that some are not of the highest quality, although there are a couple of exceptions.

Collection

The Clay Studio Collection

Credit Line

The Clay Studio Collection, Philadelphia

Object Type

Vessel

Object number

PC004

Copyright Licence  

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