The 1980s were revolutionary times for creative fields. For scholar Glenn Adamson, who cites the decade as “the best of times” for many genres of art, the advent of MTVs music videos and the height of graffiti are on par with an often overlooked creative field having a moment of its own – studio ceramics.
On Wednesday, Phillips New York will pay homage to several ceramics legends from the ’80s when it offers the Westminster Collection as part of its design sale. Nearly 30 pieces by Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, and others come from the collection of the former owner of Boston’s noted Westminster Gallery – the destination for studio ceramics of the era.
More ceramics from the Westminster Collection at Phillips.
“The Westminster gallery operated in Boston between 1980 and 1987, and it sold all British craft – textiles, ceramics, woodworking, and glass,” explains Meagan Roddy, senior vice president and senior international specialist at Phillips. “The owner has held onto the pieces since he closed his gallery in ’87, and they’ve been in his private collection since.” Coming, essentially, directly from this gallery means that the works have great provenance; most were acquired directly from the artist and have not been on the market in over 30 years. The ceramics run the gamut in terms of color and style – bubbly vases in cotton-candy glazes, angular works wearing splashes of paint, mirrored black pieces by Rie – but are unified by their quality.
Phillips has a proven market for ceramic works, and the auction house is known to integrate ceramics into its design sales. Remember that major Peter Volkous that realized $915,000, an auction record, last December? “We are very confident in the market,” adds Roddy.
Lot 73: a vase and double teapot by Nicholas Homoky. Estimate: $1,500–$2,000.