Exhibitions Germany

Meissen gets contemporary

Exhibition aims to revive the spirit of the 1920s and 30s when the company worked with leading artists

K.O. Gotz and Otto Piene working on pieces for the Meissen Art Campus

leipzig. “Der neue Anfang” (The New Beginning) is an exhibition of the first results of Meissen's art campus project, which aims to revive the spirit of the 1920s and 30s when the company worked with leading artists, something that the Nazis put a stop to.

In 2010 the management of the state-owned porcelain manufacturing company first invited international artists take part in the project. Its chief executive said that he wants to make Meissen a “Mecca for contemporary art”.

Held at the Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig, an historic woollen mill, which now provides studio space for the likes of Neo Rauch and Michael Striegel as well as gallery space for Eigen + Art, the show includes work by over 20 international artists in total. Artists are making unique items, as well as limited editions of up to 25. Some of the latter are for sale.

The German artist Anselm Reyle, better known for sculpture and installations, said: “When I think of Meissen porcelain I immediately have a specific image in mind, a kind of stereotype idea of bourgeois living.” On his first visit to the factory he came across a box of scrap porcelain. “It gave me the idea to fire and glaze the material while it was still moist. The scrap is the opposite of the superior and immaculate quality of porcelain.” Working with Meissen's workers, Reyle was able to fire the large piece without shattering it by devising a special interior support.

For Berlin-based US artist Jen Ray the inherant elegance of porcelain as material appealed most: “I love the smoothness of the surface,” adding, “I am interested in the tradition that is being continued.”

The Art Campus programme runs separately from the regular porcelain production but according to Meissen porcelain painter Horst Brettschneider: “We are learning from the artists and vice versa.”

Meissen Art Campus, 17 September to 15 October 2011, Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig

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