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L’art de la table: 150 years of Bernardaud

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Their teacups runneth over with cultural heritage, but that doesn’t mean Bernardaud will be celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary indulging the nostalgic cult of the past. The connoisseurs of savoir-faire have reaffirmed their dedication to modernity in their 150th year by collaborating with contemporary artists including David Lynch, Marlène Mocquet, Michael Lin, Jeff Koons, Sophie Calle and Michael Brambilla. The Limoges porcelain house has asked each artist to design a six or twelve-piece dinner set and has opened a corresponding Chelsea boutique to exhibit the expanding collection.


The artists responded diversely. The idea of a set lends itself to a series which progresses narratively; Lynch tells a story over his twelve plates: the drawings of Boundless Sea are abstract, haunted by the distinctly Lynchian phantoms of a broken America.  Sophie Calle foregoes imagery in her autobiographical, text-based narrative; across her 12-piece set she recounts the story of a rather alarming afternoon. The sets are transformed – they are no longer equivalent, duplicate objects, rather they govern the table. As Calle describes:People have to sit in order, there have to be six at table and breaking a plate becomes a no-no”.


Despite the contemporaenity of the project, there is history and memory in the collections. Alekos Fassianos rouses his native Grecian heritage; known for his meticulous study of ancient pottery, especially lekythoi, colorful mythic scenes and figures update his classically-stimulated designs. Sarkis Zabunyan adapted the 16th Century technique Kintsugi, whereby visible repairs are made in fired ceramic using a mixture of lacquer and gold. Koons attempts to chart the democratization of porcelain; the kitsch, quotidian ephemera that define his Banality series countercharge the historical notion that porcelain was “the emperor’s material”.


Perhaps you will be transported by these dinner sets, perhaps they will just make your food look better. Either way, head down to 465 West 23rd Street or www.bernardaud150.com



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