American ceramics

So refined

USELESSNESS has its uses in art. In fact, sometimes art is defined by uselessness. An object that remains functional never quite gains the aura that is normally associated with the highest creations of the imagination. Ceramic objects must overcome a double barrier before they can be regarded as aesthetically important: pottery has to perform humble domestic functions, and it is made of the most commonplace material.

For a century and more, many ambitious ceramicists have laboured to lift the status of their craft. In the process, they have left behind any notion of utility, creating objects that, while they may nod to their antecedents in the cup, the jug or the storage jar, are gloriously (and often preposterously) impractical.

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