François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008), "Ostrich" bar, 1970-1979, porcelain biscuit, metal, Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres.
© Photo: Gérard Jonca/Sèvres - Manufacture et musée nationaux
When she presented the 2015 exhibition "From Sèvres to Fifth Avenue: French Porcelain at the Frick Collection", Charlotte Vignon could hardly have known that five years later she would return to Sèvres after a brilliant career in America (at the Cleveland Museum, the Metropolitan and the Frick Collection). In late June, the museum's new director inaugurated the second sequence of "The Beauty of the Gesture": an exhibition on the importance of the techniques and skills maintained at the factory. For Vignon, "the dialogue between the museum and the factory is essential to contemporary creation." Guest artists should be able to learn our techniques and situate them in their historical and aesthetic context.
"The exhibition is full of dialogue, from the "jatte téton" or "breast cup" (which legend has it was moulded on Marie-Antoinette's breast) to the multi-breasted sphinx by Louise Bourgeois, Nature Study, and from the Lalannes' "Ostrich" bar to the anthropomorphic vases of Pascal Convert. With the accent on "drawing and design", painting and the use of gold, it also touches on the little-known tradition of porcelain furniture. Like Bertrand Lavier with his sofa sporting Mae West's voluptuous lips – a tribute to Salvador Dalí's famous sofa –, designers have indulged in every kind of boldness. In the line of Neoclassical commodes covered in porcelain plaques with floral motifs, like the one belonging to the Comte d’Artois, Nathalie du Pasquier proposed her "Letter storage box" in 1996, while the Doshi Levien duo revisited the cabinet.