At the Riga Art Space, Riga, Latvia
from 7 April to 18 June, 2017.
“From Baroque until Today. European Cultural Lifestyle in Ceramics” is a travelling international exhibition devoted to the development of ceramics in Europe from the 17th century to the present day, focussing on the social aspects of this broad, diverse phenomenon i.e. how everyday life and habits were directly affected by changes in Europe over five centuries, and how these shifts were indirectly reflected in the artistry and production of majolica, ceramics, faience and porcelain. New objects were created as exotic products entered Europe following sea voyages to undiscovered lands. Existing forms were transformed or lost through shifts in lifestyles, fashions and political events. Techniques and methods developed in both formal and decorative terms. Objects emerged under the influence of opinions about beauty and utility, and they in turn helped shape these views.
The exhibition’s initiator and chief curator is the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza (Italy). Eight other European state museums connected with ceramics, applied art, design and history have helped assemble the exhibition’s content:
Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Czech Republic
Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Tallinn, Estonia
Association of Culture Institutions of Riga City Council, The Riga Porcelain Museum, Latvia
Porzellanikon – Staatliches Museum für Porzellan, Hohenberg a. d. Eger / Selb
Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade, Serbia
National Museum of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia
National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts “González Martí”, Valencia, Spain
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
The exhibition offers an insight into the ceramics collections of these nine important European museums. Of course, the exhibition only presents a small part of the cultural treasures in these museums. However, the 200 selected objects show the main development trends in ceramic art and production, revealing parallels between various cultures in the European context and highlighting the unique experience of each region and country.
From 2015 to 2017 the exhibition “European Cultural Lifestyle in Ceramics from Baroque until Today” was on show in Serbia, Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Estonia. Riga, Latvia, is its final destination, coordinated by the Riga Porcelain museum. In addition to The Riga Porcelain Museum objects that are featured in the exhibition visitors will be able to see also treasures from Rundale Palace Museum, Latvia - “Courland décor” is the designation given to the design of the porcelain service ordered from Berlin’s Royal Porcelain Factory around 1787 by Duke Peter von Biron, the son of Duke of Courland Ernst Johann von Biron, for his newly acquired Friedrichsfelde Palace. With some variations, “Courland décor” is still being made today, for example in 2003 a “Courland décor” service was given by the Burgomaster of Berlin to Latvia’s then President Vaira Vīķe Freiberga. This and other numerous examples throughout the exhibition testify that the overall experience in the European cultural space is not a construct of this show – it is a history which over the centuries has connected a number of European states and societies.
At the start of the exhibition’s journey an English-language catalogue titled “European Cultural Lifestyle in Ceramics from Baroque until Today” was published (MIC Faenza, 2015). The Riga exhibition is accompanied by an issue in Latvian language (Association of Culture Institutions of Riga City Council, 2017).
Exhibition is organized in the frame of the Project “Ceramics and its Dimensions”, co-financed by the EU programme “Creative Europe”.