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March 19, 2014

A Bull in a China Shop: Reimagined Porcelain at the RISD Museum

By Maureen Cassidy-Geiger | Exhibits

A Bull in a China Shop: Reimagined Porcelain at the RISD Museum
Arlene Shechet

Meissen is both the name of a slumbering former royal seat near Dresden, Germany, and the moniker of the famous state porcelain factory located there for more than 300 years. Best known for churning out anachronistic figurines and flowery dishes your grandmother might like—but are a hard sell in today’s world, even if they were originally designed for a royal clientele and rightfully fill museums—Meissen has begun an artist-in-residence program to curb the crinoline and wake things up. The wonderfully fresh and irreverent results of one such pairing are on view in the exhibit “Arlene Shechet: Meissen Recast,” at the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, through July 6.

New York sculptor Arlene Shechet spent several months at Meissen in 2012 and 2013, toying with tradition and enjoying complete access to the factory. Using plaster reproductions of original Meissen molds, she reassembled them into reworked figures, manipulating the clay spontaneously and finishing the kiln-fired pieces with playful designs and alluring glazes. Shechet’s handiwork—like The Idol, 2012 (pictured above)—is shown alongside RISD’s collection of traditional Meissen porcelain (some 200 pieces); it is an exciting revisionist exercise not to miss. And don’t be afraid to bring your grandmother—she’ll swoon over the old and warm to the new. 224 Benefit St.; 401-454-6500; risdmuseum.org.

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