Ceramics from Ming to Memphis, East meets West

From 13 November 2004 onward, the Groninger Museum will present the exhibition Ceramics from Ming to Memphis, East meets West. In this exhibition, centuries-old cabinet porcelain, tea and coffee services, and other tableware from the Far East is displayed alongside post-modern, ceramic objects from the end of the twentieth century by designers such as Andrea Branzi, Alessandro Mendini, and Ettore Sottsass jun. of the Memphis Italian design studio.

The exhibition offers a selection from the Groninger Museum’s rich collection of Oriental ceramic (user) items which were primarily made during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), a period that covers more than five hundred years. The objects from this period range from everyday tea and coffee sets to precious cabinet porcelain and enormous vases. Contrasting with these antique objects will be items from the Italian design studio Memphis (1981-1985), created by Andrea Branzi, Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass jun. and others. These include marvellous vases, teapots, cups and saucers, services, tables, and cabinets from the Memphis collection. Although the exhibition initially appears to juxtapose two completely different worlds, it is soon evident just how closely they lie. Even ancient China experienced alleged extremities of design and decoration, matching our idea that only Memphis designs could go that far.

In the exhibition, typical Oriental forms alternate with models taken from European examples, demonstrating an interplay between Oriental and European decorative patterns. Twentieth-century designs by the Memphis design movement provide a modern counterpoint. The Memphis design group was founded by Ettore Sottsass jun. in 1981. He gathered together a group of young designers who were all seeking a different, fresh application of design. These designers placed the emphasis on the appearance of user items rather than on their function. In this sense, the ceramic objects of the East and the West unite here. This exhibition is thus the ultimate proof that each ‘new’ cultural expression depends on the rich legacy of the past. This unorthodox presentation of traditional Oriental and post-modern ceramics, generates unexpected combinations that will not only challenge and stimulate the visitors but also astonish them.

The exhibition is on show in the Starck Pavilion and will run from 13 November 2004 to June 2006.

Guest curator: Titus M. Eliëns, the supervisor of the collections of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and a professor of Industrial Design at the University of Leiden.

For additional information, please contact: Josee Selbach or Rixt Horstmann: telephone +31 (0)50 – 3666555, e-mail jselbach@groningermuseum.nl / rhorstmann@groningermuseum.nl , www.groningermuseum.nl

Hours of opening: Tuesday to Sunday and on public holidays, from 10.00-17.00. Also open on Monday afternoons from 13.00-17.00 in July and August, and on 20, 27 December 2004 and 3 January 2005. Closed on 25 December and 1 January.