|On View:||April 9–September 18, 2016|
The American Museum of Ceramic Art is proud to present Dirk Staschke: Nature Morte, an exhibition of transgressive and lavish sculptures inspired by the unsettling and beautiful Flemish and Dutch Vanitas still-life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries. These works offer a stunning commentary on contemporary craving, overconsumption, and excess. In his newer work, Staschke also asks us to consider what part medium plays in the value placed on art, and whether knowing the creative process adds to or diminishes its value. He states, “It is this modulation between the real and illusionistic that most interests me and ultimately makes my work about perception.”
Paintings of the Vanitas genre, which—through a display of symbols such as skulls, fresh and rotting fruits and vegetables, hourglasses, butterflies, and dead fowl—invite the enjoyment of earthly pleasures while forewarning the viewer of the fleeting nature of life and the futility of amassing material possessions. Staschke looks to translate that futility into an artistic gesture by rendering what is representational and static in the fluid medium of glaze, knowing that what is painstakingly depicted will change beyond control once fired. It captures a fleeting moment reminiscent of the temporal nature of life presented in Vanitas painting. Ironically, history has shown fired ceramic to be among the most permanent materials in existence. The act of creation gives meaning to life no matter how brief. Futility gives way to optimism.