This development of true European porcelains at places like Meissen, Germany and Sevres, France coincided with the baroque period of European art history, a period marked by its excesses and general over-the-top artistic styles. So often we tend to associate this artistic style, with its over abundance of gilding, unnatural glaze colors and frilly decoration with the excesses that eventually lead to the over throw of the French monarchy and the terror that followed during the French revolution. It has been said that this artistic movement was embraced by the aristocracy as a means of escapism, further removing them from the dirty, day to day of the lower classes and fostering the resentment that eventually lead to the revolution.
One of the things that we are supposed to do this semester is incorporate baroque and rococo elements into our personal artwork, imitating the pieces were are studying from Meissen and Sevres. I must admit that the European styles that I would prefer to incorporate into my work are better embodied by the work of artists like Ann Van Hoey, whose elegant yet simple lines invoke a feeling of calm that I strive to achieve in my own work. In a world that's filled with cell phones ringing, televisions blasting, kids being kids, bumper to bumper traffic and a million and one other ways to clutter up my day, why would I want to bring clutter and excess into my own artwork? However, when I think of these baroque pieces as embodying escapism, I do, in many ways, feel that my own work, with its quiet simplicity, certainly embodies a modern need to escape. Perhaps this is the best way for me to bring the goals and ideals of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries into my own work, but striving to create something beautiful that allows one to escape from the busy and the ugly in modern life, just as the baroque movement allowed art patrons to escape the unpleasantness of their own time. The means of portraying that escapism have changed over the years, but the ultimate goal of art, to bring beauty and peace to the viewer, has not changed.
To hear more about the vases pictured above, please listen to Luke Syson's TED talk about these pieces at the Met. Click here