Commercial art gallery

How the Art World Finally Started Taking Ceramics Seriously

It was loaned by Hauser & Wirth, one of the largest and most powerful contemporary galleries in the world. The artist’s auction record is £28,000 for one of these creatures, but the largest at Hauser & Wirth can fetch up to £430,000.

Gagosian, the largest contemporary art gallery of them all, is another ‘supporter’ of the exhibition, which represents Edmund de Waal, famous for his 2010 bestseller The Hare with Amber Eyes. Groups of small works by de Waal can fetch up to £215,000 at auction, and more privately.

In the past, contemporary ceramic or clay works would have been sold at design auctions. Some still are. But increasingly, clay sculptors like Los Angeles artist Ken Price, portrayed in Strange Clay by Brussels gallery Xavier Hufkens, are being sold at more lucrative contemporary art auctions. Work by Price sold for over £400,000.

Grayson Perry’s ceramic vases have gone from under £5,000 in 2007/08 to £250,000 in recent years since he became represented by gallery Victoria Miro, and Magdalene Odundo, whose curvaceous pots couldn’t be sold at auction 10 years ago when they were placed only in design sales, is now on display at the Thomas Dane Gallery where his pieces can fetch up to £375,000.

Perhaps the most visible artist at the Hayward is Japan’s Takuro Kuwata, whose 3m-tall porcelain-glazed totems, dripping with bulbous, colorful pigments, not only command attention in the exhibit, but also feature on catalog cover, exhibition poster and bag.

“When I started working with him seven or eight years ago, his work was seen in a design context,” explains his dealer, Alison Jacques.