Laurent's Curious Vases
Updated: Jun 13, 2020
I am curious about Laurent Craste, a Canadian artist, whose work I recently saw in a private collection (Toronto). As a decorative art & design specialist with a strong background in 18th-century European ceramics, my first thought of the “suicide” vase, as its owner called it, was that it is a critique of ornate, “garish” antique vases, offensive to many contemporary tastes, but there is more social and historical commentary at work.
During the French Revolution, ornate vases were among the raided and destroyed possessions aristocrats had left behind. The artist is said to have taken this period of history as inspiration. Some of these vases are actually hung by a rope (the particular example I saw was displayed as such), so surrealism is definitely at work.
Compared to actual 18th-century vases, these versions are cartoonish, but the historical references are overtly present. In white, the vases seem to melt into the tools destroying them, a fantasy interrupted, hence the intense realism these works ultimately evoke. I can imagine one of these vases foiling an otherwise classical room. In contemporary circles the “destruction” of ceramics is certainly a trend we’ve seen, but not as many works as frozen in thought and time as this, which left me feeling the same.
Original Post: March 27, 2017