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  Nr. 101 - March 2007
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Art Appreciation

In recent years Paros has become an important centre for art and for artists. Many exhibitions are held in a number of venues at different locations on the island and art-related events take place throughout the year.

The works of art that are created and shown on Paros cover a wide range of mediums and styles, but for those of us who do not have the benefit of an education in art, much of the meaning and purpose of this work is not fully understood and, consequently, often not considered very interesting.

To help address this gap in understanding, as well as to encourage a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions, IPAC – the International Paros Art Circle – held a series of round table discussions at the Apothiki Gallery last spring on the theme of “Art Appreciation”. The talks were a great success and, as a result, a second series is planned for 2007.

Starting at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 21st March at the Apothiki (and subsequently on 28th March, 11th, 18th and 25th April), the themes for discussion include: periods of art (e.g. classical period, minimal, impressionism), beauty & art, art vs. the art market, Vienna porcelain, how art increases business & tourism, art & medicine, the art of singing, anything goes is a disaster for art, art & jewellery. Discussions will be in English and Greek and entrance is free. Everyone is welcome to attend. If you missed last year’s discussions, a summary of some of the topics covered so far follows.

For further information see www.ipac.gr or call Peter Seibt on 22840-23368.

presented by Peter Seibt

As far as the question “What is the Use of Art?” is concerned, there are two main points of view: one is that art is something “nice to have, but not necessary” and the other is that “every society needs art, that it is as necessary as housing, food and education and that without art life is incomplete and unfulfilled”.

This second point of view was held by the classical Greek philosophers like Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. Plato said: “There is no art, only artists” and if we look deeper into the subject we can see that the effect of art is felt not only by the individual, but also by the community as a whole.

From an individual standpoint, art can be viewed as simply adding to our joy of living. As we are confronted and stimulated by the beauty of art, we are inspired to make our own lives beautiful. We choose to live in an attractive home in lovely surroundings rather than in a sterile, bare environment. Living with art, our senses are extended, they become more intense, richer, directly affecting our observations, feelings and experiences. We understand more. We see more choices and are therefore able to make better decisions. Art affects our perception of time: when we look at or listen to art, we are brought suddenly into the present moment. As we gaze for a few minutes at a picture we can experience moments of eternity, we can learn more about ourselves and our individuality. Art given as a unique gift to someone else forms a part of creating truly individual relationships which enrich our life.
Finally, art can be an investment. In fact, those who have invested their money in art have often had more success than with funds placed on a risky stock market.

At the level of community, art gives a society orientation. All art interprets the present: look... read... listen... to how it is today. And a lot of art creates ideas for the future and this can be a positive promise or a warning. It can help enrich a society’s intuition on subjects where the mass media, science or politics do not give a clear and consistent picture.

Art contributes to humanity’s progress. The laws of beauty and skills honed by art create valuable ideas, techniques and movements, and art attacks rigid organizational structures and narrow patterns of law and order. Art creates alternatives to the usual solutions to problems faced by a society and supports essential values which ensure the community’s stability, continuity and security.

Another important contribution of art to a society is in business, where it leads to more attractive and successful business ideas, products and services. This can be seen, for instance, in the positive influence of art here on Paros. Not only do two highly regarded art schools and many art workshops bring students to the island, but also the increase in exhibitions, galleries and cultural events contributes to the image of Paros, attracting and inviting visitors.

Celebrating art and culture is particularly important for a society because of its function in bringing people together to have a common experience of beauty and joy.
The use of art is, therefore, not a question; it is a solution.

presented by Michaela Ruletta

Throughout history French potters have gathered in small communities, often in remote places, for reasons that were not only geographical, but also economical, social, ethical and spiritual.

Vallauris (from ‘the golden valley”) is a small village in the South of France which lies just a few kilometres from Cannes in a small valley behind Antibes close to Biot.

As far back as the 14th and 15th century, potters came with their knowledge and techniques from Italy and Spain to settle in this small village and they founded one of these potter communities. In the 19th century they produced utilitarian earthenware which was transported by boat all over the world. Once metal production became popular, this trade decreased considerably, but some artists continued to create unique pieces with special glazes.

A new generation of potters arose after the war and two important figures of Vallauris were Roger Capron and Robert Picaud who came from Paris after attending the Ecole d’arts Appliques, where art students were prepared to create functional pieces – furniture, pottery, metalware, etc. Function was emphasized as well as beauty and an important aspect of their training at that time just after the war is that the artists should be able to live from their work.

More artists were encouraged to come to Vallauris by potter Susanne Ramie and her
husband who created the Atelier Madura which would later become very famous. And in the very specific conditions of the post-war atmosphere, Picaud and Capron created their first atelier “Callis” named after a Greek potter. Influenced by antique Greek shapes, designs and themes, Picaud once said that once you have seen the museum of Heraklion you have seen everything there is to see in ceramics.

They were then joined by Jean Derval, and the group of artists now in Vallauris created a lively forum for the exchange of artistic ideas. Even when Picaud and Capron separated, the atmosphere remained enthusiastic and creative. Under the motto “utilitarian and beautiful”, unique pieces and sculptures were created: plates, pitchers, tiles of all shapes and sizes.

In 1946 Suzanne Ramie convinced the local municipality to hold an exhibition at the Nerolium – a large glass hall which was actually the flower market of the community. The exhibition received national press coverage and was a huge success.

Shortly afterwards, Picasso – at 65 a living legend – decided to live in the South of France and over the next decade created innumerable pieces at the Atelier Madura. With his participation in the 1947 Nerolium exhibition, success became international.

Everyday ceramic objects such as candlesticks, lamps, ashtrays, cups and dishes, as well as statues, vases and mirrors were created and sold at the ateliers, but now were also ordered by Paris art galleries and department stores. The famous store Le Printemps had a special collection of items designed and sold under the brand “Primavera” which are today highly sought-after collectibles.

A most important aspect of artistic creation of French ceramics of the 50s was in architecture: the tiles used to decorate buildings, fountains and church altars, for example. In this consumer-oriented period, the French Ministry of Culture granted subsidies for artistic projects on buildings, under which the Town Hall of Cannes ordered the decoration of the entire harbour railway station and Capron’s project was selected.

Vallauris by now had become a centre of attraction, known as the “Champs Elysees” of the Cote d’Azur, a place where one could bump into many famous people, not just artists like Victor Brauner, Chagall, Miro and Fernand Leger, but writers Jean Cocteau or Jacque Prevert or movie stars Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. For over a decade, the rich and famous came to Vallauris to order complete sets for their summer villas or town houses.

With Picasso’s involvement, ceramics was no longer considered as secondary on the art scene. He organized a exhibition at the Atelier Madura called “La mort de la piece unique” where some of his works were copied in limited edition, allowing anyone to acquire a piece of art signed by a master at an affordable price, and he encouraged the other artists to ask for higher prices for their unique pieces.

Little by little the craze faded, but Vallauris today remains a potters town with a museum of its history and with many small ateliers continuing to create pottery. And it is always very pleasant to stroll along the main street, remembering the golden age of this very special place.

presented by Brigitte Karavias

Brigitte Karavias gave some background information about the murals in Lascaux, the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, an allegory by Antonio de Pereda, the Saliera by Cellini and a painting by Ford Madox Brown. There were different reasons behind the execution of each of these works of art which had political, social and spiritual aspects.

Our perception of works of art has dramatically changed since the opening of the Imperial collections in Vienna, Berlin and Paris in the 19th century. When the untrained eye contemplates these pictures nowadays without the appropriate information, the symbols depicted are meaningless and can be taken only at face value.

presented by Jeffrey Carson

Jeffrey Carson’s talk, “Private Art, Public Art” discussed the difference in meaning between art meant to be sold for private consumption (as most contemporary art is, indeed most paintings from the Baroque on are), to that which is created for the public (which all ancient art was). Rich buyers in the ancient world showed off by setting up a statue in a public place, and a contemporary buyer shows off by putting a painting in his house to display to invited guests.

Almost all ancient art was available to everybody – man, woman, child, foreigner, slave – and was therefore democratic, whatever the system of government. This is contrasted to most modern art which is available only to a rich elite, and therefore is plutocratic.

Jeff illustrated his thesis with slides from the library of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, where he teaches Art History.
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