Chinese contemporary artist Li Xiaofang uses porcelain to make wearable art that pays homage to China’s past while looking toward the future. Xiaofang takes hundreds of shards of porcelain, some dating back to the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and puzzles them together into magnificent porcelain dresses. His wearable art acts as both a coat of armor and a sculptural masterpiece.
Xiaofang sews together the shards using thin metal wire, and each is lined with a leather undergarment. Looking at the artist’s work, it’s impossible not to marvel at the precision and care taken, not only to find the exact shapes to form the curves of the dresses, but also how the pattern and color of the porcelain are used to create new shades and silhouettes. But Xiaofang doesn’t only limit himself to porcelain dresses, he’s also experimented with creating suit jackets, pants, blouses, and even a military hat.
The Beijing-based artist has seen his work exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has engaged in collaborations with fashion giants like Lacoste and Alexander McQueen. A visionary in his field, his work was by the rapid development engulfing Beijing. â€œThese blue shards, bathed in the sunny skies of socialism and caressed by the contemporary cool breezes blowing from the west throughout the capital, assume a bewildering array of postures as fashion items entering the new century,â€ the artist once stated. â€œThese are the blue-and-white costumes! These emanate the splendor once crushed! These are the illusions flowing with sorrow!â€
Royal Antiques Collectibles Auction, Aug 16, 2018, Lot 0015, Estimate: $3000-$6000 –Opening bid: $2500.
The flowing water depicted in porcelain is absolutely dazzling. Venus looks decidedly Saxon.
Christie’s ceramic expert Joan Ho offers a brief guide to the history of Blue-and-White porcelain in China.
Imported blue-and-white china called “Canton” was popular in the upper circles of American society during the colonial and Federal periods. Possession of a set of inherited Canton used to be an important caste marker in upper-crust American society.
In Virginia Horse Country, where I used to live, people would speak with admiration of certain old families, saying “they are the kind of people who put Canton in the dishwasher.”
The colour blue gained special significance in the history of Chinese ceramics during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The distinctive colour in blue-glazed pottery and porcelain comes from cobalt ores imported from Persia, which were a scarce ingredient at the time and used in only limited quantities.
In the Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties in particular, different types of cobalt ore and methods of application determined the distinctive feature of the shades of blue that appeared on blue-and-white porcelain ware. …
The Song dynasty (960-1279) marked a high point in the production of monochrome wares, but artisans of this period regarded the use of cobalt blue as an impossibility. It was not until the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty that the manufacture of blue-and-white porcelain came to maturity, which resulted in richer and more complex subject matter. In part, this development had a religious component: the Mongols counted as their mythical ancestors the â€˜hazy blueâ€™ wolf and the â€˜whiteâ€™ fallow doe.
SÃ¨vres porcelain lamp probably depicting Hypatia reading, 1793-1800, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Hat tip to Victoria Bourbon.